[color=yellow][size=5][font=Georgia]Since forming in 2007 near Oslo, Norway, THE WHEEL have been recording their debut album while building a name in the live circuit. Playing alongside UFO, Ken Hensley and The Quireboys at festivals has gained them a reputation of a rock solid live band in Scandinavia.
Their self-titled CD was initially presented last year, and now with a better distribution company behind them, The Wheel are ready to show the world their sonic combination of the '70s, '80s and '90s.
At first glance it may look weird on paper, but their sound mixture works really well interspersing blistering guitar riffs from '70s references like Led Zeppelin, Free and the first Van Halen, with a nod to '80s acts like Badlands and spiced with '90s bands like Soundgarden, but the latter only related to the vocals.
Occurs that The Wheel's singer Jan Erik Salvesen vocal color is a mix between Chris Cornell and Sammy Hagar, but the musical focus in the band is driven by founder member Orjan Kvalvik's guitars containing echoes of both Eddie Van Halen and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page.
"Into The Water", for example, is a prime slice of good-time rock about the simple pleasures of hitting the beach, with the recognition of summer's 'sunny days gettin´ shorter'. The track feels like it could've been lifted right off Van Halen's '5150'.
Those looking for a little more bluesy hard rock will enjoy the Zepp-style slide-guitar-and-scream of "Love".
The slow melodic rocker "Sparks" has a great hook and an excellent vocal job. The Wheel claims influence from earlier Van Halen, but this song sounds very much like Sammy Hagar's eighties time with the band. Really good one.
And they keep offering variation in the Badland's influenced "Stand Up!" featuring some huge percussion and old school guitar work, contrasting with the Chris Cornell-like vocalisation. Strange but effective.
The Wheel breaks out the blues on the slow starting "Lost Souls". This is a very 'sassy' song that shows the band can write a mean song no matter what time frame they are looking at. There is nothing fancy about this track, it's just a good ole' hard blues tune produced the way it should be.
Some great bass work and a jamming feel mark "Walk On Out". The vocals come across as a little strained, but it does remind me of bands in the past. There is a great build to the chorus and once again the songwriting and instrumental talent shines through.
One of the greatest things Van Halen brought to rock — besides Eddie's insane guitar skills — was an unabashed sense of fun. Where Sabbath moped and wailed about Satan and Zeppelin shrieked about myths, David Lee Roth was all about girls and good times. This was metal with a smile.
The Norwegian rockers in The Wheel recapture that feeling on the band's self-titled debut disc.
Don't get me wrong. This is not a VH clone with guitar fireworks, no. The comparison comes from the feeling, the riffs and song structures. But as said, The Wheel turn their style & sound track-after-track, and this is not a disjointed disc at all.
All sounds reminscent of the last 40 years in Rock, but delivered in very different, tasty way. There is a huge trend right now of classic rock coming back and being integrated into the sound of current hard rock bands, but I really don't know of many bands looking to such different eras and genres to make a sound.
And The Wheel does it. And Rocks. And very, very good I'd say.
01. Stand Up! 04:53
02. Into The Water 05:42
03. Love 04:16
04. Tellin’ No Lies 05:23
05. Sparks 05:47
06. Lost Soul 05:18
07. Comin’ On 04:50
08. Walk On Out 04:58
09. Cry Of The Night 03:41
10. All This Time 06:44