This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Better Know a Band: While Heaven Wept

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by Palabra de Dios, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. zekeyou

    zekeyou Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Messages:
    1,463
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    The Triiiaaannnnggggle
    I could be wrong but I think I remember reading something to the effect that that NC show was the only/last US show for 2010.
     
  2. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2002
    Messages:
    2,166
    Likes Received:
    60
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I would assume that she would be, since she is the keyboardist for the band. It would be odd having Scott and Trevor but not her, unless her family obligations took priority. (Last I saw her, she was very much pregnant.)

    The question is, is she going to be doing any singing? I got the impression from their web site that they consider her voice as an asset to the band, but there weren't any vocals from her on the latest album. I don't know if there is any room in the older stuff to work her in. It doesn't sound like it, but I really don't know.
     
  3. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Greetings everyone...this is Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept here. Just wanted to come on and thank you all personally for your support of WHW being a part of ProgPower XII, shed some light on a few things, and answer any questions you might have.

    I know the idea of us performing at ProgPower is a bit strange for some, the whole "first Doom Metal band" aspect, etc. but for us, it actually makes complete sense; although we are one of a handful of bands that has defined the subgenre of Epic Doom Metal (along with Candlemass, my old bandmates Solstice (UK), Solitude, Forlorn (now Isole), Millarca...and more recently Doomshine, aspects of Procession), the fact is we haven't been a pure Doom Metal band for many, many years. It's amazing how labels stick with you sometimes.

    When this band started, we were equally influenced by Fates Warning, Candlemass, and Kitaro...that has always been the foundation of WHW...but we were also heavily into Thrash, Death Metal, Space Rock, Modern Classical, 70's Jazz Fusion and Symphonic Rock/Prog...plus we grew up with AOR on the radio, so somewhere within our discography there are elements of all of the aforementioned. Hell, for the record, Arcturus is even an influence.

    It was really only between 1991-1998 that we were primarily Doom Metal, and this was because WHW was the vehicle I used to deal with my personal problems, disappointments, and tragedies. Even then there were songs that ran the gamut from dark folk to straight up 80's underground metal (ala early Fates, Attacker, Manilla Road)...not to mention the 17 minute epic "Thus With A Kiss I Die", which during the middle section we cycle through no less than 33 time signature changes in 3 minutes!

    2003's "Of Empires Forlorn" wasn't a Doom Metal album at all in my opinion, rather it was a modern interpretation of 70's Symphonic Rock ala Novalis, Grobschnitt, Jane, Pulsar, Dragonfly (etc.). Sure there are a couple songs that were clearly coming from a Doom Metal foundation, and you'll have that obviously, but to me its really just heavy symphonic rock. With a hint of Bathory too haha.

    "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" is nearly bereft of Doom, barring a couple brief passages; it's obviously the most diverse and progressive of our albums, and I really can't believe people still refer to us as Doom Metal at all, but it's fine if that means we're expanding the boundaries of that definition.

    For whatever reason I wanted to clarify something regarding both "Empires" and "VOL" - and that is...almost all of this material existed even prior to our debut MCD...I mean these songs are mostly decades old. For example "Vessel" was written in 1992 (besides a few lyrics), and "To Wander The Void" in 1993.

    The music itself dictates how and when songs will surface; all of our albums have a "continuous flow" - they are journeys, not compilations of songs cobbled together, and every note, every song is there for a reason - thus, there are many instances of songs waiting in the "WHW Archives" until it "feels" right...even if they are obviously catchy like "Vessel" or something.

    Regarding the involvement of the Brave folks, they weren't actually new additions for "VOL"...Scott & Michelle have been members of WHW since 1998, while Trevor was involved a couple times prior as well. WHW, Brave and also Twisted Tower Dire are very much interrelated bands as we all share members, some of us are past members, etc. Really the main difference is the style of music and who is the driving force behind each band. Michelle will be at ProgPower XII just for the record!

    Also, some of you might have missed the news that we've also added Rain's former Altura bandmate Jason Lingle on keyboards officially, so as you might deduce, things are going to get really exciting (musically) in the future!

    As for shows in the US this year, Raleigh this Saturday is the last one as we will immediately begin pre-production for the new album "Fear Of Infinity" (which incidentally once again consists of mostly archival material...in fact 8 songs from it were originally supposed to be on "VOL" but as "The Furthest Shore" grew, it became clear it was the focal point).

    I don't foresee many more shows in the US until ProgPower, as we spend most of our time overseas...and will be co-headlining festivals in Greece, Germany, etc. in the first quarter of 2011. But I assure you that we are EXTREMELY excited about ProgPower XII, and truly appreciate Glenn reaching out to us. Again, we are very, very humbled by the outpouring of support for WHW here, and cannot thank you all enough.

    There's a lot of news that might not have gotten around the way it should have, and there's some even bigger news to come, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to catch up please refer to our website, MySpace page or our Facebook Page

    If anyone has any other questions, comments or hell, we'll even accept song requests for consideration...feel free to contact any of us at any time...we're always available!

    Thanks again...cheers!

    Tom
     
  4. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Cheers! I wanted to address a couple other things that I overlooked in the initial posting. Namely, well, while we don't want anyone paying ridiculous amounts for our past albums, we don't encourage downloading...unless it's through iTunes, CD Baby, etc....I've put all of the albums up on those sites. Of course, cutting them up into single mp3's destroys the whole "continuous flow" concept (and of course mp3's sound terrible)...so I'd suggest that if anyone is interested in physical copies of the old CD's or LP's that they contact us through any of the websites. I have the last remaining copies of everything.

    Also, in a couple years, we'll be unveiling the "Ultimate Editions" of the past discography, which will remain in print always; they will all be expanded editions, in many cases 2 or 3 CD sets, entirely remixed and newly mastered...in some cases, completely re-recorded with the current line-up as well (for example "Sorrow Of The Angels" disc 1 will feature the current line-up, playing the songs the way we do now...whereas disc 2 will contain the original version remixed, remastered, and quite possibly expanded with unreleased bonus tracks). This treatment will be applied to the following albums:

    "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" (1994) - 1 CD expanded to full length with unreleased songs from the original sessions
    "Sorrow Of The Angels" (1998) - 2CD edition as described above
    "Of Empires Forlorn" (2003) - 2CD edition, same treatment as "SoTA"
    "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" (2009) - CD/DVD or CD boxset featuring a 15 minute unreleased track, the original EU promo master, demos, videos
    "Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence" - (2010) - 2CD/DVD This is a limited edition release for now, and we'll be expanding it with the HOD5 concert at minimum
    "The Arcane Unearthed" (2010) - 2CD- Vol.1 coming on LP only this winter, features 7" tracks, comp. tracks, unreleased material from 1989-2002...will be expanded with the unreleased 1996 album and even more unreleased tracks

    As for the setlist at ProgPower XII...that is to be determined. At one point we talked about only doing the "Epics" (there's another one coming on "Fear Of Infinity"), but as of late, we've talked about more of a general overview covering the whole history of the band. Again, requests are welcome and encouraged...this is your show, we're coming there to play for you!
     
  5. Mosquito

    Mosquito oh noes!!

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Messages:
    1,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Columbia, SC, USA
    Palabra De Dios has a fond love of yelling "Play the Hits!" at bands at shows. Does that work? :p
     
  6. Palabra de Dios

    Palabra de Dios Heavy Metal Weatherman

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,965
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    St. Joseph, MO
    The hits equals = Voice in the Wind. God I love that song.
     
  7. TychoCelchu

    TychoCelchu Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    1,975
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Boston MA
    Automatic buy! This is a neat idea!
     
  8. testofwills

    testofwills Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2001
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Canada
    One of the big reasons i will be returning to Atlanta..to see this band perform on the Progpower stage will be godly..Heres my review.... from Hellbound.ca

    Let me just start by saying that the song “Vessel” on the new While Heaven Wept CD is in my opinion the most emotionally charged melodic masterpiece of 2009. The melody in the chorus is pure goosebumps and tear action. Vocalist Rain Irving just shines on this whole CD. He has the highs but never goes into an overly gay falsetto; instead he just sings with pure passion. This band is labeled doom but there so much more then that. Think melodic, atmospheric, sorrow-filled prog doom but with uplifting dynamics. Strange to mentioned uplifting the description of a doom band. Album track “To Wander The Void” is pure John Arch/Fates Warning worship but who doesn’t want to hear that. Rain does a perfect job of emulating John Arch; his unique vocal delivery in the verses clearly demonstrates he is just a superb vocalist. Just go ahead and listen. You will be in heaven. The only real downfall to this CD is it contains six tracks but only four proper tracks as two are intros/instrumentals. If you want to hear passionate music played by dedicated musicians that have been reworked and reworked again and again into perfection (some of the tracks go back as far as 95), the final results are proof that this will be one of my absolute faves of 09 and possibly one of the greatest melodic doom metal albums of our time.
     
  9. BenMech

    BenMech student of the d'eh

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2001
    Messages:
    3,420
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    the other side of elsewhere
    To Tom
    :worship::worship::worship:
    :popcorn::yow:

    'nuff said.
     
  10. BenMech

    BenMech student of the d'eh

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2001
    Messages:
    3,420
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    the other side of elsewhere
    Still miss the Bunnyman. Your vinyl collection does not.
     
  11. edgeofthorns

    edgeofthorns 24 Hours Ago...

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Messages:
    6,607
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    City beneath the surface
    It's a beautiful song. With that said, it surprises the hell out of me that you actually like it though!

    ~Brian~
     
  12. FatesFan

    FatesFan Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Messages:
    1,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    This......what a great song off of a great album! I don't know if I will get back down to PP but this is a band I would love to see.
     
  13. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Recently a series of interviews were conducted by Matthias Mader of Germany's long-running Metal publication Iron Pages in conjunction with the reissue series of LP's on High Roller Records; there's one for each album (though the "VOL" one hasn't been posted yet). I figure "what the hell, I'll post them here too" since they aren't really reproduced anywhere else on the Internet. So if you REALLY want to know WHW, read on...but I have to warn you...these are all pretty wordy! I'll post the ones for "Sorrow Of The Angels" and "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" when they go "live" on the HRR site.

    LOVESONGS OF THE FORSAKEN (1994)

    There is probably no other band on this planet who deserves its current success more than While Heaven Wept. Unlike with fakes like Manowar, their music definitely comes from the heart. Guitarist, vocalist and keyboarder Tom Phililips has been through some bleak periods in his life (and that's an understatement), music in general and his band While Heaven Wept in particular have saved his life: "If you included the caveat of my real friends being there for me too, then I’d say without them and music, I wouldn’t be here today. The thing is, when this band started I was dealing with a lot of heavy issues that I was too young to know how to deal with, so I was extremely fatalist for many years … it was only through the music that I managed to find my way out. I think it’s natural for many people who find themselves emotionally destroyed, who have lost everything, to want to give up … but thankfully, I never did … I would’ve missed out on so much. Ironically, it wasn’t much more than a year ago, that I found myself once again at the lowest point of my life … and once again it was the music of While Heaven Wept that saved me … that is exactly what 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose' was: a lifeline."

    Tom Phillips once mentioned that "While Heaven Wept became his mission, his religion and the whole of his existence." Heavy words! Does this still hold true for today? The mainman of While Heaven Wept reflects: "There have been times in my life when I prioritized other things, people, etc … largely because doing While Heaven Wept has come with a very heavy price for me personally. I’ve sacrificed so much, lost so many friends and loves in doing this band … despite the fact it is because I needed to do it to live a relatively 'normal' life … not carrying the burdens on my heart and soul, making it possible for me to achieve some form of peace and balance. In the end, I’ve always come back to While Heaven Wept, finding that every time that I think I can live without it, some tragedy reminds me of just how vital it really is to me. So, yes, While Heaven Wept remains my mission, my religion … perhaps not the 'whole' of my existence … but it certainly makes my ongoing existence possible."

    As mentioned earlier, the music of the band is REAL. Does Tom think that While Heaven Wept today is so popular because people recognize and even feel that their songs come from the heart? He wonders: "While Heaven Wept is popular? Really, I have no idea about this, and I don’t think I’m qualified to respond to that notion. What I can say is that we are extremely blessed to have the wonderful, devoted friends and fans that we do. I would like to think the fact that our music IS real … from the heart and soul … that it does separate us from a lot of other artists that are coming from a different place."

    Apart from being real and from the heart, While Heaven Wept's music is also totally unique: It's not Doom, it's not Goth and it's not Metal. It's a highly original mix. It seems as if this wonderfull music, this mix of different influences, comes deep from within the soul. Tom agrees: "It does indeed come from the soul, but all of us in the band have extremely diverse tastes in music … though it’s primarily Metal-based. We don’t want to have any boundaries musically … the one concrete parameter is that it has to be sincere, genuine and from the heart. I simply cannot perform any music that I don’t feel or sing/write any words that aren’t real to me. Otherwise, some general traits of While Heaven Wept are consistent: epic, heavy, melodic … mostly melancholic, but not without contrasts either. That being said, you can be sure there will never be any plastic top 40, rap, or gospel heard on a While Heaven Wept release! And being that most of what we listen to is from the 80’s or before, I doubt there will ever be anything trendy for that matter either." That is good to hear!

    The latest While Heaven Wept release on High Roller Records is the re-issue of "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken". The album features the three numbers "In Aeturnum", "La Mort D'Amour" and "Sorrow Of The Angels" in two different versions. Tom Phillips explains where the different versions are
    from and in which respect they are different.: "Side A features the 1995 mix, whereas the B-Side consists of the 1994 version. The 1995 version is much heavier in terms of the bass frequencies, and there are a few different things going on instrumentally as well (for example, one version of 'In Aeturnum' has 12-string guitars in the midsection). We also re-recorded some of the vocals and bass parts between the two editions."

    If I am not mistaken, "Lovesongs of the Forsaken" was first released in 1994 as a promo tape with a circulation of only 50 copies. Is that true? Tom confrims: "That’s correct … we did an extremely limited cassette promo in 1994, which was primarily done for tape-trading purposes, but also to send to the handful of labels we thought were doing interesting things at the time. It was indeed limited to 50 copies only … and if memory serves me correctly, only 40 of those ever went anywhere outside of Virginia! The B-Side of this album is the first time since then that this version of our debut has ever been available to the public, and while the differences may be subtle for some, for the die-hards, this is about as rare as it gets!"

    Then the band pressed another 1,000 copies on CD a little while later in 1995, as Tom Phillips explains: "We actually did some additional recording as aforementioned, and completely remixed the release before the Sinistrari Records CD pressing. Back in those days, there was no 'total recall' or any of the conveniences of digital recording … at least not at the studio we were working in. So all of this music was mixed by hand each time from the multitrack reel-to-reels. Sinistrari produced only 1,000 copies on CD, and it was sold out within the year more or less.

    Both, the cassette and CD, featured the same program, despite the fact that we had recorded many more songs during these sessions; originally the intention was to realize the 'Sorrow Of The Angels' album from the very beginning, but due to our own eccentricities, high standards, as well as the challenges we faced in the studio, we elected to unveil the material over a series of releases. The songs selected for the 'Lovesongs' release were intended to demonstrate a cross-section of the styles that defined While Heaven Wept. Little did we know at that time that it also was the template for all the albums that followed, in the sense that there has always been a very intentional 'flow' between songs on every release since then. I guess we’ve always approached our releases as larger entities as opposed to collections of single songs."

    The band considered "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" their first "proper" release. Is their a special reason for this? Here comes the explanation: "It was definitely the proper introduction to the music of While Heaven Wept for sure; prior to this we circulated a few rehearsal recordings, appeared on a local compilation tape, and did a 7" single, but I never really felt those were truly representative of While Heaven Wept for a plethora of reasons (mostly sonic, but also ideologically and emotionally). For example, the first 7" was more of a 'gift' for our friends around Woodbridge, Virginia, who had waited five years for something they could listen to at home. It wasn’t even a serious release per se, as it featured some Death Metal vocals that I did to blow off steam in the studio one day … a style we only briefly implemented back around 1991-92, but ultimately declined to pursue as it obscured the emotional content of the music (But it was the best I could do in the immediate aftermath of our second vocalist leaving … the 'real' singing required quite a few lessons, and probably still does!)."

    Tom Phillips once mentioned that "there are probably over 100 rehearsal recordings from the 1989 to 1992 period". So does he go back to those tapes regularly for inspiration or search of riffs? As it seems, he does: "Most of the old material is 'cataloged' in my memory actually, so I’ve been able to travel back through those old riffs anytime I’ve needed to. In fact, sometimes a new melody or idea instantly leads to a recollection of something that was shelved long ago, as if completing itself without a thought on my part. That said, there are some very early songs, including one 20 minute epic that someday I really do need to revisit, that one is one of the 'lost'. I figure by the time of our 25th Anniversary we will have finally realized all of the ancient songs left in the archives … at this point we’re primarily working on brand new material. There’s only a handful of the arcane left at this point!"

    So the fans can hope for a brand new studio album by While Heaven Wept? "For certain, I can tell you 'Fear Of Infinity' is coming in 2011. This is a landmark occasion being that we’ve taken four to six years between albums in the past, but in this case, what 'Fear' is really, is the other half of 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose', so all the material was already written even before we recorded that album. It’s an altogether darker and more aggressive affair, at times recalling the 'Sorrow Of The Angels' album (especially since some songs were originally intended to be included as part of that album), but very clearly While Heaven Wept nonetheless. We’ll never release the same album twice, but the signature 'While Heaven Wept sound' will remain intact."

    A lot of While Heaven Wept's fantastic back catalogue has been re-releases on glorious vinyl via High Roller Records. How satisfied is Mister Phillips with the While Heaven Wept vinyl re-release campaign of High Roller Records? There could have been only one answer: "We’re incredibly satisfied with the vinyl re-releases! Not only are they resolving any previous flaws, the quality of the vinyl, sleeves, everything is as good as it gets! We’ve been intimately involved with every detail to insure they are 'collector’s quality' – not least of which because we are collectors ourselves! But you’ll notice that we’re not getting caught up in the whole 'die-hard' frenzy … for us, the single most important aspect was insuring the audio sounds fucking incredible. I think that we have succeeded and in many ways, I prefer these vinyl releases to the CD counterparts. Most of all you’ll notice that all of the releases on High Roller Records have commonalities graphically. This is an important detail, because in essence, everything we’re releasing in this series actually represents our 20th Anniversary … that’s what these are all about."

    All of the While Heaven Wept releases on High Roller, apart from the 7" single, were already sold-out during pre-sales. This has never been the case on this label before and big bands like Trouble or Razor also feature in the catalogue. This is nothing short of amazing! Tom Phillips finds this also: "Well, first let me say, Razor and Trouble SHOULD be selling out instantly … apparently the youth of today need to do some serious musical archaeology! Otherwise, I have no idea why the While Heaven Wept releases were so successful … perhaps it has to do with the fact that they were out-of-print for so long or simply due to the attention 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose' was receiving. Either way, we’re very happy that they were good investments for High Roller Records, and like I said, we’re very proud to have these versions in our own collections!"

    The band has released so many records on different labels and have dealt with people like Mike Pritchard, Rich Walker, Mauro Berchi and Steffen Böhm. I know all four. It seems that there are still very honest people working in the Metal underground. Tom reflects: "Unfortunately, the 'true' are in fact few and far between. We’ve always been fortunate to work with people that are truly friends, that really care about and believe in what we’re doing … but there are a lot of bastards out there as well. We make every effort to establish ongoing working relationships with the select few we choose to work with. I’d defend the individuals that you mentioned to the death, plus Rebecca from Iron Kodex (who was very instrumental in the vinyl re-releases too) and Enrico from Cruz Del Sur Music as well. No band could go wrong working with any of these folks." But there have been disappointments as well: "Absolutely, but not because our experiences with While Heaven Wept, rather what we’ve seen done or not done for our friends. Further, there are some labels that we thought would totally understand what we were doing and be in our corner that totally let us down as well, but it’s all good … everything happens for a reason, and we’re honored to have the partners that we do in this often cold and impersonal industry. Our gratitude is boundless with regards to everyone who has helped us in any way … and our fans mean the world to us. I hope to see you all in Germany again very soon!"

    The last European tour While Heaven Wept did was back in 2003. And the memories of this trek are still very much vital today: "Ahhh … it was a rollercoaster of emotions. We’d waited so long to come over, where our music has always been embraced, but yet we were touring with only half of the actual line-up (we brought in Fred from Whispering Gallery and Angelo from Cold Mourning/Slough Feg for this run of dates). It was a really complicated time, with a great many things going on behind the scenes back at home and on the road that totally impacted the morale on that tour. Not to mention the heavy consumption of alcohol but I don’t think anyone really knows what we were dealing with on a personal level. At the time, the band was more or less breaking up right in front of me, so it was tough. That said, some of our absolute best and very worst shows took place during that tour. It was an experience for sure, but we’re far more prepared to come back and do it 'right' next time! It was great meeting all of our longtime friends in person for the first time though!"

    Matthias Mader
     
  14. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    OF EMPIRES FORLORN (2003)

    Originally, While Heaven Wept’s “Of Empires Forlorn” was released via Italy’s Eibon Records in early 2003. The recent vinyl re-pressing on High Roller Records was sold out even before it reached the open market. As a result, many fans have been looking for it. That’s why it was decided to put out another special edition of this (melancholic) Metal masterpiece. The band’s mainman Tom Phillips had once described everything While Heaven Wept released before “Of Empires Forlorn” as “developmental material”. What did he actually mean by that? This is the explanation: “Despite the fact that we clearly had our own identity by the time we recorded the first notes in a professional studio, the fact is all of the material from the ‘Chapter One’ era (1989-1999) was created when I was 16-17 years old, so my understanding of music was limited to my influences, which fortunately were very diverse. Still, all the influence in the world doesn’t necessarily translate to a deep understanding of harmony, counterpoint, arranging (etc.) – each of these topics are in fact often dedicated courses for an entire semester at most universities. At any rate, although the early material of While Heaven Wept wasn’t exactly ‘basic’, it’s audibly clear on ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ that I was able to apply a lot of concepts I’d learned in music school; from the counterpoint at the end of ‘The Drowning Years’ to the fairly complex harmony and key changes of the title track … these would’ve only happened by chance in the early days, whereas during the ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ era, the arranging was very much a conscious effort. I do want to point out, however, that the underlying exoskeleton of all the songs developed in the same way as always: through emotional catalyst and revelation … but from there I definitely put pencil to paper and applied theoretical concepts to finalize the arrangements. So, when all is said and done, it’s not that ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ was the first ‘real’ While Heaven Wept album, rather it was the first one that I felt good about (the final result) when I left the mastering facility, and it was certainly more mature both musically and emotionally.”

    The album was recorded on and off throughout 2002. The guitarist and vocalist of While Heaven Wept reflects: “It wasn’t a long period of time in While Heaven Wept terms, but I imagine it was still longer than most bands spend on an album! The initial recording sessions started in February 2002 and then we had a forced hiatus from July until October or November due to another artist having blocked the studio out. We took that opportunity to produce ‘The Drowning Years’ 7” single which featured early mixes from the sessions. Once the recording recommenced, we really only had a few vocal parts to finish and some of the subtle layers/nuances before the final mixdown. By Christmas 2002, a series of handwritten CD-R advances made their way across the EU like something of a tidal wave, taking both our mates and ourselves by surprise. This mix was ultimately released as a limited edition via Italy’s Eibon Records in the Spring of 2003, and housed in a stunning digipak. Around this time, I was contacted by the now defunct Rage Of Achilles Records regarding a re-release of the album, and Duncan’s enthusiasm for it convinced me that it would be a worthy endeavour, so we returned to Assembly Line Studios to complete one song ('In Aeturnum’) that we left unfinished from the original sessions. This resulted in a remix of the entire album, followed by a subsequent new mastering in July of 2003. All in all, it was probably about nine to ten weeks worth of actual work spread out over a year and a half. The advantage of this unquestionably was we had a vast amount of time to really ‘live’ with the countless rough mixes we did along the way, so by the time of each subsequent session, we knew exactly what we wanted or needed to do.”

    Before the recording of the album commenced, the band had some line-up changes, as Tom Phillips explains: “When we started rehearsing the material in 2000, it was actually with the current line-up of While Heaven Wept, sans Rain Irving of course, but there was a falling out between myself and Brave (whom I co-founded with the members of Arise From Thorns). Scott chose to stay on with us despite that, and Michelle remained on the periphery, but Trevor was definitely done with While Heaven Wept at that time. Long-time drummer Jon Paquin returned to the fold for a few months and contributed to the arrangements Jim and I had been working on, but it soon became clear that he couldn’t handle the emotional intensity of the music at that time, and wasn’t really ‘there’ very much either. For a few months afterwards we jammed with Phil Bloxam (formerly of the legendary Washington D.C. Metal band Hellion) but ultimately he decided he wanted to pursue more of a fusion direction. Finally, my then roommate, Jason Gray stepped in mere weeks before the dates we’d booked for basic tracking, and although we didn’t have a lot of time to develop intricate arrangements, his heavy-hitting style did the material justice. We also worked with another keyboard player for a period of time, but in the end, he was far too spaced out on experimental drugs to make any profound contributions; he did play a few parts on the album, but I performed the majority during the initial sessions, and Michelle had returned full-time by the sessions in the Spring of 2003. In the end, despite a bit of shuffling, the core line-up has remained the same since 1998 with the exception of the drum position, and of course the addition of Rain on vocals in 2008.”

    The recording itself was problematic as there were severe health problems involved. Tom confirms: “There were in fact some long-term health issues resultant from drug and alcohol abuse that certainly affected me in a severe capacity prior to the album sessions … not to mention a host of legal problems, but by the time we really sunk our teeth into the recording process, I was driven by pure emotion, and unhindered by substances. That said, during the initial sessions both Jason and myself were incredibly ill with viruses making for very long and unpleasant hours. Being that we were already weakened and spaced out on medications, it was no surprise when towards the end of the drum tracking Jason could barely stand, let alone play his parts. That said, he did soldier through his parts, and despite some obvious tempo fluctuations on a few songs, he really gave his all. We’re lucky we were even able to capture what we did, as we literally had to help him to his car after the last session.”

    At first, Tom was frustrated by how his vocal performance turned out. Then, all of a sudden, everything fell into place. What had happened? As usual, Tom’s answer is very in-depth: “When I started the vocal tracking, I think I had stopped smoking cigarettes specifically with this in mind and that surely had some impact upon the timbre of my voice, but being that it had been a few years since ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ the tonal quality of it had changed or perhaps matured. Plus, I was singing in a higher register than on previous outings. I just wasn’t ready to hear it sounding the way it did during the playbacks at the studio, and at one point was so mortified that I almost aborted the entire project! Of course, that happens at least once every album anyway haha … but Jim and Scott talked me down in that instance. Once I calmed down, and especially once I started layering harmony lines, I started to feel much more comfortable with the way my voice sounded, despite the fact it was heading in much more of an AOR direction than I ever planned to roll (don’t get me wrong, I grew up on both AOR on the radio and Metal on my turntable, but I just never thought the AOR influence would ever creep into the music of While Heaven Wept). In the end, I basically just sang from the heart and yielded myself to whatever the cosmos intended … during those later sessions in 2002, that’s when something really magical transpired … ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ took on a life of its own and as it evolved into its final phase, we all listened in awe … something mystical happened, and none of us really had anything to do with it. It’s hard to explain, but it was definitely felt and heard in the studio … something celestial or mystical … the only thing I can compare it to is ‘Awaken The Guardian’ or something similar, where the whole is far beyond the sum of its parts.”

    After hearing Tom’s vocals combined with the music, bassist Jim Hunter was quoted as saying: “That shit sounds like Styx meeting Celtic Frost”. A really nice quote! Tom thinks so too: “Jim actually hit the nail on the head, as usual. He really knows his music, and as absurd as that description sounds, it was totally accurate. This was particularly true during some of the rough mixes; we originally had all these layers of timpani and other madness, sounding not unlike Master’s Hammer or ‘Into The Pandemonium’, but ultimately the music required a different EQ curve. But if you listen closely to ‘The Drowning Years’ and ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ you can still hear the timpani faintly!”

    All in all, Tom Phillips liked the production of the record: “It’s been almost a year since I’ve heard it, but it was definitely the first recording out of any band I’ve been involved with that I was happy with production-wise when we left the studio, and listening back around the time of the Cruz Del Sur Music re-issue CD’s, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up. That said, after the strides forward with ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’, I believe that it could be a bit more ‘organic’ and I believe we will achieve this in the future during the re-mix for the ‘Ultimate Edition’ series. Otherwise, there are just a few minute details that I’d change … certain reverbs, volume levels. In general, I’m still quite pleased with the end results, especially that of the second mastering (although I prefer the ‘flow’ of the Eibon version). Honestly, I think it sounds best on the High Roller vinyl edition!”

    It’s hard to describe the press reactions to “Of Empires Forlorn” ... critics were confused and did not really know what to make of the record (and the band). Once they got it though, they were full of praise. Tom Phillips shares his thoughts: “Being that it was unlike anything else that was coming out at the time, it took everyone by surprise, in the same way that ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’ did … and I’m sure all subsequent releases since we’ll never rest on our laurels or duplicate any album a second time with different songs; they are all entities unto themselves. By in large, the media reactions were astounding and extremely flattering, apart from a few folks that took umbrage with the vocal style and those who clearly were coming from the ‘Extreme Doom’ side of things. When all is said and done, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we never claimed it was a Doom Metal album to begin with, so I don’t think it’s fair to pan it just because it doesn’t sound like Evoken or whatever an individual’s definition of Doom Metal might be; take it for what it is, without the pretence of a genre. The bottom line is, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today without the reaction ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ received, and we are extremely grateful; it’s the album that ‘got our feet’ into several doors … which we subsequently kicked in with ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’, haha.”

    On a scale of “happy” to “bleak”, where would Tom Phillips rate „Of Empires Forlorn“? This is what he has to say: “A lot of people considered it this surprisingly uplifting album, which I was astounded by; in actuality it is far bleaker than even ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ lyrically and I wouldn’t exactly call ‘Soulsadness’ or ‘Empires’ itself ‘uplifting’. There were a lot of negative emotions channelled through the album, so to me, it’s definitely NOT a happy album. That said, it was on this album that the 'aural paradox’ of While Heaven Wept began in a musical sense; we started to use major keys to provide a contrast to the minor keys, thereby making the dark passages darker … so I guess in that respect I can understand why some people found the album uplifting … but it’s simultaneously gutting … that’s the aural paradox, and it’s also very much present on ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’ as well.”

    I always asked myself where the mastermind of While Heaven Wept got his inspirations for the band’s very “deep” lyrics from? Has the holy bible been an influence on any of While Heaven Wept’s texts at all? Here is the answer:” All of the songs in the While Heaven Wept discography are entirely based upon real events, relationships, circumstances, and people in my life … there is absolutely nothing fictional whatsoever. All fantastic or religious imagery is purely metaphorical and for the purpose of conveying the magnitudes of emotion pertaining to each subject. Getting back to your first question, another reason why ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ was a more mature release compared to the ‘developmental’ recordings has to do with the lyrics; it was during this time that I started to write in ‘dualities’ … where the lyrics do actually have multiple meanings … literal and figurative. In some cases, there are even more meanings than that, and I think that’s where you are picking up on biblical aspects. One fan wrote me with the notion that the protagonist of the song ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ was in fact Lucifer. I didn’t refute that, as I don’t really ever want to tarnish any listener’s perspective with what the lyrics really mean to me and what I meant to say. Almost every While Heaven Wept song is really an ‘A-B’ conversation between myself and one other person, exposed in an open forum, but I won’t go beyond that apart from saying to those who know me the following: ‘If you think something in the lyrics pertains to you, it probably does’. One thing I do want to be clear about is that While Heaven Wept is NOT a religious or political band in any capacity, so the lyrics should never be approached as anything other than genuine emotional expression. Regarding the bible, I’m a ‘recovering Catholic’, so yeah, I’ve read it. I’ve also read the Thesaurus and Dictionary. Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, Werther’s ‘Faust’ … all of these books could be considered ‘reference materials’ from my perspective … but apart from some biblical imagery used as metaphor, the bible is not an influence at all.”

    Would it be correct to say that „Of Empires Forlorn“ is a (more or less) classic Doom Metal album? At least partially? If you listen to “The Drowing Years” or “In Aeturnum”, for example, that’s nearly perfect Doom Metal ... Tom Phillips only agrees to a certain degree: “While there is certainly a foundation of Epic Doom Metal, and a couple songs that are primarily Doom, as a whole, I’ve never perceived ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ as a proper Doom Metal album; for many years my brethren and I battled in the name of clarifying the very definition of the genre considering there was a point where anything slow was being thrown under the Doom umbrella … quite frankly, ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ goes beyond my own definition of what PURE Doom Metal is. If it is a Doom Metal album in any capacity, it is so far out on the edge … pushing the very boundaries of the genre about as far as they could go and still be considered as such. Personally, I view ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ as more of a modern interpretation of the Symphonic Rock epitomized by older German bands such as Novalis, Jane, Grobschnitt, etc. – with a contemporary production and a heavier musical foundation. But really, what do I know? I mean, I don’t consider anything While Heaven Wept has done since ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ to be PURE Doom Metal, and people still refer to even ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’ as Doom. All I know is it doesn’t sound like Sabbath, Saint Vitus, or Candlemass, so to me, it’s not Doom Metal, just ‘While Heaven Wept Music’.”

    While Heaven Wept do perform a cover of Jane’s “Voice In The Wind” on “Of Empires Forlorn”. The number fits the style of the band perfectly. Tom explains: “’Voice In The Wind’ was a song that had always meant a lot to me ever since the first time I heard it … it was so stark and beautiful … haunting. A couple of guys I worked with at Tower Records turned me on to Jane many years ago (and subsequently started a major obsession with obscure Prog/Symphonic Rock bands). After we released ‘Lovesongs Of The Forsaken’, one of them pointed out that we sounded quite a bit like Jane or Novalis, and that resonated within me ever since; I came to realize that independently we were already pursuing a similar path to many of those bands, and also that we had a lot more in common with them musically than any of the Doom Metal bands that we were often sharing the stage with. We’ve never been a band interested in covering other people’s songs, as I personally feel that if you cannot make it your own, then you have no business fucking with anyone else’s expression … but I felt like ‘Voice In The Wind’ was an exception … where it meant so much already, and actually did sound like something we’d write … it became ‘my baby’ on the ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ album. It was done with the utmost respect, and despite it being more of an ‘interpretation’ than a cover song, we really strived to keep the original characteristics intact … the simplicity of the arrangement, the stark character. Musically, the song is nearly identical except for one extra chord change in the second verse and the guitar solos … but lyrically and vocally, it’s totally different … it was what was necessary to ‘make it my own’. I sang that one from the heart just like any While Heaven Wept song, and my new lyrics absolutely had a basis in my own personal life. I really hoped and still hope that our interpretation of ‘Voice In The Wind’ introduced Jane to a whole new generation/audience - that was always my underlying intention. There are so many overlooked bands, that if we ever do any other covers, they’ll be with this intention at heart, or simply because the music really touches us deeply … and always with the utmost respect.”

    The title track „Of Empires Forlorn“ bears a songwriting period from 1997 to 2001. So I take it that the number evolved over four years to end up as it can be heard on the album. How was the number sounding back in 1997? There was not much of a difference thinks Tom Phillips: “’Of Empires Forlorn’ was more or less the same musically … totally in that epic Bathory vein but the one hold-up for a while was the midsection; I remember clearly discussing it with Don from Sculptured/Agalloch at his house … as to whether or not the part was ‘too cliché’ or something. In the end, I had to yield to the demands of the music itself and let it be what it was since we kept coming back to the same neo-classical passage naturally. Another case in the same song of adhering to what the music dictated would be the Slayer/Deicide style riff that follows … implementing Black Metal vocals was simply what the part called for. Regarding the more recent While Heaven Wept albums, the latter dates next to the song titles typically refer to the timeframe the lyrics were completed. I’m quite sure ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ was completely structured musically by the end of 1999.”

    As all the other While Heaven Wept albums, “Of Empires Forlorn” again features a very atmospheric cover artwork by a certain Gustav Doré: “As I’m sure a lot of people are aware, almost all of our early releases featured the artwork of Gustav Doré, though they were typically the plates from classic literature, and I stumbled across this particular work of his randomly around the time of ‘Empires’; it wasn’t anything contained within any of the folios I owned, nor was it pertaining to a specific book. It’s called ‘The Enigma’ and it depicts the carnage left after a battle: dead soldiers, women, and children … but also a mysterious angelic figure clearly in mourning and perhaps also in the throes of death. There couldn’t be a more appropriate image for this album, specifically in relation to the lyrics of the title track, although this is again more of a metaphor than a literal translation.”

    While Heaven Wept’s music is so original and far off from the norm that I always wondered if they, as a band and as individuals, were still influenced by the music that surrounded them or if While Heaven Wept had already completely taken on “a life of its own”? This is what Tom Phillips has to say: “We’ve always been aware of what was happening in the industry at any given time, and we’re all very much devoted fans of all kinds of music, but as far as While Heaven Wept is concerned, we really just have always done our own thing without paying any mind to the latest trends or popular artists. That isn’t to say that on occasion something new doesn’t exert some kind of subtle influence … everything we hear has some bearing up our musical palette but there are a few key points to keep in mind when it comes to the music of While Heaven Wept. First of all, it’s always the product of emotional need and however something from the heart and soul manifests itself, that’s what it will be. Secondly, our primary influences have remained unchanged since the beginning: ‘Awaken The Guardian’, ‘A Farewell To Kings’, and ‘Hell Awaits’ are as adored today as they were decades ago. Lastly, although every now and then a killer album will come along that blows our minds (such as Immortal’s ‘Sons Of Northern Darkness’ in the case of ‘Empires’), and despite the fact that many of our mates have churned out album after album to great success, quite frankly, we simply don’t care about what our colleagues are doing. I mean we totally support them and feel genuinely happy for their successes, but we have no interest in ‘competing’ with anyone. When all is said and done, when in doubt, we always refer back to the very best of the best: Sabbath, Zeppelin, Purple, Floyd, Rush etc. I’m not suggesting we belong amongst the ranks of those, but if we’re going to aspire to be close to anyone else, it’s going to be the Gods, not the ‘Average Joe’ down the street, even if While Heaven Wept never amounted to anything more than a garage band.”

    While Heaven Wept take great care that all their albums have a “continuous flow” and sound like a “coherent sonic unit”. When did the band first discover that this approach is vital to their concept and their music? Tom explains: “It’s just something that I’ve always gravitated towards naturally I suppose … maybe some people out there truly understand what I mean when I speak of the music itself dictating the path that we follow … maybe I’m just insane, haha. I’m quite sure it all goes back to albums like ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ and ‘The Wall’ ultimately or any of the great concept albums, hell, ‘Misplaced Childhood’ would be another one - all of those albums were so cinematic and made you feel like you were part of the story. Couple this with the long epics of Yes, Rush, Fates Warning and somewhere therein probably lies the origin of our ‘continuous flow’ approach. There is absolutely nothing random about the way any While Heaven Wept album is arranged … every single aspect is there for a reason, and it all really comes back to the music itself, especially now; I get these very clear visions from the rhythms and melodies that indicate what needs to follow in terms of album ‘structure’. In the early days it was all about preserving a specific mood or color, for example, ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ was very one-dimensional in its utter hopelessness, but that is the very nature of depression … it’s not as if we didn’t have plenty of other songs including that of ‘Vessel’ or ‘To Wander The Void’, hell, we even recorded songs like ‘Unplenitude’ during the ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ sessions but yielded to what the heart and the music required … the nature of the overall portrait. Similarly, another reason I considered ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ more of a mature effort is because we managed to convey a sense of motion … a journey … and even though the inherent mood was just as bleak as ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’, it wasn’t at all monochromatic, due in no small part to the contrasts I spoke of earlier. Of course, in the end, we’re merely channels for the music that reveals itself to us, so we really cannot take credit for anything more than the performances … and filtering the music through the kaleidoscope of our personal experiences.”

    Matthias Mader
     
  15. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    TRIUMPH:TRAGEDY:TRANSCENDENCE (2010)

    I am sure fans of While Heaven Wept are delighted about the current High Roller campaign to make the back catalogue of the band available (again) on glorious vinyl. With “T: T: T” High Roller Records is proud to issue the first-ever live album by While Heaven Wept on vinyl – even before it appears in the shops digitally. Tom Phillips explains this rather unusual scenario: “As of right now, “T:T:T” will be released as a limited edition CD/DVD set via Cruz Del Sur Music on November 8th in a quantity of 3,000 copies. Preceding this, a double vinyl pressing will be released on October 23rd in a quantity of 1,000 copies courtesy of a joint collaboration between High Roller Records, Cruz Del Sur Music, and Iron Kodex Records. The 2LP set will include a poster, insert, and will be housed in the usual heavy gatefold sleeve as well.” Tom also reveals what “T: T: T” actually stands for: “T: T: T” stands for “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” which like many of our lyrics, involves dualities; it accurately describes the music contained within, the feelings I personally felt at the concert, it was a triumphant return to the stage – especially after the varied performances during the 2004 tour and also there was the very real tragedy of losing our brother Tony Taylor (former vocalist of our sister band Twisted Tower Dire) in a motorcycle accident the very night of the concert.”

    To be honest, I was not expecting While Heaven Wept to put out a live album anytime soon, as to me their songs always felt like “studio music” or even “headphone music”. So I was wrong! When did the band actually decide to put out a live album? That’s what I wanted to know of Tom Phillips. He answers: “More or less from the moment we confirmed our participation in ‘Hammer Of Doom 3’, I was talking to Oli about capturing the concert on video, and he hooked us up with Streetclip TV, who recently started recording with multi-track sound. I never thought I’d ever be saying: ‘Here’s our new double live album’ but it is a reality now! In recent years, I really became of fan of live recordings, and considered how many times bands in their ‘golden eras’ didn’t manage to document their shows … for example, apart from a BBC Broadcast, there’s no proper live recording of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ from 1973-74. We weren’t sure how it would turn out, but decided we had better be safe than sorry considering how rarely we perform. In the end, it turned out fantastic.” A very good observation by the mainman of While Heaven Wept!

    But as he himself surely knows, there are different kinds of live albums, from “Alive in the studio” efforts (like Judas Priest’s “Unleashed In The East” or the Kiss “Alive” efforts) to warts and all recordings such as AIIZ’s “The Witch Of Berkely” or Vardis’ “100 mph” (in case there are any N.W.O.B.H.M. aficionados out there, they will know what I’m talking about). How much fiddling/overdubbing did While Heaven Wept do with their actual live recording? Tom Phillips: “For the most part, the album is very much a real live album … there are still mistakes, tuning issues, and various details we wanted to leave untouched. We did however have to have Scott record his guitar parts for ‘Soulsadness’ to insure continuity (his amp blew out during that song at the show), but even in that instance, we limited this to only the heavy parts of the song. We also had to bring Rain in for a couple vocal lines in ‘The Furthest Shore’ and ‘Soulsadness’ that were originally ridden with feedback; once the vocal tracks hit the compressors, the feedback was piercing and frankly unbearable … we couldn’t just ‘let that fly’ by any means. Otherwise, what you hear is what the audience at the Posthalle heard on February 6th 2010 ... although I’m sure we’ve managed to mix the levels in a way that is more balanced, being that we know the songs intimately.” Good; so “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” is a real live album then!

    But can While Heaven Wept’s music really be reproduced on a live record at all? How much sense does it actually make? For one, the "continuous flow" approach of the studio albums can't be reproduced in a live situation, can it? Tom Phillips thinks differently: “Actually, I absolutely believe that we can recreate the ‘continuous flow’ in a live setting, especially when we’re able to bring all of our own gear (which wasn’t the case at ‘Hammer Of Doom’ obviously). We do alter arrangements slightly in some instances because we can’t reproduce all of the layers with just two guitars, but over the years we’ve developed solutions that allow the key parts to remain intact. I think in the future, I’ll have Rain fill in some of the gaps on guitar, and then we’ll more or less nail the exact arrangements from the albums.”

    My next point was the setlist itself: Was it difficult for the band to chose which songs would appear on the live album? “We definitely spent quite a while working up the setlist”, confirms Tom Phillips. “It was very important to us to perform what we consider to be our strongest songs as well as those we thought that the audience wanted to hear the most. Jim and I really wanted to do different material than we did on the 2004 tour, and though we ended up with a bit of crossover, it was a very different experience having the actual band complete, plus of course Rain on lead vocals instead of me. What a lot of people probably don’t realize is while our albums are designed to be independent entities from each other, the live sets have always been intended to represent every era of While Heaven Wept in a cohesive way … and the order of songs actually does relate to the aforementioned ‘continuous flow’ concept.” This answer again shows how much thought (and effort) Tom Phillips puts into every aspect of While Heaven Wept. He continues: “For the ‘Hammer Of Doom 3’ performance, we decided that we would divide our hour long performance up into three equal parts, giving us the opportunity to play 20 minutes of music from each album. Due to the fact that the audience demanded an encore, we ultimately ended up playing more songs from ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’ overall, but the main set was equally balanced as far as representing all the albums.”

    Is there a specific song that fans want to hear at a While Heaven Wept show? According to Tom, there definitely is one: “’Vessel’ seems to go over extremely well … really it’s hard for me to say because there are fans for every song that we have ever done and we cover such a wide range of musical territory. It’s virtually impossible to please everyone, though we certainly attempt to, in the end we have to play the songs we personally love the most. I think most die-hards expect us to play our ‘magnum opus’ ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’, as it’s the one song we have performed at every While Heaven Wept concert ever, and ‘To Wander The Void’ appears to be in high demand as well.”

    Right, "Vessel" was put out as a 7" single by High Roller Records earlier this year. For me personally, it indeed rates as one of the catchiest songs While Heaven Wept has ever written. Tom Phillips confirms: “’Vessel’ is definitely a contender for being the catchiest. It has a very strong chorus that had audiences singing along by the second time around (for those unfamiliar with While Heaven Wept) at some of the other shows …but ‘Hammer Of Doom’ was a different scenario. It seemed like everyone knew the words to every song! ‘Vessel’ aside, I’d say both ‘Voice In The Wind’ and ‘The Drowning Years’ are equally catchy as well; all three of these songs have a tinge of the AOR/Stadium Rock I heard on the radio when I was growing up. Ironically, I actually prefer playing the more demanding epics personally, but then again, I’m not going to disown any of my children either!”

    Can fans of the band expect any surprises on the live album? Tom answers: “T: T: T” is filled with numerous improvisations in the way an old ‘70’s Rainbow show would’ve been; every single guitar solo was improvised on the spot and during ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ the entire band was off in the stratosphere … feeding off of the vibe of the audience and playing off of each other. There will be more and more of in the way of musical spontaneity at our concerts, as it is so incredibly fucking liberating and it insures without question that each and every performance is a ‘special event’ shared between ourselves and those in attendance.”

    As you definitely know by now, “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” was recorded at the "Hammer of Doom" festival (in February 2010). The band’s appearance at this festival supports the thesis that if While Heaven Wept do fit into a certain category at all (which is doubtful), that would be the Doom category ... Wouldn’t it? Tom Phillips does not take long to answer this one: “As for whether or not we fit into a specific category, yeah, of course we have Doom Metal roots, and we’re most closely associated with the genre, the irony is we didn’t play a set of Doom Metal at all! I mean, most of the show was pretty epic, high energy material with ‘Soulsadness’ and the first seven minutes of ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ being the exceptions. That’s why we don’t always fit in so well surrounded by Sabbath-oriented bands, but the cool thing about ‘Hammer Of Doom’ is that it was a pretty diverse billing, with Vitus, Asphyx, and While Heaven Wept co-headlining.”

    So is While Heaven Wept also going to play the next "Hammer of Doom" fest in October 2010? Tom Phillips: “We’re not performing at the 4th edition of ‘Hammer of Doom’ on October 23rd 2010 (featuring our good friends Solitude Aeturnus, Iron Man, Mirror Of Deception, Procession, Griftegard, etc.), but I’ll be attending since “T: T: T” is being released there. I figured what better place to celebrate than where it originally transpired! We ARE however co-headlining ‘Hammer Of Doom 5’ on April 16th 2011 and we’ll be playing a completely different set, in fact debuting the majority of the next studio album ‘Fear Of Infinity’ right on the Posthalle stage! It’s going to be our ‘CD Release Show’.”

    As we have already talked so much about live albums, I want to know from Tom which are his personal Top 5 live records of all time? His selection is pretty eclectic: “Journey ‘Captured’, Kitaro ‘In Person’, Sarah McLachlan ‘Mirrorball’, King Crimson ‘The Great Deceiver’ and ‘Epitaph’, Pink Floyd ‘Electric Factory 1970’ (boot). The funny thing is, some of my favorite live albums really weren’t all live at all: Slayer ‘Live Undead’, Judas Priest ‘Unleashed In The East’, Thin Lizzy ‘Live And Dangerous’!” Okay, the second list does indeed sound a bit more familiar to me ...

    Could it be that While Heaven Wept’s kind of music is more "European" in its approach and feeling than it is "American"? Or would the band rather prefer to describe their style as "universal"? Maybe a bit of a tough question ... Tom delves into the topic: “I would say that While Heaven Wept’s music is much more on the European side of things apart from the peppering of the very American AOR and this makes complete sense considering almost all of our influences are European in origin: from Bach, Chopin, and Bruckner to King Crimson to Iron Maiden to Arcturus. I do however think that we perform a kind of Metal that is universal in that we ultimately have something to offer to just about anyone into any underground style of Metal … with the exception of Nu Metal (of course) and there’s not a lot of Grindcore either. Most other subgenres are covered somewhere within our discography.” To support my thesis, when I asked this question I was primarly thinking of Fates Warning (a band Tom admires as much as I do): Their early albums always sounded very "un-American" to my ears (at the time of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Testament). But maybe this was just a gut feeling of mine ... Tom does seem to share my “gut feeling” though: “You’re absolutely right, the early Fates Warning albums were indeed very European in nature, which makes perfect sense considering their primary influences of Maiden, Priest, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath. Even the exception of Rush, that’s another band who was entirely inspired by European bands, and bearing in mind that these are all also influences of While Heaven Wept, along with Fates Warning of course, it’s pretty easy to make the EU connection. The few US bands that I like were all anomalies really, and surely also influenced by the same bands. I’m talking about Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol, and Manilla Road for the record. For myself, the EU is ‘where it’s at’ – it’s where we belong, and will always be our highest priority as a band.”

    Matthias Mader
     
  16. Palabra de Dios

    Palabra de Dios Heavy Metal Weatherman

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,965
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    St. Joseph, MO
    I talk big about loving "true metal" and all that kind of stuff, but I don't just listen to metal...and I recognize ART when I hear and see it. Empires is art, and the song "Voice in the Wind" is just magnificent.
     
  17. Diamond45

    Diamond45 Terminate Bad Music

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    23
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Fredericksburg, VA USA
    Thanks for stopping by. It's surprising I have never heard of you until the announcement a couple of weeks ago, yet I live down the road from you guys AND you recorded your last two albums in my town! (Who would have thought that good prog metal would be recorded in my hick town?)

    I'd love to see you guys perform before seeing you at ProgPower in September 2011. Raleigh is just too far of a drive from here, but if you ever perform in the DC area between now and ProgPower next year, my friend Steve (SkiBumMSP on here) and I would seriously considering attending.

    p.s. Curious as to the big push for vinyl? Do you think your music sounds better on vinyl? Or just the "old school" concept of it?

    Looking forward to seeing you guys. :headbang: :kickass:
     
  18. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Cheers! It's not really surprising that we're largely unknown in the US and even in our home state of Virginia; we have never made an effort to promote the band here in the past because when we first formed, it was during the height (and rapid decline) of the Thrash movement, when extreme Death Metal and Grindcore was on the rise. At that time, if you weren't playing the latest, most extreme music, no one cared...and in fact people often dismissed older styles as being archaic...it's not like it is today where there's a place for every kind of Metal. We were embraced by the EU scene early on, and we never looked back. The US is still very "flavor of the month", and I doubt "our flavor" will ever be in vogue. Also, we refused to do "pay to play" shows...which many of the venues near us were/are. I'm sure at some point we'll hit Jaxx or something, but I wouldn't hold out on that...perhaps for a warm-up show before one of the big EU fests.

    Lately, we have been trying to set up shows in cities where even one person has made a request...sometimes it takes a while to sort out (like Raleigh), but eventually we'll fulfill all requests. That said, we also just signed a new booking deal, which will affect our ability to set up smaller, one-off shows, though we insisted upon a clause allowing for warm-up gigs.

    Regarding vinyl, the natural analog compression yields a warmer, more organic experience. CD's and other digital media tend to be cold and sterile, though we do strive to insure as much warmth as possible via analog outboard gear. And well, we ARE old school...we used to spend hours sifting through the LP bins at Waxie Maxie's, Penguin Feather, etc. looking for the latest Metal imports. We've released more vinyl than anything else as a band, and we will ALWAYS support that format. There was a time when we even discussed doing ONLY vinyl to combat illegal downloading (those USB turntables don't do any music justice), but we are after all signed to labels that would take umbrage at that notion.

    Anyway, we'll see what we can do about a somewhat more local show, but it won't be anytime before next Spring with the new album coming up.

    Cheers again!
     
  19. eaeolian

    eaeolian Division Guitarist

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2002
    Messages:
    3,149
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Woodbridge, VA
    I'll see what I can do, but every time I try and set up something here, it falls apart. :(
     
  20. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Aw Mike...persistence pays off in the end. We'll make something happen. But we can't do anything else until "Fear Of Infinity" is done...we have a very brutal schedule to insure a release in April 2011. Maybe we can do a warm-up before the festival in Greece (March 11th) or something.
     

Share This Page