I can count the amount of bands that have truly made an impact on me within the last year on both hands. The Finnish progressive metal act WHEEL definitely belongs to that group. I got to know the band because I interviewed them for their EP "The Divide". I surely was not expecting a debut album so quick after that EP, but when "Moving Backwards" (click here to read review) came out on 22 February 2019, I was impressed by the four-piece all over again. This band may just become one of the most significant progressive metal acts from Finland in the coming years. Before the band heads off to their tour as a support act for SOEN, the band stops at On The Rocks for a headlining show on 27 February 2019.
Supporting the band, is THE PHANTOM OF PHOBOS, I had not heard before of the band, so I came with no expectations to the show. Describing the band's atmospheric sound is a challenging task, but the often slower, emotional songs really set the right kind of atmosphere for the night.The songs in general sound otherworldly, and can lift you up to higher spheres. Being only their first performance as THE PHANTOM OF PHOBOS, I definitely can see this act hitting more and more stage. Personal highlights for me were "Made Of Stars", "No Signal" and "Of The Undead".
WHEEL set for the stage hiding under their hoods, in a dramatic setting caused by the stage lights. While playing the first song of Vultures", also the opener of "Moving Backwards" the four-piece show their capabilities, by playing the complex song without any noticeable mistakes. The band continues playing their debut album, almost effortlessly. Of course, the kind of music doesn't allow the musicians to do any gimmicks, and they kind of stay put in position focused on their craft. This, however, is not an issue, it's impressive to say the least to see the band play those polyrhythms.
For a Wednesday evening, WHEEL managed to gather a lot of fans to witness their album release show. Browsing through the crowd, I see a lot of people moving to the complex rhythms of the music, a lot of happy faces, and even some people singing along with vocalist James Lascelles. Even though the album has only been out for 5 days, it seems like a lot of people were as impressed as I was, and therefore the ticket sales were definitely a positive surprise! The band played through their debut album, and then played some songs of the EPs.
All-in-all WHEEL played a solid set of progressive rock/metal (whatever you deem fit). It was a great experience to finally hear their songs in a live setting, and it's clear that that's supposed to be how you listen to their songs! The four-piece is definitely ready to rock around Europe and convert a lot of people into WHEEL fans!