Boy, there’s some wheeler-dealer stuff going on. We just heard some proggy news about Wheel from Finland, which didn’t quite make it onto our review pipe yet.
But suddenly, we get those doomy vibes from Germany. And indeed, we got ourselves yet another Wheel on the menu. One with that distinct early Doom Metal flavor. And they ain’t even coming from the US. And that’s almost heresy these days.
Do you know why I kinda stopped looking at Khemmis and – for sure – Pallbearer? They’re great musicians, sure. But somehow, they never quite hit the vibe of the good ol’ school of doom. And yes, I know. Both were hyperventilated to the highest levels of (imaginary) stardom. Yet, the former’s latest album didn’t connect with this crew, and the latter’s 2020 piece wasn’t really worth its salt.1) So, back to the dregs of the review pipe with them.
Instead here, we found Preserved in Time, the latest concoction of the aforementioned German doomsters from Wheel. Them boys from the Teutonic forests just hijacked my earphones with that mixture of Byron without the terrible growls and clears Pale Divine, and – yes – a goodly portion of Nevermore.2) Albeit, mostly a slow-motion version of it.
I believe I could namedrop this record to Andromeda and back, there are so many hints and similarities. In other words, Wheel with their cathedral sound3) here did surely not go for loads of innovation. Instead, Preserved in Time slams that slow-motion meaty doom sound about your head right from the start.
And that’s a good thing, by the way. Right from the start with At Night They Came Upon Us, you get that comfortable, slightly sludgy sound that will wheel ye down doom road. This one already injects interesting breaks – like the one at the 3-minute-mark – and a few forays into territories where Heavy Metal usually roars.
Of course, the excellent crystal clear vocals that Arkadius Kurek continually pushes at the audience do help things along. And he does that in a true old-school doom fashion. That’s pretty amazing from a guy whose roots rather reside in the thrashy and heavily metallic realms.
Now, I also appreciated that the bass pretty continually manifests itself with its distinct voice. Plus Benjamin Homberger and his tireless riffs and often truly sublime solos. His contribution truly is red meat to any doomster who’s into the old-style Doom Metal thing. And by that, I – again – mean the real thing, not the stuff pushed by modern-time wannabes.
Now, the varying stylish background truly shines on Preserved In Time. You get a lot of this slow-marching kinda sludgy Doom Metal. But sometimes – like on the aforementioned Byron record – you do feel the maiden traipsing about the backstage. And then, you get that killer fillet piece that comes in the form of Aeon of Darkness. That’s where the Evermore connection comes in, sandwiched between a few heavily metallic interludes thrown in for good measure.
In fact, PiT contains no major issues or filler events that we would need to bitch about. The fact that they recorded this piece in a more live-like setting gives the album a deliciously grimy and scratchy look and feel. And this is exactly what we look for in an old-style Doom Metal record.
If anything, there’s a certain tendency towards repetitions, with some tracks that feel a tad too close to each other. Yet again, this also provides this slowly grinding groove that will grip ya once you are in the sharp claws of Wheel.
Preserved in Time ultimately turned out to be that strong Doom Metal record that we never quite found in the past. Wheel applied just the right level of spice to sail through that pretty impressive, yet short tracklist of seven select songs. And the record does project this grimy groove that we always crave(d) and that
should must be part of those oldish doom offerings of times past. And that turns it into one of the prime cuts of doom records of 2021. So far, at least.
I just hope they won’t make us wait for yet another eight years or so for the next album.