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TRACK LIST: 1. Try an Error 5:02 The Screamer (2 to 4): 2. Before the Raid 2:32 3. Blasted by Screams 4:02 4. Silent Room 5:48 5. Sleepless 6:06 6. Void 5:43 7. Dark 3:21 Blind Archer (9 to 17): 8. On the Archer's Hill 2:24 9. Harvest 6:16 10. Twisted 1:50 11. Intersphere 3:51 12. Man in the Cloud 2:23 13. Globes 1:44 14. Strings 3:02 15. Arrows 3:57 16. Hall of Fame 4:23 17. Archer 2:08 All music & lyrics: by Hierl, except: 7: lyrics by Kogler, 13: music by Lobinger & Hierl. LINE-UP: Wolfgang Hierl - vocals; guitars; synthesizers; flutes Andreas Lobinger - organs & piano; vocals Erich Kogler - basses; vocals Uli Jenne - drums & percussion Produced by High Wheel & P Rixner. Engineered by P Rixner.
Prolusion. "Back from the Void" (2001) is the fourth album by the German quartet HIGH WHEEL and is a full-fledged concept album. Their website is still under construction, and there is nothing apart from the band's logo, some pictures, and a brief quotation from the album "There" (1996). "1910" (1993) is their debut, followed by "Remember the Colours" (1994).
Synopsis. Archetypes: Progressive Rock and Hard Rock. Benefactor: indeterminable. Creeds: Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. Dear readers (and you are listeners and free thinkers above all)! Don't turn a deaf ear to what I am going to tell you. After all, you are well aware that ears are a much more delicate instrument of the perception of information than the eyes, especially counting that many people prefer watching TV to reading books etc. Here to hear! So please just listen to me, and I believe you will hear me and, later, the hero of this review, too. Even if I am certain that I won't find enough words to describe all the magic and splendor that "Back from the Void" is filled with, I already believe this very sentence is informative enough to make you suitably curious about the album. There are no weak spots on any of the seventeen tracks here, including the only instrumental piece Globes (13), though, it would've been better if it was placed just before (or even within) Archer, the album's closing track featuring only symphonic passages of synthesizer and vocals. Dark (7) and Man in the Cloud (12) were also performed without the rhythm section and both are notable for solos of flute being at the helm along with passages of acoustic guitar and piano and those of string ensemble respectively. The latter is a piece of Classical music, while the first represents an acoustic symphonic Art-Rock. Both are characterized with a pronouncedly dramatic and, at the same time, very soulful, warm, just magical sound, as well as everything on the album. Symphonic Art-Rock is the most widespread component here, so I won't name the tracks where it is presented without any stylistic makeweights. The textures, typical for a progressive Cathedral Metal, are here and there on Silent Room, Harvest, Arrows, and Hall of Fame (4, 9, 15, & 16), and are almost everywhere on Try an Error, Void, and On the Archer's Hill (1, 6, & 8), being well intermixed with symphonic ones. In other words, the latter three represent a blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and Cathedral Metal. The music is unique, really fresh sounding and is amazingly both eclectic and beautiful. The songs have excellent English lyrics, and the lead and backing vocals are as amazingly original and impressive as the instrumental canvas. Only some of the three-voice chorals may resemble those in Queen, while most of the joint vocal parts I perceive like singing of the sad minstrels choir. The acoustic textures, built by the parts of classical guitar and, in a less degree, by those of piano and flute, are present almost everywhere on the album, being excellently intermixed with electric ones where the astonishing sounds (solos!) of Hammond organ are one of the main features. Starting with a genuine originality, this album possesses everything, which makes the best works of the seventies the eternal classics.
Conclusion. Of course, this review is inspired by the music of High Wheel. This is one of the very few wonderful bands still proving that Art-Rock isn't a 'dead' genre and that it is possible to create a true piece of art within that framework. Hats off to this brilliant quartet! "Back from the Void" is an album that most of the Titans would've been proud of. I declare it the album of the month (June), and I am sure that it will remain standing close to the top of my Top 20 for 2004. Thank you for keeping the flame of the genre alive High Wheel!
VM: June 21, 2004
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