Before listening to this album by Wheel In The Sky, as usual, I did a search to see just what I could find out about this band from Uppsala, just outside Stockholm, Sweden. Apart from the usual Facebook, all I could find was a Bandcamp page and an ad for a couple of gigs, one of which was the launch party for the album, and both of which are from Dec 2015. This is a shame, because once I started listening to the album, I quickly realised that the songs are there, but there seems to be a big lack of activity and conviction in promoting it.
Wheel In The Sky describe themselves as a psychedelic rock band, and the album as, and I quote:
“Eight tracks of pure rock energy combined with the fury and drug-induced psychosis of sixties”
Great, I thought, as I imagined Hawkwind-esque sounds to make my eardrums dance, but after a couple of tracks, I was scratching my head I little. I like what I am hearing, but I am not getting the drug-induced psychosis I was promised. There are hints of AC/DC, The Cult, even Stiff Little Fingers… no bad comparisons. I thought, I am just not getting the psychedelic angle? förlåt mig grabbar (sorry lads)!!
We are lured into this album with some fine atmospheric acoustic guitar for the first minute and a half, before being slammed in the face with the full force of ‘Death To All’. As the first four words were sung, I immediately think, Ian Astbury. I would love to tell you which one of the lads is singing but I can find more info on who recorded and mastered the album than I can about those playing on it! The band members are: Einar Petersson, David Berlin, Carl Norman & Daniel Uggla. Moaning aside, the track is great. It really reminds me of The Cult, riffin’ and rockin’ with melodies to sing along with, and given a little production makeover, an anthemic chorus in the making. Good start, I thought, and ‘Jezebel’ keeps the momentum going in the same vein, albeit with much more of a seventies feel. That said, the sound is more together, and altogether more powerful than the bands of the era ever were, and it really brings those riffs and bass runs bang up to date, while still keeping the feeling of a times gone by. In fact, if you check out their Facebook page, you will find one of the strangest music videos to accompany this track.
‘Damn It All To Hell’ stands out from the next three tracks, and really reminds me of early AC/DC. Is it the riffs, the guitar sound? I am not sure. I also hear little aspects of Stiff Little Fingers, a simple elegance in the songcraft that just gets the point across, despite minor niggles with aspects of production. ‘Thrust In The Night’ brings us back to, what I feel, is the band’s comfort zone, the Cult/Astbury thing. This is one of those tracks that, given half a chance, could become a real anthem. It has all the aspects of a future classic, it just needs to be set free on an unsuspecting public and allowed to grow in their minds. Definitley the highlight of the album for me, and if I were asked to choose a track that defined Wheel In The Sky, this would be the one. It displays all the energy and class that I feel these guys should be concentrating on, as they are bloody good at it!!
I am glad to say that the last couple of tracks live up to expectations, and carry on the theme with force and energy ‘A Turn For The Wicked’ has real class and quality in it’s construction and melodies, and is possibly the most commercial of the tracks on this offering. ‘God On High’ takes us out with some high energy rock that typifies this album and also provides some poignant, if not quite psychedelic moments.
I really, REALLY enjoyed this album. In places it made me say “wow”, in others I said “that’s okay”, but I never once felt let down by the music. My concern lies in the lack of anything going on in terms of gigs, tours, and promotion in general. As I write this review, the album has already been available for the last month, and although not a crime, it hints to a lack of planning. I like the songs. I like the sound. I am just worried that Wheel In The Sky will never escape that hot basement and hit the road in order to share their music to the masses. I really hope they do take this on the road, as I for one will be the first in line to see them live.
Reviewer- Simon Larkin