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High Wheel - Back From The Void CD (album) cover


High Wheel

Symphonic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Easily the most overrated album from the 21st century and one can fall easily into the trap for it has everything one could for in trem of clichés. I spent easily six months waiting to get this album as between the release and the actual arrival of the Ipso Facto label album , so much was said about how fantastic this album and how frustrating it was to be waiting to discover this so-called masterpiece.

I think it is high time that some neo-prog fans (and reviewers alike) stop and think for a second how much wrong they are doing to their own musical sub-genre as they raised undeservedly the hopes of every progheads, only so most can only be disappointed on hearing the object of such attention. I mean that this album was voted album of the year in a few fanzine (including the one printed by my duddies), but again, this type of album is absolutely NOTHING special, and certainly not a letter home!

This is again not that bad but definitely nothing original (it probably deserves one more star but my deception is such......) and certainly not a masterpiece. Just because we have entered a "new golden age" (in terms of the numbers of record coming out), this does not make chef d'oeuvre around every corner. This sounds like an average prog album that in ten years most everybody will have forgotten.

Report this review (#3458)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars HIGH WHEEL, by means of this new issue, confirm all the good impressions and appreciations too, as well as in their previous remarkable album "There".The right score should be probably a bit superior, but who knows me is already informed about my opinion regarding of new-prog today:I don't get crazy for this kind of progressive music but it's worth checking out at least!!
Report this review (#3459)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Six long years after "There" which was a quite solid album HIGH WHEEL releases with "Back From The Void" a really excellent work that should actually get paid more regard to as it gets IMHO. I can only think of the admittedly poor vocal capabilities of their singer to be the reason for the rather low ratings this band gets. Apart from that fact musicianship, instrumentation and compositional qualities are really flawless and noteworthy. There was an obvious gradual improvement in their releases starting from their weak debut back in 1993 and what they're presenting here should let prick every prog fan's ears actually. Six well elaborated intricate compositions, the last one being a 30 minute mini-opus sub-divided into 10 parts each of them selectable as an individual track. We get to hear plenty of vintage-styled keyboards,, a right measure of oddity, a powerful rhythm section, some pleasant folksy acoustic parts and a touch of prog metal-alike guitar riffing.

The opener "Try An Error" already jumps right out of the speakers with a powerful drum intro, dark Hammond sounds and a strong pumping bass play. I've got to admit the rather oddly sounding vocal harmonies following might need a couple of spins to get used to. Again the band's only problem: the vocals! Nevertheless a great opening track exhibiting in not more than five minutes the full bandwidth of their potential from mellow lyrical parts to ecstatic and powerful ones. Next track "The Screamer" starts in its first part more in an acoustic vein with guitar, some keyboards and the minstrel-type vocals are fitting here quite well I've to say. Part 2 continues in an up-tempo vein, more driven by electric guitar and some oddly sounding choirs. Last part of this song is quite a contrast to the second one starting with church organ followed by soaring electric guitar. "Sleepless" is a rather quiet acoustic ballad and probably the most conventional song on here. Vocals are sounding quite nice on this one. "Void" is the most rocking track showing a touch of Progmetal with vocals that sound partly distorted but well-fitted to the music and some singing with several voices later on. With "Dark" the band returns into a more folksy, medieval vein presenting an ancient traditional on acoustic guitar and flute. There's a quite odd and interesting contrast between the music sounding almost cheerful and the highly serious lyrics which are about death. After this "little highlight" comes the real one of this album, the magnum opus "Blind Archer". That's really an ingenious and haunting piece of work and worth alone the money for this album. Some oddly sounding vocal harmonies and choirs as well here but in some way perfectly fitting. "Intersphere" and "Globes" are both a bit more dominated by keys which is quite exceptional since overall this album is rather focussed on guitar.

Finally I just can say that I'd like to recommend this album to anyone who doesn't mind some odd (but not ugly) vocals in his symphonic prog. It's an excellent and certainly best work by this highly underrated band.

(Edited 8/8/2006)

Report this review (#3462)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Not a bad album by any means from these Germans.These are fairly straight-forward tracks really that are well done, I just don't know if Prog fans will get too excited over this.The vocals are the weakest link but they are okay.

"Try An Error" starts off in a fantastic way with a great heavy sound and prominant organ. Sadly when the vocals arrive i've lost my enthusiasm. Still the instrumental parts of this track kicks some butt. "The Screamer" is over 12 minutes and divided into three sections. First up is "Before The Raid" with it's atmosphere and gentle guitar as reserved vocals join in. It stays mellow throughout. "Blasted By Screams" like the opening track sounds amazing with the deep bass lines and organ.Vocals come in but they sound better than they did on the first tune. Some nice guitar here too, especially before 2 1/2 minutes when it solos. My favourite track on here. "Silent Room" is back to the atmosphere but it does build as vocals join in. Drums to the fore 3 1/2 minutes in. "Sleepless" opens with strummed guitar as vocals join in. I'm not a fan of his singing when he delivers it in a higher pitch like here.The sound gets fuller. I like when the organ comes in at 4 1/2 minutes. "Void" opens fairly heavily with background synths too as vocals come in. Great sound 2 1/2 minutes in when we get some powerful organ and samples. Unfortunately it ends after 3 1/2 minutes and some weird vocal arrangments come in.

"Dark" opens with flute and acoustic guitar. Some mellow vocals join in. Not a fan. "Blind Archer" is the 10 song epic at 32 minutes. First up is "On The Archer's Hill". I like the guitar intro then heavy bass and drums kick in.Yes ! Great sound here.Vocals a minute in as it continues to be heavy. A top three track for sure. "Harvest" is laid back with solo piano to start. It does get fuller and vocals join in. Some excellent sounding guitar before 5 minutes. "Twisted" is a short piece of less than 2 minutes. Organ and a beat are joined by spacey vocals. Cool track with some flute too. "Intersphere" is heavy with organ,bass and drums standing out.The vocals before a minute are okay but they bring the song down in my opinion. "Man In The Clouds" has some guest violin leading the way. Mournful stuff as fragile vocals join in. It does get fuller as violin and reserved vocals continue. "Globes" is spacey throughout. I like it ! "Strings" is almost funky as sounds dance around the soundscape.Vocals a minute in and there are some GENTLE GIANT-like vocal arrangments here. I think this whole song is inspired by them as well. "Arrows" is kind of epic as the guitar soars.Vocals also soar when they come in. "Hall Of Fame" sounds like the same song as the previous one until it settles back. "Archer" is spacey and atmospheric.

A good album with some brilliant sections in it. Defintely check this out if you can because if you like the vocals I think you will rate this high.

Report this review (#408765)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars So many hyperbolic, vitriolic reviews about legitimate music. This is nice varied, well-played, and if not an utter masterpiece, then a superior genre work by skilled musicians who demonstrate imagination and reflexes within several prog-related subtypes. Less of an overabundance of cliche's than perpetrated by the cliche-makers themselves. Too bad the hard work of dedicated musicians ends up the target of self-appointed connoisseurs and guardians of the gates of Prog with a need to make their judgment superior to the creative efforts of others. Most of us try to keep our envy in check and just enjoy the music, and choose what appeals to us, rather than bash the music and the musician. This one is worth a few bucks and a good listen, and is worthy of wider attention.
Report this review (#1097104)
Posted Sunday, December 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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