We’ve already bumped into a few new names this year, and one of them is a new band in the prog scene: WHEEL. This band was formed when vocalist James Lascelles moved from the UK to Finland to pursue a music career, and joined forces with Mikko Määttä (bass), Santeri Saksala (drums), and Saku Mattila (guitar), who was later replaced by Roni Seppänen. Finland’s selection of prog is pretty limited/nonexistent, so we were curious to check out their debut album, which is released today, on February 22nd, 2019.
The album is only seven songs long, but in true prog fashion still clocks in at 48 minutes, with three songs over 9 minutes in length. To get the elephant out of the room early on… yes, this band sounds like TOOL. Lascelles definitely has a voice that could easily cover any song Maynard James Keenan has written and he uses a lot of the same vocal techniques as Keenan as well. As well, the rhythm section has a very TOOL sound to it. Some people might not like this, but I find there’s more to this band than just sounding like TOOL. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but there is an element that elevates them beyond your average TOOL-ripoff-band.
With long prog songs, it’s so important to make sure the individual parts of the song don’t drag on too long. I’m glad to announce that WHEEL does not have this issue. The smooth, unique guitar sounds keep the songs moving and successfully avoid any sort of stagnation. The transitions between the individual parts of the songs (and even between the songs themselves) are easy and natural and make the whole album work as separate pieces, or as a whole listenable album.
Overall, this whole album simply feels good. It has the right amount of energy, balanced with ever-changing music that has a positively familiar yet original sound. It’s not too long and there’s nothing too weird, artistic, or experimental to put off casual listeners. I’m not someone who listens to a lot of prog, so with that in mind, this album has been played a lot since it was brought to my attention.
As the budding fanbase has been saying over and over, I too now have an album to enjoy while waiting for the next TOOL album. This winning combination of vocals, rhythm section, and sweet, sweet prog might be the best thing to come out of Finland in a while, and I can’t wait to hear more from these guys in the future (and to check them out live in May).
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Up the Chain
- Where the Pieces Lie
James Lascelles – vocals, guitar
Roni Seppänen – guitar
Mikko Määttä – bass
Santeri Saksala – drums
Odyssey Music Network