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While Heaven Wept - "Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence - Live At The Hammer Of Doom Festival" (CD)

While Heaven Wept - "Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence - Live At The Hammer Of Doom Festival" CD cover image

"Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence - Live At The Hammer Of Doom Festival" track listing:

1. Vast Oceans Lachrymose (4:44)
2. The Furthest Shore (Parts 1-3) (6:43)
3. Soulsadness (7:05)
4. The Drowning Years (4:44)
5. Of Empires Forlorn (7:11)
6. Vessel (6:54)
7. Thus With A Kiss I Die (19:05)

Reviewed by on January 23, 2011

"...this seven track live affair offers up an enjoyable experience; one that draws you in and makes you feel as if you were standing in the front row."

Let's face it. For the most part, live albums suck and are usually meant only for the band's most extreme die-hard fans. Taking personal tastes into account, there's really only one live album that I can ever listen to on a regular basis, and that's Metallica's "S&M" symphony set. But that's different, and in my mind, it doesn't even count due to it’s "once in a lifetime" atmosphere. While Iron Maiden's exceptional "Rock In Rio" package and Dark Tranquillity's "Where Death Is Most Alive" are also two fantastic live releases, they are really the only other live albums I can bear to listen to and are yet only something you can fully enjoy once. So you can imagine my level of displeasure upon receiving a live album for review. Even more so, when it was from a band I was sparsely familiar with: While Heaven Wept.

As far as melodic doom metal bands are concerned, While Heaven Wept is apparently at the top of its class and after taking several trips through its first ever live release, I am not surprised that the band is held in such high regard. Maybe it was the fact of not knowing what to expect that made the experience so enjoyable but none-the-less "Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence" is a fantastic live album that captures the band's energy perfectly. The entire set list has an over-the-top feel of epicness when the music itself is taken into account. The members of While Heaven Wept are exceptionally talented and this is displayed with a solid hour's worth of flawless musicianship. The vocalist is also wonderful and possesses a commanding vocal range that draws the audience in, taking them through the emotional peaks and valleys right along with him - at times even sounding similar to Bruce Dickenson.

While there is nothing to complain about in reference to the band's performance, there is one major thing that holds this live album back from being a truly endearing release. The big problem here is the utter lack of any crowd enthusiasm. With only a small amount of interaction featured in the track "Vessel," it’s as if the band is the opening act at a senior citizen's care home banquet, with Randy Travis being the featured headliner. If the band members weren't pouring their hearts out at full volume you probably could hear the audience's bones creak. Even after just a few spins I found myself catching on to certain melodies and vocal lines and felt compelled to try and sing along, to which I failed of course. But I tried, so why the hell couldn't the crowd try to show some love for what was and still is a great performance?

With crowd reaction aside, "Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence" is a fantastic live album that provides a fun listen each and every time. The band is spot on and even for someone not familiar with While Heaven Wept's material, this seven track live affair offers up an enjoyable experience; one that draws you in and makes you feel as if you were standing in the front row. One minor thing some fans might take exception to is the small stature of the set list, which features only seven songs (on the CD version). But the set is still a near hour long and features an eighteen minute rendition of "Thus With A Kiss I Die," one that contains some beyond human soloing in the guitar department. When all is said and done and the band makes its exit off stage, the crowd finally shows some appreciation for While Heaven Wept’s masterful performance and ends the album fittingly, with a slow fade out to a cheering audience.

Highs: The perfect example of what a live album should be like, in terms of performance. Crisp audio and raw production.

Lows: The lack of crowd enthusiasm puts a slight damper on the overall package.

Bottom line: A fantastic live album that unfortunately suffers, just slightly, from poor crowd interaction.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)