It’s been almost 13 years since Tool last deemed mankind worthy of an album, and as we tentatively quimper into what many would have us believe are the vinegar strokes of the long and agonising wait for a follow-up, it seems Finnish/British devotees Wheel have had enough. Or as frontman James Lascelles puts it, “while we wait for that next Tool album, we thought we’d just make what we’d want to hear”.
The band’s debut full-length, Moving Backwards, is relatively unashamed in its quest for that end goal, marrying battle-ready riffs with propulsive atmospherics and long, driving builds, often landing satisfyingly close to the target, but while the spirit of their heroes is what drives these wheels, there is more than simple Tool-worship fueling these tanks. The three 10-minute epics that form the backbone of the album have more than enough nuance, shonky time signatures and that bass sound to satisfy the prog acolytes out there, but it’s the hearty big budget grunge riffs peppering the album that raise Moving Backwards above mere pastiche. Hulking great off-cuts from the likes of Soundgarden, Seether and defunct Brit rockers Romans pop up at unexpected moments like lank-haired, plaid-wearing Whack-A-Moles, bursts of power that create instant earworms out of the like of Wheel or Where The Pieces Lie. Like some glorious jam session between Karnivool and Kadaver, Moving Backwards achieves the unimaginable, or for some the unforgivable, and manages to somehow makes prog metal immediate, so if Periphery are too whimsical and Alice in Chains too straightforward, then hitch yourself to this Wheel.
Moving Backwards is out 22 February via Odyssey Music Network
Wheel play the Islington Academy in London on 25 March as part of a European tour with Soen