Wheel of Smoke

Album Title: 
Rings of Saturn
Release Date: 
Friday, January 3, 2014
Review Type: 

A couple of years ago, I gave the band’s debut In Sense a big thumbs up, primarly for the way they managed to bring so many different influences together for a veritable progressive rock smorgasbord. Everything from Opeth, King Crimson, Agalloch, Ozric Tentacles and Comus. 

Their second opus Signs of Saturn is again a great rock album on which on one side you can hear the influences of some great names from the prog world and on the other side an unique and significant style. The first track “Sahara” opens quite roughly and via a galloping riff rock introduction that leads to a wonderful Rhodes/horn middle part to finish fast again with a short furious guitarsolo. The only true instrumental on Signs of Saturn is the melodic laid-back “Serpent” though one has to admit that the lengthy pieces of the album are full of instrumental sections. The album only features 5 tracks but still clocks 45 minutes, mainly due to the lengthy last three pieces.  The first “Sands” is an absolutely enchanting piece with a long chanting piece.. “Salvation” and “Song of saturn” includes some of the most aggressive playing on the album (bordering both on Opeth and Agalloch territory) although aggressive is not a word I would use freely when describing Wheel Of Smoke. Singer Tristan may not be everyone’s taste, tending towards the growling register, and not always pulling the melodies with total aplomb. There are plenty of riffing guitars for the metal lovers, but equally audible are the lush layers of nice oriental guitar melodies which give a very soothing feel to this album. The compositions aren’t especially complex and a bit of editing here and there (perhaps curtailing some of the freeform singing at the end) would have increased the impact in my opinion, but you can listen to it again and again, without tiring of it. Each song sounds different and original. It’s not really prog or metal but it possesses a lot of the required characteristics that will attract lovers of both.