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Wheel – Preserved In Time Award winner

Preserved In Time
by Mark Machlay at 14 April 2021, 6:22 AM

With the same vintage vibe that thrust GHOST onto a worldwide stage, German doom metal band WHEEL proudly present what is possibly their finest work to date with “Preserved in Time” after a near 8 year hiatus. Formed in 2006 in Dortmund, Germany, guitarist Benjamin Homberger, bassist Marcus Grabowski and vocalist Arkadius Kurek would join together under the name ETHEREAL SLEEP. Having already been familiar with each other through their previous bands. They had grown tired of playing power metal with AVANITAS and thrash metal with MCDEATH and were instead inspired by KATATONIA, OPETH, and PARADISE LOST to create their own brand of vintage inspired doom metal.

Once drummer Carsten Jercke joined the group in 2009, Jercke suggested a name change, offering WHEEL which was not only easier to pronounce but also resembled the slowly grinding mill wheel heard on the intro to “Mills of God” from their self-titled 2010 debut album. Unfortunately, after releasing their second album “Icarus” in 2013 the band would go dormant, having many unfortunate circumstances stack on top of each other. They first lost their rehearsal space and then real-life events such as families and day jobs would take precedence. However, the band would continue to write music and the time only afforded them the means to fine-craft their tunes and able to find a new label in Cruz Del Sur Music.

Having found a new rehearsal space, “Preserved in Time” would be recorded by Homberger in that space and mixed and mastered by Dennis Koehne who has worked with power metal group ORDEN OGAN and Italian gothic metal band LACUNA COIL. The production is a bold step forward from their previous efforts while remaining raw, heavy and doom-laden. Perfection is not entirely the goal, however. The desire to still have a human element was evident and so the members decided to leave in minor mistakes and unlike the majority of professional metal bands these days, opted not to use a click track, which allowed the tracks to breathe a natural life.

Personally, I see the album title as a reflection of those 8 years of inactivity, years in which they may not have been gigging or releasing music, but they were creating nonetheless. According to Homeberger, the album title was inspired by the idea that time is a vessel, and all that happened is preserved as long as someone remembers. That time away certainly paid off because they have tightened and focused their sound to deliver a perfectly honed classic doom sound ala ST. VITUS but through a more epic lens very similar in tone to early GHOST albums. From the beginning, “At Night They Came Upon Us” opens with this spiraling, classic heavy metal riff with medieval sounding harmonizes vocals giving a grand and almost “divine” opening to “Preserved in Time”. It’s classic doom, while “After All” has more CANDLEMASS-like riffs while upping the epic doom metal feel. It’s got this climbing, crawling doubled lead line that slowly ends with a climax before dropping off a cliff into the epic abyss, quite breathtaking.

“Aeon of Darkness” is more prog and OPETH influenced starting off with their classic clean passages before passing through several twists and turns in its extensive 7 and a half minute runtime, one of the few longer songs on the record. Honestly, when I first heard the record blind, I didn’t think of doom metal, I simply thought it was a natural extension of power metal without the flash. WHEEL has really surprised me on this record and I, for one, am certainly glad they are back after a long hiatus.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. At Night They Came Upon Us
2. When the Shadow Takes You Over
3. After All
4. She Left in Silence
5. Aeon of Darkness
6. Hero of the Weak
7. Daedalus
Arkadius Kurek – Vocals
Benjamin Homberger – Guitar
Marcus Grabowski – Bass
Carsten Jercke – Drums
Record Label: Cruz Del Sur Music


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