One memory that still hasn’t loosened its breathtaking grip on me is the performance of the German Epic Doom band Wheel on this year’s Keep it True Rising festival. After already having enthralled me at the Stormcrusher Festival in September I expected to know what was awaiting me, but I was dead wrong! Writing this little report is a paradox in itself, as I’m still speechless.
We knew that the setlist was going to be amazing; while featuring probably the two best songs of their first two albums – the gloomy and slowly marching “Mills of Gold” and the beautifully dramatic and melancholic “Icarus” – it was dominated by songs of their fantastic latest album Preserved in Time. Yet, to be honest their starting situation wasn’t the greatest as Swiss Epic Metallers Megaton Sword had just obliterated the stage with blood, steel and fire. So Wheel would either deliver a once in a lifetime show or they would be overshadowed by their predecessors being sucked into the eternal void of oblivion.
The show started off well, yet one could slightly feel, that this was going to be their so far biggest and greatest show! But already in the course of the phenomenal opener “At Night They Came Upon Us” the performance accelerated and reached an insanely high level. The following song “When the Shadow Takes You Over” then set the atmosphere with its melancholic and dark atmosphere, which skyrocketed the whole performance even further. Wheel and especially vocalist Arkadius Kurek are masters of emotion and combined with their untamable passion they couldn’t be held back anymore which perfectly suited the following song “Icarus”. In its truly legendary chorus Arkadius enchanted the crowd with an extremely powerful and emotional vocal performance I up to this point only knew from Warrel Dane! I am now sure to say that Arkadius is the greatest doom singer Germany currently has to offer – I don’t think that I have to point out that his performance on Preserved in Time outshined all other doom records of the past couple of years! Only rarely have I seen talent being crowned with so much dedication, passion and emotion! Combined with his stage presence, his distinct gesticulation and a dark hood emphasising his corresponding countenance further intensified the performance. Fittingly the next song was “After All” which the band dedicated to “all those, who didn’t make it this year”. One could have thought that he sang his soul out, yet he was about to prove us wrong. “She Left in Silence” and the already mentioned “Mills of God”, two darker and very doomy songs climatically led up to the ultimate highlight of the performance, the last two songs “Hero of the Weak” and finally “Aeon of Darkness”. And this undoubtedly was the definite culmination, a pinnacle of unparalleled emotion and passion.
Nevertheless Arkadius’ vocals wouldn’t have been the same, if hadn’t had the unswerving support of both drummer Cazy and bass player Marcus Grabowski who created the vital foundation for the whole gig. They felt driving and sensitive at the same time, forceful and gentle. When talking about Wheel one can’t leave out Benjamin Homberger, whose sublime guitar playing makes it difficult to believe that he is the only guitar player on stage. His powerful riffs are contrasted by placid passages and peak in extremely emotional solos and unbelievably beautiful melodies – please listen to the chorus of “Icarus”!
André said that for him Wheel with this performance outstripped doom legends Candlemass and I must agree with him. After the show it felt as if I was taking my first breath after having held it throughout the whole show. Thank you!
- At Night They Came upon Us
- When the Shadow Takes You Over
- After All
- She Left in Silcence
- Mills of God
- Hero of the Weak
- Aeon of Darkness