Rightfully hailed by many as one of the true gems of modern symphonic rock, High Wheel's third effort There, originally released in 1997, is back after being out of print for several years. Featuring remastered sound and reissued by Progress Records, High Wheel's concept album of a life and death journey now sounds better than ever. Musically, these guys walk a fine line between the classic space rock of Pink Floyd and Eloy with the harder edge neo-prog of IQ and Pallas. That line is especially evident on the devastating 8-minute instrumental opener "Into Void". Wolfgang Hierl's biting guitar leads call to mind the work of Frank Bornemann at his heaviest while keyboardist Andreas Lobinger's soaring digital/analog rig is straight out of the School of Martin Orford.
You say you want epics? The skillfully woven five-part title track clocks in at 19 minutes and will leave you breathless. Particularly effective is the dramatic "Dethroned Realities" sequence and the emotional guitar outro of "Sanctum". Then there's the 16-minute "Metamorphosis". Chock full of crunchy guitar riffing, dissonant keyboards and even some Gentle Giant like vocals, this piece has a lot going for it. I don't think the final sequence ("Hate Hounds") is quite as successful as it rather arbitrarily takes the piece into Uriah Heep territory. Still, it rocks pretty hard.
"Two Towers" features a very effective arrangement. Broken into three segments, "Light" is a symphonic rock anthem, "Sound" is a spacey majestic instrumental while "The Savior" is an English pub song of sorts. And that is what is key to enjoying this very lengthy 76 minute CD: the diversity of the material, the willingness to experiment a bit and the fact that High Wheel do it so damn well. By the time you get to the Tangerine Dream inspired "The Room of Decision", you'll be wondering if you're listening to the same band.
High Wheel have been pretty quiet on the recording front in recent years. Here's hoping they make a comeback real soon. For anyone who might be new to the band, the new edition of There is as good of a place to start as any.
- Into Voyage
- Terminal Scorn Serenade
- There (inc. Trial, No Place to Hide, Is There Anything Left, Dethroned Realities, Sanctum)
- Two Towers (inc. Light, Sound, The Savior)
- Metamorphosis (inc. Brain Moles, Crystal Bird, Hate Hounds)
- Dystopia (inc. Warheads, Digisiren)
- The Room of Decision (inc. Brainstorm, Decision)
- Birth (inc. In the Tunnel, Stars)