With time seemingly at a premium in all aspects of life, especially free time to do as one wishes it is far too easy to be acquainted with bands and artists in name and reputation but not through the real attention they quite possibly deserve. Finnish progressive rockers Wheel is such an outfit with us. The release of The Path EP last year sparked potent acclaim for the 2015 founded band; praise that reached us here even though its sounds evaded close focus. We have not made the same mistake this time around though with its successor, The Divide EP a collection of tracks which roar and seduce with craft and enterprise whilst enthralling the imagination in their complexities, intricacies, and emotive landscapes.
Helsinki based, Wheel weave a sound which is as familiar as it is fresh and bold. It is easy to suggest comparisons to bands such as Karnivool, The Pineapple Thief, and Tool though none are an exact match or true clue to the powerful sound within the release. There is a touch of all in its tracks but each swiftly proven individual to Wheel with the outstanding voice of English vocalist James Lascelles at their heart.
Produced and mixed by Jesse Vainio (Apocalyptica, Poets Of The Fall, Sunrise Avenue), The Divide opens with Please. Immediately the dark growl of Mikko Määttä’s bass entices ears and attention, the crispy beats of Santeri Saksala enticing alongside. The pair is soon joined by the flavoursome lures of the guitars, a mix settling into a suggestive stroll as Lascelles tones step forward. There is a slight Bush like scent to the song at this point, its tempting tendrils and intimation a flirtation easy to grab with hunger. Lead guitarist Roni Seppänen weaves a web of adventure and craft as the track grows, Lascelles backing him with string and voice as the tempestuous heart of the song erupts with increasing rigour. As suggested earlier, there is something recognisable about the song yet every twist is unexpected and each of its emerging textures and turns a spark for the imagination.
Powerful in tone and voice and coming in two versions on the EP, radio edit and extended cut, the track is an easy pleasure to devour and pretty much matched in strength and adventure by Pyre. It is aflame from the off, rhythms and guitar colluding in a tenacious proposal as muscle and enterprise unite in persuasive voracity, vocals equally blazing alongside. As in the previous track there is a grunge bred lining which adds to its richness and magnetic layers. Similarly there are also the expected detours and twists, all fluid and imaginative as the track continues to melodically holler and emotively croon over instinctive volatility.
Completing the line-up of songs is It’s Over Now, a compelling ballad aligning melancholic strings and Lascelles’ similarly magnetic vocals to the melodic poetry of the guitars. Compared to their dynamic shaping of the other tracks, rhythms provide a calm almost reserved presence but one just as suggestive in their shadowed touch.
If like us Wheel has yet to make it upon the radar we can only suggest, indeed urge The Divide EP is given keen attention, the rewards as the pleasure are quite addictive.
The Divide EP is out now via Umbrella Productions / Warner ADA.
Pete RingMaster 05/06/2018
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