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Better Know a Band: While Heaven Wept

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

  1. eaeolian

    eaeolian Division Guitarist

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    I'll keep that in mind. However, you really expect me to believe you're going to finish an album on time? :lol:
     
  2. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    I know it's unthinkable, but there is a strict schedule now due to changed circumstances, and well...the CD Release Show is April 16th in Wuerzburg, Germany...so we have no choice. Thankfully, the music was all written prior to "VOL"...it's just a matter of rehearsing our asses off for the next month. It will all make more sense soon when the "BIG" announcement comes.
     
  3. Dominick_7

    Dominick_7 Member

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    I have never been a fan of doom metal, if this is what this really is, but man these guys are freaking good! Thanks for the excellent post!
     
  4. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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    Hey Tom,
    I was wondering...I just read you guys are releasing a live cd/dvd for release to only 1000 copies. Where will this be orderable and is there a place to pre-order?
     
  5. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    Hey, no worries...it's the 2LP version that is limited to 1000 copies; the CD/DVD will be 3000 and available domestically through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

    Cruz Del Sur Music will have a pre-order sale I'm sure, and definitely High Roller Records in Germany for the LP version...but if there's any interest in the latter, I wouldn't delay...almost everything we've released on vinyl this year sold out during the pre-order phase & the band typically does not have saleable copies due to their limited nature.

    Cheers!
     
  6. AngraRULES

    AngraRULES Member

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    Hey Tom, since we're on the merch subject, are there any places where I can find the band's T-Shirts aside from the Cruz del Sur Music website? I must say that it kind of sucks to only find an American band shirt through an European webstore and pay for it in Euros... :lol:
     
  7. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    We have a limited quantity of some designs in stock most of the time. Being that this year has been primarily revolving around vinyl and CD's, most of our available budget has gone that route, but we'll be stocking more items in the near future. If there's a design of interest, just drop us a line and we'll see what we can do.

    After January 1st everything available from WHW will be much easier to find and hopefully cheaper to procure domestically as well.
     
  8. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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    Ah. Gotcha. Actually a couple hours later I found that it was on Amazon. Thanks for the info though. It's interesting that a band like yours still sells a decent amount of vinyl.
     
  9. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    "A band like yours"...you mean a doom metal band? A band of drunken idiots? :lol:

    Circumstances are quite different for us overseas compared to the States, and like I said earlier, we've been doing vinyl all along as that's what we grew up with. Plus, the quality of these pressings is insane...have a look at some of them on the Facebook page some time in the Merchandise photos. I'll proudly say that our vinyl trumps even that which is released by the biggest labels around...because we care so much...we even have go so far as to match CMYK codes for the color of the vinyl to that of the sleeve.

    That said, our primary concern is the audio quality...not all these "die hard" editions with beer glasses, etched vinyl, panties, free gyros, etc...I mean some of those things are quite impressive...but what the hell would anyone do with an etched vinyl? Especially if there was music contained on the other side? We rather insure the highest quality possible for even the most discerning of listeners. Those being ourselves haha. We love vinyl!
     
  10. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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    :lol: I meant more in terms of a niche/underground band I guess. But it is good to know. I'm all about sound quality and would probably be all over vinyl...but unfortunately I don't own a player, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. Some day though, SOME day.
     
  11. ScottG

    ScottG Member

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    Any more info on this? Label? Release dates? Packaging? I must admit I don't care for revised reissues for the most part. The originals will always be what is remembered. Bands should just concentrate on moving forward.

    Anyway, love the music I've heard!
     
  12. Met-Al

    Met-Al Member

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    ScottG,

    I think the band is waiting until the major announcement they have planned in a few months to reveal any details concerning the reissues. In the meantime, I believe their focus is on getting their new album completed.

    As for bands revisiting their old material, the quality of the re-recordings varies from band to band. Take a look at Edguy as an example of a band that does it right. When they re-recorded their first album, they absolutely gave that material the kick in the ass it needed. On the other hand, a band like Lynch Mob is better off leaving the past behind them. I truly believe While Heaven Wept would only re-record this material if they felt it would be an improvement.


    Stay metal. Never rust.
    Albert
     
  13. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    ScottG...all details for these will be revealed after some other major news is authorized for release. The bottom line in the case of our earliest releases is that I was never happy with the final masters/productions and that supercedes anyone elses concerns; until everything sounds the way I hear it inside my head, I'll never be at peace. Besides, the originals AND the 2010 repressings are completely 100% out-of-print, thus new improved/expanded unlimited editions are in fact totally justified. Unless you want to pay $75+ on eBay for an original. I certainly don't want our friends and fans paying ridiculous prices.

    Anyway, right now, the focus is on the new live album (2LP version out already, CD/DVD released November 8th) and the new studio album, "Fear Of Infinity" which will be released next April.
     
  14. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    Continuing the "If you REALLY want to get to know a band better" thang from a couple pages back, here's the most recent interview with Matthias Mader (Iron Pages):

    SORROW OF THE ANGELS (1998)

    “Sorrow Of The Angels” was a very important album for While Heaven Wept. It is far from perfect but it definitely paved the way for the later development of the band and its unique sound. Additionally, with “Thus With A Kiss I Die” it contains the first great epic composition by Tom Phillips. The band worked for six long years on "Thus With A Kiss I Die", so does this automatically make it the focal point of the album? Tom reckons so: “Just by the sheer length of it alone ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ became the focal point, and it was indeed a journey in and of itself. To this day, it is considered one of our most important songs, and for me, it will always be as such. It’s the only song that we have performed live at every single While Heaven Wept concert, and during the ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ era, it was boldly the first song of the set! The majority of the song was written in 1990/1991 being that I fused together two early songs ‘Bound By Depression’ and ‘Dying’ … and I believe I also had the ending segment at that time … most of the parts that were revealed in later years were merely the bridge between, and those were completed during my stay with Solstice.”

    Technically, there are only four songs on “Sorrow Of The Angels”, namely "Thus With A Kiss I Die", "Into The Wells Of Sorrow" and "The Death Of Love" plus the instrumental "September". Nevertheless, the playing time is quite hefty, so it is an unusual kind of album. Tom Phillips does not really think so: “’Sorrow Of The Angels’ absolutely is an album, not an EP; despite the advent of the CD with its capacity for longer playing times, to this day, we still arrange our releases with the LP format in mind. I’m of the opinion - especially as a music teacher - that the average attention span is no more than 45 minutes, as far as intense listening is concerned, and especially when the music in question is emotionally demanding. Additionally, I cannot count the number of times bands have felt obligated to use filler just to accommodate the available playback length, and this notion for me is completely unacceptable; only the music with real heart and reason should be a part of any album. Lastly, we obviously could’ve made the album longer … we certainly had plenty of songs in the archives (consider the ‘Empires’, ‘VOL’, and even the forthcoming ‘Fear Of Infinity’ are largely comprised of songs composed before ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’!), but this is where the vision comes in … the music tells us what needs to happen, and when people take umbrage at our album lengths or if there are any doubts, I always defer to ‘Reign In Blood’, ‘Hemispheres’, and ‘Permanent Waves’, which are all perfect, and in fact shorter in length than any of ours.”

    "Sorrow Of The Angels” was recorded by three different line-ups in three different locations. So is it a coherent album at all? Tom does not have any doubts: “It is indeed coherent because all of the performances were taken from a single session, with the Paquin, Ingerson, Phillips line-up. The material was arranged in a specific order, and the rainy atmosphere unites everything into one complete entity. There were a couple other songs we recorded during that time but did not release publically that would have made the album a bit more diverse (although they are similar in mood to what was in fact released), but the ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ one-dimensional grief absolutely represented the true monotony of depression.”

    This ties in neatly with my next question. Tom Phillips once described "Sorrow Of The Angels" more of an "emotional necessity than anything else". Listening to the songs today, does he still like the album from a (purely) musical standpoint? Here is his answer: “’Sorrow Of The Angels’, just like all of our albums, was first and foremost an emotional necessity indeed; despite the fact that the material contained within was all composed many years before, and referred entirely to the demise of a specific relationship, I was going through something similar … and in some ways worse … during the time of the recording. Musically, I still love the ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ album; ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ is what I personally consider a milestone … a masterwork of mind. It took many years for the song to complete itself and required many twists and turns to reach the finale. ‘Into The Wells Of Sorrow’ obviously was one of the first songs we ever released, but the version on the ‘Sorrow’ album is the way it was always meant to be; I’ll always be extremely proud of the midsection as it was the first time we really experimented with counterpoint, and it still holds up for me today despite the fact it was all based upon intuition back in 1991 when it was written (as opposed to genuine knowledge of counterpoint/polyphony). The only song that wasn’t entirely successful in my opinion was ‘The Death Of Love’; at the core I love the original acoustic version ‘La Mort D’Amour’ that appeared on ‘Lovesongs Of The Forsaken’ … it’s not the song itself that I have a problem with, rather the arrangement on the ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ album; a few years later we realized more of a hybrid of the two was the perfect marriage.”

    As already mentioned, "Sorrow Of The Angels” was not an easy album to make at all. It took several attempts for While Heaven Wept to get it right. “There were three attempts in total”, counts Tom Phillips. “The first sessions resulted in ‘Lovesongs Of The Forsaken’ and the various compilation tracks/singles from the early 90’s, performed by the Paquin, Funston, Phillips line-up. The second attempt a year or so after the release of the first EP involved Kevin Hufnagel on guitar (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts) and Danny Ingerson (ex-Dysrhythmia) on bass/keys/viola, as well as Paquin and I. This attempt was aborted midway through the sessions because I felt the atmosphere in the studio wasn’t right, which probably sounds psychotic, however at the time I felt it would be best to start over from scratch. The third attempt to record ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ resulted in the album that we ultimately released, and this was done as a 3-piece (Paquin, Ingerson, and myself). The ironic thing is I’m still not happy with the album, so at some point, the fourth attempt, with the current line-up should solve that issue. It’s really not the music itself that I have a problem with, rather our performances and the production. It will be remedied sooner than later.”

    So did Tom learn anything from all the problems he had with "Sorrow Of The Angels"? Problems is the wrong word, he finds: “I don’t think we ever viewed all of the ‘false starts’ as problems necessarily; we really just knew what we were trying to convey all along. I mean the vision for ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ was very clear from the beginning, and we certainly came damn close to achieving this on the third attempt that everyone knows. The one thing I definitely learned was that it is never worth rushing anything to completion for any reason, and I’m again speaking of ‘The Death Of Love’ primarily. We were running out of money, and felt a lot of pressure to get the album finished. Ever since then, we’ve taken all the time we require to insure each release is exactly what we envisioned at any cost. This has resulted in my reputation for being a perfectionist and possibly being completely mad, but the bottom line is, when you have a real vision, passion, and emotional need, saying exactly what you need to say is paramount.”

    Would While Heaven Wept have continued at all if Tom Phillips hadn't put out "Sorrow Of The Angels" (with all its faults)? This question goes back to it being “an emotional necessity”. It takes some time till he comes up with an answer: “I would say so; the fact is my ‘mission’ wouldn’t be complete until ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ was realized exactly as I had envisioned it and heard it in my head. Perhaps there were some cosmic forces involved with this aspect too, as I was so emotionally unstable, suicidal that had I completed my ‘epitaph’ properly, who knows if I would still be here … and I’m thankful that there were these flaws. I would’ve missed out on so much if I followed through with my initial plan. Those flaws were the driving force to continue so as to finally ‘get it right’. After the album came out, I ended up joining Arise From Thorns, who evolved into Brave and that became my focus for a couple years; when that scenario went bad and other aspects of my life had deteriorated, the need for While Heaven Wept again was immense … this directly lead to the need for ‘Of Empires Forlorn’.
    At some point along the way, I decided that I wouldn’t be satisfied until we have successfully recorded all of the material in existence … and we’re very close to ‘clearing out the archives’, but now there’s a couple more albums worth of new material! Also, the events of early 2009 reinforced the reality that I absolutely do NEED to do While Heaven Wept to maintain some semblance of normalcy (and sanity).”

    At the time those four tracks from "Sorrow Of The Angels" were written, what was the stuff Tom was listening to most heavily? "Into The Wells Of Sorrow" reminds me quite a bit of Candlemass’ "Samarithan" ... Tom Phillips explains: “I know this is probably hard to believe, but given that is was the early 90’s, and I’d grown up fully immersed in the Thrash era, I was mostly listening to Nihilist/Entombed, Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Obituary, Sepultura, etc. Of course it was Candlemass’ ‘At The Gallows End’ that directly lead to the formation of While Heaven Wept, along with Fates Warning, Coroner, Trouble, and Slayer, but I was always at the forefront of what was the most extreme Metal at the time as a fan. That being said, we listened to a wide array of music even then: from Kitaro to Stravinsky to Return To Forever and Allan Holdsworth! I guess we were pretty sophisticated for a bunch of young Metalheads!”

    "The Death Of Love" sounds a bit more Gothic, even (Dark) Wave in places, especially in the vocal department. Has While Heaven Wept been in any way influenced by bands like The Cure, Fields Of The Nephilim or The Smiths? Or Christian Death? “Sure … we listened to all of those bands too, especially once Jon Paquin joined the band”, confirms Tom Phillips. “He and I had a deep appreciation for all the bands on 4AD, Hyperium, Projeckt … particularly of the more atmospheric variety, such as Love Is Colder Than Death, Dead Can Dance, Stoa, Anchorage … but we definitely listened to a lot of Christian Death and Fields too. All this was sandwiched between Grave, Repulsion, and Rush! There absolutely is a Dark Wave influence in the music of While Heaven Wept, but I think it’s one of the more minor aspects (along with AOR) that occasionally surfaces unexpectedly.”

    The material of "Sorrow Of The Angels" was composed when Tom Phillips was between 15 and 18 years old. That's astonishing. Very mature music for a teenager to compose. Has Tom been this "mature" as a person, as a human being as well (at 15 to 18 years of age)? This is what he has to say: “While I come from a middle-class scenario with some security and basic creature comforts, the emotional climate within my family was very complicated and I had to grow up far too soon. My innocence was long gone by the time While Heaven Wept began, and I basically mentored myself, rejecting anything that my parents tried to force upon me, from religious beliefs to their ways of thinking. It’s a very long, complicated, and depressing story really, and although it’s long past, we’ll never be the ‘American Dream’ family by any means. Intellectually, I was always very mature, however I wasn’t prepared emotionally to deal with some of the things that I have, and that is exactly where the naivety of the early material lies; the songs are very much all heart and overflowing with genuine emotions, but I tend to be a bit more pragmatic these days, as well as far less obvious lyrically. I suppose when all is said and done, the early material is fairly mature also because we shelved a lot of songs for many years, and allowed the identity of the band to continually develop before we made out first attempt to record anything.”

    What was the weakest point of "Sorrow Of The Angels" and what made the album so special (in the evolution of While Heaven Wept)? Tom Phillips expresses a balanced view: “Well, as I’ve intimated, I’m not entirely satisfied with the results of ‘The Death Of Love’ as that song was the one that was rushed to completion; a couple extra days and we’d have changed the arrangement slightly for what I believe would be a better result. Also, the production was limited by the technology that was available at that particular studio, and we implemented what now would be considered ‘archaic techniques’ – though, there’s nothing like having three sets of hands riding faders on a mixing board. I still miss the organic nature of that. What I like best about ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ is the totally raw emotion of it … it’s as real as it gets. Also, this album marked the first time we improvised live in the studio, and that started a whole other path within the framework of While Heaven Wept (I’m referring to the latter part of the bridge section of ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’). I’ll always love the playing of Jon and Danny on those songs too … there are some really powerful climactic points and very appropriate playing throughout. In the end, ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ will always be the first great epic of While Heaven Wept, and we’ll surely play it until we call it a day. Which won’t be anytime soon!”

    How satisfied is Tom in retrospect with his vocal delivery on "Sorrow Of The Angels"? Not that satisfied, it seems: “I’ve always hated my vocals … always … so ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ is no exception to this. However, one of the real successes of the album is the very obvious emotion in the vocal delivery; while I might not be a fan of my timbre and while the performance might not be technically perfect, that is 100% absolutely raw emotion on display … when it sounds like I’m about to burst into tears, the fact is I was. In the end, that is the one thing I WOULDN’T change about the album, as I don’t know if such a visceral performance could ever be replicated … and fortunately we don’t have to find out, since we have the original ADATs for any future remixes and obviously Rain will be singing on any new versions.”

    The material does feature a lot of acoustic guitar interludes. As the songs evolved, were those acoustic interludes within the songs always there or did they develop eventually? “The acoustic passages throughout the songs of ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’ were always there”, reveals Tom Phillips, “and in fact besides ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ all of the other songs were written on an acoustic guitar. This is exactly why there is a strong neo-classical feel to the midsection of ‘Into The Wells Of Sorrow’ for one example. I actually think that ‘The Death Of Love’ really needs more acoustics to be accurately realized, and we’ll sort that the fourth time around, ha ha.”

    Do people sometimes get confused about the While Heaven Wept discography as so many different releases have come out on different labels? And some of the songs are to be found on more than one record (albeit often in an alternative version). Not always very easy to keep track of ... that’s why I think. Tom Phillips: “We make every attempt to maintain accurate discographies on all of our websites, but I could see how it could be confusing to someone that has newly discovered While Heaven Wept; the bottom line here is there are four full-length albums (including ‘Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence’), another new studio album on the way (‘Fear Of Infinity’), the debut ‘Lovesongs Of The Forsaken’ EP, and a compilation of misc. tracks from over the years. What must be understood is that everything released prior to ‘Empires Of The Forlorn’ was extremely limited in quantity, and even that album disappeared prematurely with the demise of Rage Of Achilles Records. Once we reached our 20th Anniversary this past year, it was decided that we should commemorate that by giving newer fans one last chance to procure past releases in their original forms (in terms of audio content). That was really the whole point of the ‘20th Anniversary Series’ on High Roller Records too.”

    And luckily, this is far from the end of While Heaven Wept ... You will find out soon!

    Matthias Mader
     
  15. Tom WHW

    Tom WHW New Metal Member

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    I thought some of you all might be interested in checking out a couple lo-fi clips from the forthcoming While Heaven Wept CD/DVD "Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence", so here are a couple YouTube links for you:


    and



    And if anyone wanted to see the final packaging for the 2LP version, check out the High Roller Records website and click on the album title.
     
    #55 Tom WHW, Oct 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  16. AngraRULES

    AngraRULES Member

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    The preview of the DVD looks great. It's so interesting how things happen... I admit that before the announcement, I had no idea who While Heaven Wept was. That being said, it is one of my favorite "new" bands.

    I am really looking forward to seeing these guys next year. They're quickly rising to the top of of the list.
     
  17. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    Funny how that shit works out for those that open their minds to the unknown instead of automatically dismissing a band simply because they haven't heard them.
     
  18. Palabra de Dios

    Palabra de Dios Heavy Metal Weatherman

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    Well said. This festival's come a long way in opening people's minds.
     
  19. dcowboys311

    dcowboys311 Member

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    It's funny how the complaints have changed over the years. This year it seems to be more about people NOT giving the unknown bands a chance when in the past it was almost like Glenn could book Insane Clown Posse and half the attendees would start claiming that they were "long time fans."

    While Heaven Wept rules. Definitely one of the bands I'm looking forward to the most next year.
     
  20. AngraRULES

    AngraRULES Member

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    True. Yet at the same time, the narrow-mindedness of some people that post here (and attend ProgPower) never ceases to amaze me.
     

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