"Fear of Infinity"

by Earthdog

Virginia’s While Heaven Wept return with a new album and it is another great release and a worthy follow-up to their last great album, 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose.' The band's leader Tom Phillips has always been a visionary when it comes to his band and has always had precise ideas about how he wants While Heaven Wept to sound so you never get a mish-mash of genres. It could be called predictable but you always know what you are getting with this band and I am fine with that because it is always quality heavy music. In my review for their last album, I hinted at the fact they are not really a doom-metal band, just a band that has its roots in doom-metal. Nothing has changed really  but 'Fear of Infinity' does suggest a bit of a return to the sound and style they had on their early albums like 'Sorrow of the Angels' and 'Of Empires Forlorn.' Don't expect any drastic changes though...this is pure 'While Heaven Wept' all the way.

This album marks an important chapter in the history of the band as they are now on Nuclear Blast. I never thought that would happen as the band has always had a loyal but small following but hopefully that will change now. The first thing to mention with 'Fear of Infinity' is the huge production. The band has always sounded good but they have never sounded this huge and atmospheric. The other thing is there are more up-tempo passages on this album than whats been on the last couple of albums which harks back to earlier albums that had strong black-metal elements but mainly it is progressive epic metal.  Opening track, 'Hour of Reprisal' kicks off the album with one of the up-tempo passages I mentioned earlier and it kicks ass. The strong black metal influence can be heard but without it sounding like anything generic or typical of the genre. The musicianship is of course, top shelf stuff and even when they do something that sounds like blackened-metal, there is still that epic-prog metal element bubbling away in the background.

Other songs like 'To Grieve Forever' have more of a doom metal vibe and really sound reminiscent of their early recordings. 'Destroyer of Solace' is pure old-school power-metal but painfully short and 'Saturn and Sacrifice' is one of their most powerfully epic tunes. One thing I have always appreciated about this band is songs never over-stay their welcome and they always seem to be the perfect length. Many bands with prog-metal tendencies tend to extend ideas way past their prime but 'While Heaven Wept' always seem to know when to end a track and this album is no exception. One song, 'Obsessions Now Effigies' is a good example of this, it ends just the way it should, just as it seems like it might get tedious. Some people might find songs like this one to be a bit confusing but peel back the layers and there is so much great instrumentation to be heard even though it may seem like a blur at first. 'Finality' is the epic final track on the album and a perfect blend of power, precision, melody, doom and classic heavy metal. In the middle of these songs is the only filler in my opinion, a track called 'Unplentitude' which is nothing bad but not too good either.

Seeing as I loved 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose' so much, an album I gave a 10/10 rating for, (which to this day, I still get questioned about) this album was always going to be a tough call. I think this album is great but I can't give the band a 10 this time around. One filler track and the feeling that this album is not as memorable somehow pushes me to a lower mark but make no mistake about it, this is still excellent and very recommended listening.....9/10