WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence  DLP
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence  DLP
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence  DLP
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence  DLP
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence DLP

HRR 140/ IK 20/ CRUZ 50, limited to 1000 copies, gatefold cover, poster, insert, 300 x 180g heavy orange vinyl + 700 x 180g heavy black vinyl

Rain Irving - Lead Vocals
Tom Phillips - Guitars, Keyboards
Scott Loose - Guitars
Jim Hunter - Bass
Michelle Schrotz - Keyboards and Harmony Vocals
Trevor Schrotz - Drums

-Vast Oceance Lachrymose
-The Furthest Shore (Parts 1-3)
-Soul Sadness
-The Drowning Years
-Of Empires Forlorn
-Thus With A Kiss I Die


I am sure fans of While Heaven Wept are delighted about the current High Roller campaign to make the back catalogue of the band available (again) on glorious vinyl. With “T: T: T” High Roller Records is proud to issue the first-ever live album by While Heaven Wept on vinyl – even before it appears in the shops digitally. Tom Phillips explains this rather unusual scenario: “As of right now, “T:T:T” will be released as a limited edition CD/DVD set via Cruz Del Sur Music on November 8th in a quantity of 3,000 copies. Preceding this, a double vinyl pressing will be released on October 23rd in a quantity of 1,000 copies courtesy of a joint collaboration between High Roller Records, Cruz Del Sur Music, and Iron Kodex Records. The 2LP set will include a poster, insert, and will be housed in the usual heavy gatefold sleeve as well.” Tom also reveals what “T: T: T” actually stands for: “T: T: T” stands for “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” which like many of our lyrics, involves dualities; it accurately describes the music contained within, the feelings I personally felt at the concert, it was a triumphant return to the stage – especially after the varied performances during the 2004 tour and also there was the very real tragedy of losing our brother Tony Taylor (former vocalist of our sister band Twisted Tower Dire) in a motorcycle accident the very night of the concert.”
To be honest, I was not expecting While Heaven Wept to put out a live album anytime soon, as to me their songs always felt like “studio music” or even “headphone music”. So I was wrong! When did the band actually decide to put out a live album? That’s what I wanted to know of Tom Phillips. He answers: “More or less from the moment we confirmed our participation in ‘Hammer Of Doom 3’, I was talking to Oli about capturing the concert on video, and he hooked us up with Streetclip TV, who recently started recording with multi-track sound. I never thought I’d ever be saying: ‘Here’s our new double live album’ but it is a reality now! In recent years, I really became of fan of live recordings, and considered how many times bands in their ‘golden eras’ didn’t manage to document their shows … for example, apart from a BBC Broadcast, there’s no proper live recording of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ from 1973-74. We weren’t sure how it would turn out, but decided we had better be safe than sorry considering how rarely we perform. In the end, it turned out fantastic.” A very good observation by the mainman of While Heaven Wept! But as he himself surely knows, there are different kinds of live albums, from “Alive in the studio” efforts (like Judas Priest’s “Unleashed In The East” or the Kiss “Alive” efforts) to warts and all recordings such as AIIZ’s “The Witch Of Berkely” or Vardis’ “100 mph” (in case there are any N.W.O.B.H.M. aficionados out there, they will know what I’m talking about). How much fiddling/overdubbing did While Heaven Wept do with their actual live recording? Tom Phillips: “For the most part, the album is very much a real live album … there are still mistakes, tuning issues, and various details we wanted to leave untouched. We did however have to have Scott record his guitar parts for ‘Soulsadness’ to insure continuity (his amp blew out during that song at the show), but even in that instance, we limited this to only the heavy parts of the song. We also had to bring Rain in for a couple vocal lines in ‘The Furthest Shore’ and ‘Soulsadness’ that were originally ridden with feedback; once the vocal tracks hit the compressors, the feedback was piercing and frankly unbearable … we couldn’t just ‘let that fly’ by any means. Otherwise, what you hear is what the audience at the Posthalle heard on February 6th 2010 ... although I’m sure we’ve managed to mix the levels in a way that is more balanced, being that we know the songs intimately.” Good; so “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” is a real live album then! But can While Heaven Wept’s music really be reproduced on a live record at all? How much sense does it actually make? For one, the "continuous flow" approach of the studio albums can't be reproduced in a live situation, can it? Tom Phillips thinks differently: “Actually, I absolutely believe that we can recreate the ‘continuous flow’ in a live setting, especially when we’re able to bring all of our own gear (which wasn’t the case at ‘Hammer Of Doom’ obviously). We do alter arrangements slightly in some instances because we can’t reproduce all of the layers with just two guitars, but over the years we’ve developed solutions that allow the key parts to remain intact. I think in the future, I’ll have Rain fill in some of the gaps on guitar, and then we’ll more or less nail the exact arrangements from the albums.”
My next point was the setlist itself: Was it difficult for the band to chose which songs would appear on the live album? “We definitely spent quite a while working up the setlist”, confirms Tom Phillips. “It was very important to us to perform what we consider to be our strongest songs as well as those we thought that the audience wanted to hear the most. Jim and I really wanted to do different material than we did on the 2004 tour, and though we ended up with a bit of crossover, it was a very different experience having the actual band complete, plus of course Rain on lead vocals instead of me. What a lot of people probably don’t realize is while our albums are designed to be independent entities from each other, the live sets have always been intended to represent every era of While Heaven Wept in a cohesive way … and the order of songs actually does relate to the aforementioned ‘continuous flow’ concept.” This answer again shows how much thought (and effort) Tom Phillips puts into every aspect of While Heaven Wept. He continues: “For the ‘Hammer Of Doom 3’ performance, we decided that we would divide our hour long performance up into three equal parts, giving us the opportunity to play 20 minutes of music from each album. Due to the fact that the audience demanded an encore, we ultimately ended up playing more songs from ‘Vast Oceans Lachrymose’ overall, but the main set was equally balanced as far as representing all the albums.”
Is there a specific song that fans want to hear at a While Heaven Wept show? According to Tom, there definitely is one: “’Vessel’ seems to go over extremely well … really it’s hard for me to say because there are fans for every song that we have ever done and we cover such a wide range of musical territory. It’s virtually impossible to please everyone, though we certainly attempt to, in the end we have to play the songs we personally love the most. I think most die-hards expect us to play our ‘magnum opus’ ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’, as it’s the one song we have performed at every While Heaven Wept concert ever, and ‘To Wander The Void’ appears to be in high demand as well.” Right, "Vessel" was put out as a 7" single by High Roller Records earlier this year. For me personally, it indeed rates as one of the catchiest songs While Heaven Wept has ever written. Tom Phillips confirms: “’Vessel’ is definitely a contender for being the catchiest. It has a very strong chorus that had audiences singing along by the second time around (for those unfamiliar with While Heaven Wept) at some of the other shows …but ‘Hammer Of Doom’ was a different scenario. It seemed like everyone knew the words to every song! ‘Vessel’ aside, I’d say both ‘Voice In The Wind’ and ‘The Drowning Years’ are equally catchy as well; all three of these songs have a tinge of the AOR/Stadium Rock I heard on the radio when I was growing up. Ironically, I actually prefer playing the more demanding epics personally, but then again, I’m not going to disown any of my children either!”
Can fans of the band expect any surprises on the live album? Tom answers: “T: T: T” is filled with numerous improvisations in the way an old ‘70’s Rainbow show would’ve been; every single guitar solo was improvised on the spot and during ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ the entire band was off in the stratosphere … feeding off of the vibe of the audience and playing off of each other. There will be more and more of in the way of musical spontaneity at our concerts, as it is so incredibly fucking liberating and it insures without question that each and every performance is a ‘special event’ shared between ourselves and those in attendance.”
As you definitely know by now, “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” was recorded at the "Hammer of Doom" festival (in February 2010). The band’s appearance at this festival supports the thesis that if While Heaven Wept do fit into a certain category at all (which is doubtful), that would be the Doom category ... Wouldn’t it? Tom Phillips does not take long to answer this one: “As for whether or not we fit into a specific category, yeah, of course we have Doom Metal roots, and we’re most closely associated with the genre, the irony is we didn’t play a set of Doom Metal at all! I mean, most of the show was pretty epic, high energy material with ‘Soulsadness’ and the first seven minutes of ‘Thus With A Kiss I Die’ being the exceptions. That’s why we don’t always fit in so well surrounded by Sabbath-oriented bands, but the cool thing about ‘Hammer Of Doom’ is that it was a pretty diverse billing, with Vitus, Asphyx, and While Heaven Wept co-headlining.”
So is While Heaven Wept also going to play the next "Hammer of Doom" fest in October 2010? Tom Phillips: “We’re not performing at the 4th edition of ‘Hammer of Doom’ on October 23rd 2010 (featuring our good friends Solitude Aeturnus, Iron Man, Mirror Of Deception, Procession, Griftegard, etc.), but I’ll be attending since “T: T: T” is being released there. I figured what better place to celebrate than where it originally transpired! We ARE however co-headlining ‘Hammer Of Doom 5’ on April 16th 2011 and we’ll be playing a completely different set, in fact debuting the majority of the next studio album ‘Fear Of Infinity’ right on the Posthalle stage! It’s going to be our ‘CD Release Show’.”
As we have already talked so much about live albums, I want to know from Tom which are his personal Top 5 live records of all time? His selection is pretty eclectic: “Journey ‘Captured’, Kitaro ‘In Person’, Sarah McLachlan ‘Mirrorball’, King Crimson ‘The Great Deceiver’ and ‘Epitaph’, Pink Floyd ‘Electric Factory 1970’ (boot). The funny thing is, some of my favorite live albums really weren’t all live at all: Slayer ‘Live Undead’, Judas Priest ‘Unleashed In The East’, Thin Lizzy ‘Live And Dangerous’!” Okay, the second list does indeed sound a bit more familiar to me ...
Could it be that While Heaven Wept’s kind of music is more "European" in its approach and feeling than it is "American"? Or would the band rather prefer to describe their style as "universal"? Maybe a bit of a tough question ... Tom delves into the topic: “I would say that While Heaven Wept’s music is much more on the European side of things apart from the peppering of the very American AOR and this makes complete sense considering almost all of our influences are European in origin: from Bach, Chopin, and Bruckner to King Crimson to Iron Maiden to Arcturus. I do however think that we perform a kind of Metal that is universal in that we ultimately have something to offer to just about anyone into any underground style of Metal … with the exception of Nu Metal (of course) and there’s not a lot of Grindcore either. Most other subgenres are covered somewhere within our discography.” To support my thesis, when I asked this question I was primarly thinking of Fates Warning (a band Tom admires as much as I do): Their early albums always sounded very "un-American" to my ears (at the time of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Testament). But maybe this was just a gut feeling of mine ... Tom does seem to share my “gut feeling” though: “You’re absolutely right, the early Fates Warning albums were indeed very European in nature, which makes perfect sense considering their primary influences of Maiden, Priest, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath. Even the exception of Rush, that’s another band who was entirely inspired by European bands, and bearing in mind that these are all also influences of While Heaven Wept, along with Fates Warning of course, it’s pretty easy to make the EU connection. The few US bands that I like were all anomalies really, and surely also influenced by the same bands. I’m talking about Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol, and Manilla Road for the record. For myself, the EU is ‘where it’s at’ – it’s where we belong, and will always be our highest priority as a band.”
Matthias Mader