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Wheel - Resident Human Award winner

Resident Human
by Emily Schneider at 26 April 2021, 6:49 AM

WHEEL is an English and predominantly Finnish band. They released their first full-length album in 2019 and after the constant flow of change and chaos worldwide due to the pandemic, the 4 piece band was inspired to write their next album in tandem. The result is this raw and real Prog Metal album “Resident Human” which has the emotional class of SOEN and the atmosphere building of A PERFECT CIRCLE. Read on for an enthusiastic track by track breakdown.

Dissipating” is a stunning opening track. The layers of tension and emotion are painted so intricately with low thrumming bass lines, building melodies, and lyrics that unfold to an emotional catharsis at the 6 minute mark. It winds back down in retrospection then takes off once more at around 9 minutes. There's a real feeling of introspection and urgency weaved within the music, like revelation that things aren't what you once believed is sinking in.

Movement” was inspired by the  with lots of groovy Djent style riffs. There were feelings of passion with the heavier melodies at the chorus and verses, expressing the reactions between revolutionaries vs their oppressors. The bridge was the most powerful though; the pacing slowed and the vocals were quieter, much more vulnerable. It was like the 'voice at the back of your mind' point, when all the fighting feels like too much. Then the final lyrics “We all know the price of silence” overpower these feelings of doubt and finishes this one off with a bout of shivers down the spine.

Ascend” expresses what many of us experienced during the lockdowns of the past year which was creative burnout. We were so bombarded with information and conflicting opinions, we were ready to just break out of it however possible. The frustration can be felt in the heavy, chaotic guitars and crashing percussion.

Hyperion” is the epic 12 minute track right in the heart of this album. The vocal melody paired with the bass style at the beginning reminds me a lot of KARNIVOOL. It was great to listen to this with the lyrics in front of me, it made all the more impact while listening. This song essentially captures the collective shock the entire world endured during the thick of the pandemic. There were so many raw human emotions we all felt across oceans and continents, without even realizing it. “We forget none of this is a given' along with “Nothing lasts forever' being repeated in the lyrics a handful of times each really made these harsh realities hit so hard. The way the melody would shift at those points, get more distorted like it was painful to say as it sank in deeper. The guitar solos were excellent at continuing these emotions as it lead to the final chorus of bitter acceptance.

Fugue” is a rather serene track, with lighter melodies and layered vocals. This one expresses the need to look within oneself and to shut out the variety of distractions modern life evokes. I caught some PORCUPINE TREE elements here. This one leads into the title track “Resident Human”. This song sums up the entire album in such a raw yet strangely beautiful way. This one relates heavily to “Hyperion” with how the change for all of humanity created this drive to change individual thought processes. After experiencing such a wide-spread traumatic point in world history, we all have to change to cope in this aftermath period we're all in. The way the melodies shift as the lyrics go from some anger and expressions of feeling overloaded with information , to some crashing chaotic emotions as the resistance to the inevitable change takes over. There were plenty of Djent style guitar portions and crazed percussion showing the power these emotions have over the body. Ultimately though, it takes grounding yourself in order accept what's all happened and to allow it to change you in a positive way. “Old Wheel” is a 'take a breath and exhale' piano track to bring this album to a close.

Overall, this is a truly fantastic album. It's almost impossible to have lived through 2020 without coming out of it with so much to express and to discuss. The way WHEEL creates so many emotions with every element of their music makes this such a whirlwind to experience, in a positive way. They recreated those times of existential crisis along with the feelings of terror and anger, yet there was always a touch of hope or acceptance weaved into every track. (implied with the melodies or sang in the lyrics) This album captures just how much a traumatic experience in world history like the pandemic changed every single human being alive in some form and resisting that change is impossible… but bound to happen due to human nature and our finding comfort in the stable things. It's such a raw look at our new reality and what lead up to this point. The way the songs would build and unfold as emotions ebb and flowed makes this album a shimmering diamond in this otherwise rough point in societal history.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Dissipating
2. Movement
3. Ascend
4. Hyperion
5. Fugue
6. Resident Human
7. Old Earth
James Lascelles - Vocals & Guitar
Santeri Saksala - Drums
Aki 'Conan' Virta - Bass
Jussi Turunen - Lead Guitar
Record Label: OMN Records


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Edited 14 May 2021

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