Review Summary: Stunning. Gorgeous. Perfect.
Vast Oceans Lachrymose is epic, both in name and in practice. While Heaven Wept is the unheralded champion of the epic doom metal founded by Candlemass, and in the years that the pioneers struggled to find their identity, the Americans took up the crown as the best purveyor of the brand of music. Candlemass has found their way again, and while they receive all of the attention, they did not regain the crown.
While Heaven Wept received critical acclaim for their previous album, Of Empires Forlorn, which only scratched the surface of what they were capable of. Bringing new singer Rain Irving into the fold has only raised the bar, letting each member contribute more of themselves, turning the whole into more than the sum of the parts. Irving is the only change in the band's sound, an unnecessary but welcome change from guitarist Tom Phillips' vocals on their previous work. Where Phillips brought the sound of epic metal to the band, Irving brings the sound to life. His warm tenor carries more nuance and emotion, letting the songs come to life, rather than merely singing.
But this album isn't about the vocals. Irving does a masterful job behind the mic, but While Heaven Wept is about the music, the masterful compositions that blend power and emotion in ways that few bands can. The fifteen minute opener "The Furthest Shore" is the band's greatest work, a swaying piece that can only be described as beautiful. Sorrow is the order of the day, somber guitar harmonies carrying the back half as they lull the listener into a blissful ease. Few can match the emotional impact, none can maintain it as well.
The rest of the album supports the epic opening statement, working to form a complete album. "To Wander The Void" picks up the pace, chugging through a thick riff before Irving and the band offer a tantric chorus of wordless harmony. It is memorable without being sappy, letting the power of the guitars control and dominate the song. "Vessel" is a song any band would kill to write, a serious slab of doom flavored metal coupled with a half-time chorus that will haunt listeners like the ghosts of dead classics. Even the closing pair, the title track and "Epilogue", are able to speak to the listener without utilizing a single vocal. The title track's guitars rival any put to tape, saying more about pain in each note than any album's worth of screaming could.
What the band has achieved with Vast Oceans Lachrymose is nothing short of amazing, an album that is powerful and delicate, uplifting and filled with sorrow, epic and still down to earth. The album is a testament to a band that plays by their own rules, making music that exists beyond the surface, speaking to anyone who puts in the effort to listen. Quite simply, Vast Oceans Lachrymose is perfect.