While Heaven Wept fan Jason Pearson reports for DoomMetalHeaven on the Hammer Of Doom 8 Festival in Germany:
“When news broke that While Heaven Wept were coming to Europe for a one-off show to celebrate their 25th anniversary, with promises of a two-hour set spanning all eras, it was an easy decision to head to Germany to witness this event. The added bonus was the number of top quality bands on the bill, each with their own take on the ‘doom’ label. Here are my highlights…
AGE OF TAURUS
“The quality of the sound in the Posthalle was immense. Loud, crisp and incredibly clear for all the bands, which created a wonderful level playing field. Rising British doomsters Age Of Taurus played one of the sets of the day. Their traditional style of riff-heavy doom threw out a crowd-pleasing noise, with both the up-tempo and slower material receiving a huge response. ‘Walk With Me, My Queen’ was a particular success – a classic in the making.
“Beelzefuzz have been causing a stir in the US underground and recently released their debut album to warm reviews. Their sound is hard to pigeonhole (no bad thing), less heavy with more progressive elements, and while some of the intricacies seemed lost on the German metalheads, I found it hard to take my eyes off frontman Dana Ortt. With higher pitched Alex Lifeson-like vocals and some impressive technical wizardry on his guitar, this guy is magnetic.
“While Year Of The Goat were a bit generic Euro-metal for me, (too much posing, not enough substance), Procession were an entirely different beast. Showing the potential to be future headliners, they were the heaviest band of the day and put in an incredibly tight performance that went down a treat. Tracks from their 2013 album ‘To Reap Heavens Apart’ received the most fervent response, but older material was also warmly welcomed. Personal highlights were the title track and ‘The Death Minstrel’. With vocals reminiscent of Primordial’s Alan Averill and many nods to great doom bands, Procession’s set was a triumph.
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT
“While Heaven Wept were back at HOD for a third time, but the first as headliners. Their biggest fan-base is in Europe, so it seemed an appropriate place to celebrate their milestone. While maybe not being ‘pure doom’, there’s no question that their roots are doom and the heart of even their most recent album retains doom at its core.
“In typical low-key fashion, they started with ‘Epilogue’ and ‘Sorrow Of The Angels’. Tom Phillips promised older material and more obscure tracks, and this was a perfect start. Rain Irving’s vocals give the older material another dimension, never more evident than on oldie ‘Into The Wells Of Sorrow’. This was one of the highlights, with Rain pouring his heart and soul into Tom’s lyrics.
“Soon after we were treated to the full version of ‘The Furthest Shore’. The word epic is overused, but has never been more appropriate. The follow-up to ‘Fear Of Infinity’ is set to be a 40+ minute one-track epic that will re-define the definition of the word.
“Then a curious moment in the guise of ‘Unplenitude’. Not the piano ballad from ‘Fear Of Infinity’, but the B-side from the band’s very first 7-inch single. And it’s very different to the one most will be familiar with, resulting in bemused looks around the Posthalle. As Tom later joked, this was the ‘dance version’!
“Next we were treated to ‘The Drowning Years’, ‘OEF’, ‘Voice In The Wind’ and ‘Soulsadness’. Wow. So vibrant. Rain gave up during VITW and left the crowd to it. A perennial live favourite.
“After that, a breather, and Tom made an announcement. With huge new material on the horizon, it was time for the last live performance of the band’s biggest doom classic, ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’. This 17-minute monster never disappoints and Tom’s jazz influenced jam was as immaculate as ever. Again, Rain’s vocals gave the song a feeling way beyond the original version.
“The inevitable encore was WHW’s great metal singalong, the enormous ‘Vessel’. This track is a real crowd pleaser. “Tonight, we will sail away, with open hearts and eyes ablaze…” As I returned home from Germany, those words were still burning within me.”