Many of you may never have heard of While Heaven Wept (WHW), which is a shame and an injustice to a band that has quickly risen to the top of my list. If you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure to sit down and have a conversation with Tom Phillips you’d understand the how and why of the profound emotional effect that the music of While Heaven Wept can have upon a listener. Until I had such a pleasure to speak with Tom (interview forthcoming) I had never heard of WHW and that fact brings me great shame. “Fear of Infinity” is the band’s fourth full-length studio and dare I say it is their magnum opus. It is an emotional trip through the depths of sorrow, pain, melancholy, and the harrowing journey of rising from the depths of the shadowy well of your soul, human existence, and the nature of reality.
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“Fear of Infinity” opens with blasting drums and heavy guitar riffing that draws you in immediately. Rain Irving’s vocals are spot on. Rain’s dynamic range and stunning vibrato emote on an unparalleled level and is the perfect device to deliver the lyrical messages of WHW. “Hour of Reprisal” and “Destroyer of Solace” are brutal tracks that get your leg bouncing and head nodding. These first two movements lead in to “Obsessions Now Effigies” which is more of the traditional epic doom sound that WHW is known for. It’s at this point that you realize that your heart has changed pulse a few times and that the music is slowly instilling a range of emotion not frequently accomplished by today’s radio friendly and Americanized music scene. The riffs are subtle yet catchy and compliment the keyboards and Rain’s voice perfectly.
“Unplentitude” brings the pace down a bit, opening with a quiet chord and leading into an acoustic guitar rhythm as Rain’s voice tenderly pulls you in the rest of the way. I have caught myself on several occasions humming or singing the chorus – “Un-plent-i-tude”. It is beautiful in its simplicity and is a perfect lead into “To Grieve Forever” with its dual guitar opening and transition to a clean guitar melody. This is another song that I sing to myself throughout the day, as we’ve all felt the pain and sorrow of unresolved loss and think to ourselves “When will it end. Am I to grieve forever?” This lies in juxtaposition to “Saturn and Sacrifice” as it opens with a heavy thrumming riff and is true epic doom metal.
Which brings us to “Finality”, my favorite song of “Fear of Infinity” and arguably one of the best WHW songs to date. Clocking in at just over eleven minutes, this epic song cannot be described in word as much as it is to be experienced. “Finality” shows us why WHW is a band that should be on everyone’s playlist.
The production is tight throughout and fitting to the grand power and atmospheric emotion of WHW. Each member plays a vital role in encapsulating the raw and visceral nature of this and all WHW albums. Each track has the ability to stand on its own but when you look at the overall composition of “Fear of Infinity”, each track is a movement in a divine masterpiece. With each listen, you are pulled further into the emotional power this contains, and not just the melancholy and sorrow but the hope in the realization that we are not alone in our journey through the universe of life and all that it contains. “Fear of Infinity” is an album that will appeal to any metal fan looking for music to touch them emotionally. For those new to the metal genre, this is the perfect introduction to the world of metal and to the appeal of epic doom metal. A must own and sure to be one of 2011’s best.
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