While Heaven Wept
Fear Of Infinity
22 April 2011
by Tom Dare
It’s one thing for a record to move you close to tears by being mournful, down-beat and generally sounding depressed. It’s quite another to do so while writing uplifting, bright music that is airy and warm, not oppressive and cold. Yet that is what While Heaven Wept have managed to do once again on Fear Of Infinity.
Part of this is achieved through the despondency of the lyrics – even Less Than Jake would be less cheerful if they sang about loss, grief, self-sacrifice and the other less-than-hopeful topics While Heaven Wept do. The doom-laden underpinnings of the music would, you imagine, further add to the blub-factor, however most of the time this is not the case. The really crushing, portentous tracks such as ‘Saturn And Sacrifice‘ are not the ones that make your bottom lip quiver – the heaviness somehow makes it more bearable in an odd way.
The real tear-welling passages are the light, slightly dreamy passages. The soaring vocals arc over the wandering guitars and then split into sumptuous harmony while the subtle symphonics whisper around them. As the harmonic progressions take hold and the wealth of beauty and passion pouring forth becomes irresistible, and when the tipping point comes it throws you out of your seat into a sobbing ball on the floor. And you realise you can’t imagine a happier place to be.
On first listen, you could be forgiven for thinking Fear Of Infinity is a solid yet unremarkable effort. There is no individual aspect jumping out of the whole and wowing you straight away. The riffs don’t seduce you instantly, the vocals are unlikely to have you singing along straight away and the epic symphonic bits are undemonstrative and subtle, and not designed to provide refrains for you to whistle.
Watch WHW playing ‘Vessel’ from last album, Vast Oceans Lachrymose:
But when taken as a whole, and when given time to worm its way into your brain, this is a record that eventually becomes borderline overwhelming. Fear Of Infinity is relentlessly gorgeous from beginning to end, and manages to balance gentleness and gigantic doomy weight. It’s a heart-breaking experience, and an exultant one at the same time. The openness and utter lack of guile results in an album to treasure.
Sounds like: Stratovarius on downers making a Katatonia record
Top tracks: Unplenitude, To Grieve Forever, Finality
While Heaven Wept – Fear Of Infinity tracklisting:
Hour Of Reprisal
Destroyer Of Solace
Obsessions Now Effigies
To Grieve Forever
Saturn And Sacrifice