"Charismatic Leaders" (Inside Out Music; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This is my first time listening to Wheel, and I honestly had no idea what to expect. When I hit PLAY on my audio player, I didn't know if I was gonna get death metal, doom metal, nu-metal or any of the other (way-too-goddamn many) sub-genres of metal. Come to find out it was prog-metal, which we've been getting a lot of for review here at RoughEdge.com.

The thing about Wheel, at least on "Charismatic Leaders," is that they have a very different sound. It's a very modern sound, with crisp, clean vocals, throbbing rhythms and melodic tones that stick to your ears. It's almost experimental in its execution, with the strength of the melodic vocals combining with the less-than-melodic music behind them. I'm listening to the massive, almost eleven-minute, Track 3, "Submission," for the second time as I'm writing this, and I'm hard-pressed to keep writing and not push back from the keyboard and just listen. The music is reaching out for me, demanding my attention, and it deserves it.

All of the tracks are like that. They're big, they're beckoning, they're complex and rich. The only exception is the very short "Caught in the Afterglow" which is more of an intro to the closing track, "The Freeze," which starts out with a gentle four-and-a-half minute build-up before crescendoing into something bigger.

Sometimes, progressive metal can sound a little too much the same. Not so with Wheel. They're doing it differently and they're doing it well. Time for me to go back and explore the band's back catalog.

For more information, check out http://wheelband.net/.  

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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