Album Reviews

While Heaven Wept – Suspended At Aphelion

Its been 3 long years since Virginia’s epic doom/prog metal band While Heaven Wept’s last album Fear of Infinity, but the wait is almost over as While Heaven Wept prepares to release their highly anticipated new album Suspended At Aphelion, an album consisting of one song broken up into eleven movements. The band, which celebrates their 25th anniversary, began as an epic doom metal band has, over time, evolved their style and sound, incorporating a more progressive sound. The band has never been shy about their love for fellow proggers Fates Warning enlisted original guitarist Victor Arduini and former Fates Warning and Warlord drummer Mark Zonder (due to current drummer Trevor Schrotz being unavailable).

Suspended At Aphelion begins with the instrumental overture Introspectus, a beautiful combination of acoustic guitar and keyboards leading into the powerful and epic sounds of Icarus and I with an infectious chorus and main man Tom Phillips death growls adding metallic emphasis.
Another deceptively soft intro transforms into the melancholy prog metal time changes of Ardor. The piano driven emotionally charged Heartburst features vocalist Hank Rain Irving at his best with his understated yet powerful vocal delivery. The bands love of classic Iron Maiden/Fates Warning is apparent with the uptempo, melodic guitar harmonies and heavy riffs on the grandiose instrumental Indifference Turned Paralysis. The brilliant Souls In Permafrost is one of my favorite moments on the album and one that will please the old school WHW faithful with its heavy rhythms, intricate off-time signatures, and powerful soaring lead vocals which segues seamlessly into Searching The Stars. Victor Arduini lends an emotionally charged guitar solo to the majestic Queen-esque hard rock of Reminiscence of Strangers/Lifelines Lost. The album comes full circle with the ending symphonic outro Retrospectus.

When listening to Suspended At Aphelion, I am reminded of another prog metal suite, Fates Warning’s The Ivory Gate of Dreams from the album No Exit, as well as classic prog and hard rock bands such as Kansas, Rush, and Pink Floyd. To long time fans of While Heaven Wept, the experimentation with ambient sounds, softer melodies, and relying less on their doom metal past may not be what they want to hear, but I commend the band and founder Tom Phillips for sticking to their guns and creating the album that they wanted to make, critics and close minded fans be damned! To say this is WHW’s most ambitious album to date is an understatement. The band continue on the path that they started on with Fear of Infinity as well as embracing their past albums like Vast Oceans Lachrymose. To truly appreciate this album, I recommend immersing yourself in the aural experience by listening to the album as one piece of music as it was intended. The band is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary at the ProgPower USA Mid-Week Mayhem show in Atlanta, GA on September 9, 2015.

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