In early 2015, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT mainman Tom Phillips had to regrettably pull the plug on the band’s European tour in support of their latest studio album, “Suspended At Aphelion”. The decision led to Phillips’ unexpected retirement from the metal scene, effectively putting the revered doomsters on ice. However, Phillips and his bandmates have long sought to make amends to the European crowds who have so strongly backed WHILE HEAVEN WEPT over the years. Now, as 2018 draws to a close, the most recent incarnation of WHILE HEAVEN WEPT that started with 2009’s classic “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” will play its final shows together on a run of European dates that begins November 16 at Germany’s Hammer Of Doom festival.
“I agreed to do these shows to give everyone else — the band members, our fans, even myself some closure, especially since the last tour was cancelled,” says Phillips. “The other aspect is the circumstances and priorities of the musicians involved are simply not aligned with what an actively touring band requires anymore.”
The “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” lineup — rounded out by bassist Jim Hunter, vocalist Rain Irving, second guitarist Scott Loose, keyboardist/harmony vocalist Michelle Schrotz and drummer Trevor Schrotz — have been holed up in a Virginia rehearsal room putting together a setlist that is not only representative of the latest era of WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, but the band’s storied past as well. According to Phillips, some of WHILE HEAVEN WEPT’s most memorable shows have taken place on European shores, including their 2010 appearance at Hammer Of Doom alongside Irish metallers PRIMORDIAL, which was not only Irving’s third show with the band, but also where the “Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence” DVD/live album was recorded.
“We’ve always had a great time sharing the stage with PRIMORDIAL,” he says. “I think we’ve played with them more than anyone else in our history — and that’s always been such a great insight into the scope of melancholia and epos. Of course, we’ve also had the great honor of playing with heroes, family and upcoming bands who have gone on to become some of the biggest names out there like ALCEST and GHOST. Most of all though, it’s connecting directly with the people who really care about what we do and again, that’s what these upcoming shows are really about.”
The shows will offer another treat for fans — a limited-edition shirt commemorating the 30th anniversary of the band. “It’s an exclusive design by Gustavo Sazes, who has done the covers for our last couple of albums,” says Phillips. “There’s quite a few layers to the design and it definitely correlates to ‘Fear Of Infinity’ and ‘Suspended At Aphelion’. Personally, I think it turned out amazing and while it does represent our 30th anniversary, for now, it will be available exclusively at the concerts.” `
While these European dates signal the end for the “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” era of WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, it does not mean the end for the band. Phillips says there is an entire album of unfinished material that sits between “Fear Of Infinity” and “Suspended At Aphelion” in which he may look to finalize at some point.
“In the end, I’d started on a solo project prior to being involved with the WALPYRGUS album [2017’s ‘Walpyrgus Nights’], but with the WHILE HEAVEN WEPT shows coming up, I haven’t even looked at that again. But for WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, as long as I’m breathing, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT exists, even if the lineup changes for the nth time or we are strictly DIY on a small, independent scale. Only time will tell. For now, it’s time to commemorate a milestone and the end of an era!”
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT 2018 European tour dates:
November 16 – Hammer Of Doom, Würzburg, Germany
November 18 – Temple, Athens, Greece
November 24/25 – Dutch Doom Days, Baroeg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
December 7 – Under The Doom VI, LAV Lisboa ao Vivo, Lisbon, Portugal
December 8 – Madrid Is The Dark, Madrid, Spain