The Finnish metal scene already has a wide variety of tastes on its platter, one of the more recent additions to the scene is Wheel. The newcomers have been around since 2015 and have released one EP to the masses called “The Path”. Wheel is what you would call a modern progressive rock/metal band, even though there are many different sounds that are integrated into their sound. Some years later, it’s time for a second EP called “The Divide”.
As with most progressive bands, it’s quite tricky to do a track-by-track review. There are so many different massive sounds that songs easily feel like labyrinths. Opening track “Please” is presented both as a radio edit of 4 minutes and the longer version, which is about 2 and half minutes longer. Both work pretty well, but of course personally I always prefer the versions that bands have intended for the audience to listen to. In general “Please” is a good way to understand the kind of music Wheel plays. It’s clear right from the start that they play around with polyrhythms with such ease that it’s quite intricate music to listen to. However, in all three of the songs there are many catchy parts in their music as well. But the level of intricacy, also shows of great musicianship in all departments. The vocals are clean, but sometimes have a little more edginess to them, when James uses more gritty vocals, which is consistent throughout the EP.
“Please” definitely gives a good insight into Wheel’s sound, but personally for me “Pyre” is the highlight of the EP. The proof of that lies in just one passage of the song. “Pyre” starts off really powerful, with a great catchy driving guitar melody line, bringing us to a Meshuggah-like heavy riff. Even though progressive, it sounds as dirty as plain old traditional hard rock, with a twist. The rhythm that vocalist James lies into the vocals, makes the song an easy song to listen to, with a lot of interesting twists, more focused on rhythm than melody. And then around 4 minutes and 30 seconds is when the magic for me starts to happen. This is definitely one of the favorite passages of the EP. Normally I’m not really that specific about time codes in my reviews, but this passage definitely deserves it. The drum part in that section of the song, is really unexpected and simply put genius. It’s then followed by a slower guitar solo, which drives the song to a next level and after that quickly picks up pace. This sequence is definitely a highlight, but the good stuff doesn’t end there. From there on the song only becomes better and better, up until the moment the sound dies out.
“It’s Over Now”, is the last song on the EP and it features Paavo Lötjönen (Apocalyptica) on cello. It’s a slower song at first, the combination with the cello really creates a specific atmosphere. In this song it becomes clear that the band is not just making songs, just because they can, it’s stories that they try to convey. I have been pretty much hyping up “Pyre”, but “It’s Over Now” is a song that gives me goosebumps. It’s beautiful and a really suiting ending for the EP.
Wheel was definitely a great discovery and I can totally recommend their new EP. Everything just works in this album. The production is great, I have nothing to remark on it. I especially like the vocals in the mix, they become crisp and clear and it’s very easy to follow James’ lyrics without having a booklet or anything in front of you. Like I mentioned during “It’s Over Now”, the whole EP kind of feels like a story. Their music is maybe not something that you want to put on when you have had a complex day already, it’s not background music. It’s the kind of music that you need to pay attention to, to be able to understand it. The EP lasts a little bit over 20 minutes, but I can tell you that it was way too short. All-in-all that leaves me to say that if you’re a prog rock and even a progressive metal fan, this is definitely a band that you should check out, because after all who doesn’t like heavy riffs, intricate polyrhythms, compelling solos and often hauntingly beautiful melodies?
- Please (Radio Edit)
- It’s Over Now
James Lascelles – Vocals, Guitar
Roni Seppänen – Lead Guitar
Mikko Määttä – Bass
Santeri Saksala – Drums
Saku Mattila – Lead Guitar on EP “The Divide”
1 June 2018
Umbrella Artist Productions
For Fans Of
Karnivool, Meshuggah, Tool, A Perfect Circle, progressive rock, progressive metal