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High Wheel: Live Before the Storm

Sometimes the full effect and power of a band cannot be fully heard or realized until you see and hear them in a live setting. Germany's High Wheel are a perfect example of this. The band's last album, Back From the Void, released way back in 2002, was a fine modern prog rock album that blended muscular, almost Gentle Giant styled arrangements with symphonic elements. Despite this solid release (the band's fourth by the way), and a high profile appearance at 2003's North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest), the band practically faded from the radar screen of most proggers.

Until now...

Live Before the Storm is the brand new, sprawling, 2 CD live set from High Wheel, and it's epic in every way, shape, and form. With over two hours of music spread out over two CD's, Live Before the Storm sees High Wheel in their element, on stage at the Kant'n Club, (which no longer exists) recorded March 2005. Many of the band's most memorable and bombastic songs were played that evening, and no less than 7 of the CD's 12 songs exceed the ten-minute mark, so expect plenty of musical fireworks throughout this set. Make no mistake about it, this band is a progressive rock band, but live they take on a certain heaviness that is almost a cross between Dream Theater, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep, and mixed with their complex & quirky Gentle Giant styled arrangements, makes for a unique sound. The line-up here is Wolfgang Hierl (guitar, flute, vocals), Uli Jenne (drums), Erich Kogler (bass, taurus pedal, keyboards, vocals), and Andreas Lobinger (keyboards, vocals), and together they gave the audience their all, turning in a very powerful performance.

Highlights are many, but I'd have to pick tunes like the Hammond driven rocker "High Wheel In The Sky Part 1", the lengthy prog rock opuses "Outside The Circles", "Open Lines", and "There", in addition to the complex yet melodic "The Screamer". Hierl lays down plenty of crunchy riffs and tasty, melodic solos, and the keyboard tones from Lobinger just scream the 70's. The rhythm section of Kogler & Jenne also do a fine job, and Kogler especially drops in tons of slippery, almost jazz-styled fills throughout the album, in addition to blasting the terrain with Taurus bass pedals. Another challenging piece that is not to be missed is the intricate "The Four Reasons", a song that features tremendous guitar & keyboard interplay and rich vocal harmonies, plus wah-wah guitar licks, and some etheral Genesis-sounding flute.

I've you've yet to experience High Wheel, or perhaps not been blown away by their studio output, give Live Before the Storm a chance. It stands a good chance of being one of the best live prog albums you have heard in a while, and should be a strong seller for Progress Records.

Track Listing
CD 1 - 68:31
1. Open Lines (14:52)
2. Void (5:51)
3. The Screamer (12:35)
4. Gear-Wheels (4:24)
5. Gnithon's Promise (4:09)
6. There (26:40)
CD 2 - 67:33
1. Outside The Circles (18:57)
2. Try An Error (5:17)
3. High Wheel In The Sky Part 1 (11:22)
4. The Four Reasons (13:43)
5. Into Voyage (11:56)
6. Hate Hounds (6:18)
Total Time: 136:04

Added: December 14th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: High Wheel Website
Hits: 5970
Language: english

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