Everything goes in circles. I still remember my shock after the very first listening of WHEEL’s same titled debut back in 2010. I was very happy to notice a Doom Metal emphasizing on the vocal melodies, letting them shine upon a sold and perfectly balanced riffing consisting both of Traditional and Epic Doom Metal themes. I could not stop playing the album from start to finish and I still remember those car rides having the CD blasting on the speakers.
The story is pretty much the same with the band’s new album but I got to tell you that the shock is even bigger. Eight years after the second album, the Germans return and let me please tell you that they have delivered a masterpiece.
There are a lot of features on the very special songwriting of this band’s music that got to be mentioned. I will start with the basics and I will repeat myself about the riffing. WHEEL are managing to generate a perfect balancing on the basis of their songs.
What is this balancing is all about? Well at first, they would hand pick riffs influenced by the Traditional Doom Metal genre. On the top of those riffs, there are those extra lead themes that would be added, and the result would sound simply magnificent. But the story does not end here, and this is a very important part on the WHEEL magic: Just when you think that a WHEEL song would go on on this hypnotic, dark and crawling mood, you will be surprised to witness an almost mysterious transformation: The riffing would become more pounding, bringing into the front that dark / epic mood that is given to you under a special WHEEL way!
Without a second thought I brought into my mind the SOLITUDE AETURNUS, “Through The Darkest Hour”, “Downfall” and “Adagio” material, but still such albums can be mentioned only as references, because even the more epic and pounding moments on WHEEL’s music are sounding as something totally unique. Why? Because this hypnotic delirium that the listener would be invited into, by each and every song, remains even during those pounding moments. We got tones of melody -and I will return to this point again on the text bellow- but on the same time we got a solid and almost minimal result as far as the sound’s aesthetic. The right thing on the right place, in this journey on the void of sorrow.
However the most important feature on WHEEL’s music is the voice. It is hard for me to describe how strong is the impact of Arkadius Kurek’s vocals on the the band’s songs. I am going to use the word “trademark” in here. Once you hear this magnificent voice, you will never forget it. It is not only the voice color, it is not only the depth on the vocal interpretation, there are much more to be heard in here. And I am basically referring to the vocal melodies that transform each and every song of this record to a total masterpiece. Yes I should mention the outstanding verses, and those redemptive choruses as well.
The overall songwriting is perhaps the most important feature of this album. Here we are dealing with an epic, expansive batch of songs that highlights Kurek’s depth as a vocalist as well as the band’s sterling compositional abilities. It is really difficult to pick a specific song from the album, each and every composition in here, is perfect.
The sound of the album is ideal. Yes a great job has been done on the production part, bringing to front a crystal, clear and very heavy sound.There is a warm, almost live feeling spread around those recordings, a natural feeling (the band members even left in some minor mistakes and recorded the material without a click-track). The album was recorded by the guitarist Benjamin Homberger in the band’s rehearsal room and it was mixed and mastered by Dennis Koehne.
To cut a long story story sort, here we are dealing with a Doom Metal masterpiece. Perfect songwriting, amazing, deep singing and a heavy solid sound that brings to front the dark and melancholic vibe of WHEEL’s music.
ps. I can not even count the times how many times I have heard the “When the Shadows Takes You Over”, for me this is an is an informal sequel to the “Eyes of the Hydra” song from the debut, one of the best Doom Metal song composed during past decade.