Wednesday, June 8, 2011

While Heaven Wept - Fear Of Infinity (2011)


For over two decades, While Heaven Wept has been in building mode. Line-up changes, relocation, and refining the sound have been the norm, a constant shift. They unleash their newest album, one of progressive power metal tracks, strong in promise. But when things are always in a state of change, can the band deliver on the promise, or will they fall short with "Fear Of Infinity"? 

Building drums and guitar scales are the only introduction needed, as "Hour Of Reprisal" begins. Technically sound drum rolls and fills are key, padding out the background as soft, but intense vocals are delivered. The track sounds like a stripped down Dream Theater song, with James LaBrie at his prime. The harmonies are well placed and well executed. Drums are relentless, controlling the tempo, giving the illusion of a much heavier track. Light synthesizers add to that feel, with haunting notes layered throughout.

"Destroyer Of Solace" finds the band changing things up. Oddly timed vocals take the verses, before giving way to operatic chants. A rapid fire breakdown of blistering drums and shredding guitars fills the breakdown section. But at just short of three minutes, the track fails to gain momentum. The intro portion of "Obsessions Now Effigies" is a bright spot. Not overly complex, but solid in its delivery. Guitars and drums take a full third of the song, before vocals enter. Down tempo and somber, the clean singing is merely an accompaniment to the instrumentation, which culminates in a double bass induced crescendo of keys and chords.

Acoustic guitars, strings and pianos back the ballad, "Unplenitude," which shows the melodic sensibilities you would expect from a power metal outfit. Soft, delicate, and haunting. "To Grieve Forever" is asong that delivers the sadness the name implies. The tingle of cymbals and punch of kick drum lays the foundation for a song of loss. It is gentle in its approach, and seems oddly subdued, never going farther than a low boil of guitars and synths. Vocals are beautiful, if not a bit low key. A down played chug highlights "Saturn And Sacrifice," which seems to be following the same pattern as the previous tracks, before unleashing a chunk of aggression. rolling guitars chords and mile a minute drums intertwine, finally giving a change pace to the album. They cut to distorted chugging, with mid range operatic vocals flying over the top.

The album's finale, an eleven minute epic titled "Finality" is a mixed bag of power metal elements, drawing influence from every aspect of the genre. The drums lead, as has been the case throughout the disc. Changes in tempo and rhythm are many, but the constant remains the unchanging vocal patterns. You wait for something to happen, assuming that it simply must. But as the seconds tick down to the conclusion, you are treated to little more than a kick-kick-snare fill and fading keys and chords.

This album is odd in its simplicity. There is nothing extraordinary to be had, but there is also nothing inherently wrong. If you are looking for the winding solos and soaring vocals of titans like Stratovarius and Blind Guardian, you need not press play on this one. However, if you go into the fray knowing full well that you are getting middle of the road power metal, then I say go, young man. Maybe you, too, can conquer your fear of infinity.


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