True epic doom of the highest order on their first studio album in eight years, “Preserved in Time”. Germany’s WHEEL delivers seven songs of emotional top European doom. The new album title was inspired by the idea that time is a vessel, and all that happened is preserved as long as someone remembers. Beware of this band because they are the real deal.
Hi Ben, your long awaited third album is finally coming! But first, what happened in the middle, why that with your former album Icarus?
Ben: Hello and thanks getting in touch with us! First and foremost we took our time to fine-tune the songs and play them over and over to a point we were all sure about them. Furthermore there were a lot of real-life events happening such as parenthood for several band members or new daily jobs. We also lost our beloved rehearsal space hand had so get a new one… On the other hand, we believe that in times were the marked is flooded with new albums every day, it makes you stand out more when people wait for something longer and then it turned out good or even better in the end.
“Preserved In Time” is a great album that puts you among the best in doom metal of Europe. But for those who have never listened to Wheel, what album would you advise them to attack first?
Ben: I would definitely recommend our recent one. Best production and best songs from my point of view now. Then the first, so you get an idea where it all started.
The question is mandatory, with all those years in the middle, how has Wheel sound changed?
Ben: We focused more a red line through the songs. On “Icarus” we had some longer songs, with some 70is prog influences like “A Daughter’s Song”. This time the focus was more on the Metal in Doom, resulting in a heavier sound and straighter song writing.
You are compared with classic bands such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus or even “semigods” like Trouble or Saint Vitus… That talks much and well about you, doesn’t it?
Ben: Well, yeah I like all those bands and it feels cool. But on the other hand, for me younger bands like Warning, Pallbearer, Orodruin or Spiritus Mortis are equally or even more important as an influence.
Wheel was formed in 2006 in Dortmund, Germany by guitarist Benjamin Homberger. You have been able to maintain the core of that line-up. How important has been this for this new album?
Ben: We were three in the beginning: Arkadius (voc) and Marcus (bass) were part of the flock from scratch. We hassled with some second guitar players and a couple of drummers in the beginning but since we met Cazy as a drummer the line-up is stable as a 4 piece.
When did you start to compose this magnificent “Preserved In Time” and how was all the process till the end?
Ben: The oldest song is probably Deadalus, the counterpart die Icarus. That was written shortly after we finished our second album. Most of the times it goes like this: I write and record a demo at home with programmed drums as a basis, then we rehearse that and arrange it together until it feels round. Often we jam in the beginning of a rehearsal und turn on a little recorder to collect some riffs, which we may use later.
What are the lyrics about?
Ben: Mostly about real life things like Depression, Death, Misery, Afterlife and Love… all things gloomy and doomy.
I like the cover artwork with its enigmatic flow, kind of a progressive metal album, and I think it continues the tradition of the so good previous covers, but how do you read it?
Ben: Yes, we wanted to continue in that art nouveau tradition, because we feel, that it’s a nice alternative to those “classic” metal covers with skulls and sword wilding men on horses. I also like some those, but for Wheel, I wanted something different.
Old fans of the fan don’t need to discover the great vocalist that Arkadius Kurek is. I even think the guy could sing with any big band, don’t mean Wheel isn’t, but in terms of popularity or sales
Ben: Vocals are always a “love – hate” thing for most listeners, not only in the metal genre. If you don’t like the voice – you’ll probably never dig the band and music. He has a very distinguishable and unique style and some good technique. Also important is, that is has no strong annoying German accent while singing.
In fact, all the musicians in Wheel are great, how do you manage the egos inside the band?
Ben: We knew each other from our previous bands Avanitas (Arkadius and Marcus played there) and McDEATH (Ben plays there). We had lots of gigs together in the past and as in 2004 Avanitas split up and Ben temporarily left Mc DEATH – It was a logical step to try something new together. We are good friends now for a long time.
“Preserved in Time” shows a captivating epic doom with some moments of heavy stuff, intentional or you just play and voile!?
Ben: Yes, intentionally. We wanted to have a heavy Doom Metal record and no Hippie or so called “retro occult stuff”… whatsoever. In terms of sound, I showed our Sound Engineer Dennis the latest records of bands like Smoulder and Cirith Ungol. A powerful but not to sterile sound.
The album has only 7 songs. I say only because it’s the typical album you wish would never end although it’s a more than respectable 48 minutes long
Ben: I think it’s the perfect length for a record to keep you focused and you can listen to it easily in one session. Also it is important, that it fits on one LP.
Daedalus is my favorite song with that heavy doom sound and a fantastic solo by Benjamin Homberger. But which song you know for sure will be included in your gigs?
Ben: We’ll for sure try them all out sometime when gigs start again but “At night they came upon us” or “When the Shadow takes you over” are two of my favourites.
How are you doing with the pandemic and how has it affected your plans?
Like in every band: our planed gigs were cancelled or postponed. It also slowed the recording down, but luckily we finished the whole thing before the hard lockdown commenced. We also do not rehearse for a while now, because it is not allowed to meet more than one person from another household. It sucks for sure, but I use the time to prepare some new tunes at home.
If you traveled back in time, tell me what bands you would like to play with on a tour?
Ben: Tough question! …most likely Solitude Aeturnus, Trouble (with Eric Wagner) or Candlemas with Messiha, to name a few…
Wheel has taken speed and we will have more great stuff coming in the following years or you will put the band in the fridge again after some time?
Ben: We definitely do not want to take so much time for the next release! We won’t force it but the plan is to have a new record in 2-3 years.
Any chance to see Wheel touring around when covid allows it?
Ben: Most likely we’ll play weekend shows or festivals, because we all have families and day jobs. But if a good offer comes during school holidays… We’ll see!
Thank you very much for attention Ben and congrats for your big album. If you wish to add something…
Ben: Thanks again for reaching out to us! Response to this album is overwhelming already and it feels good to see that there is some interest in traditional Doom Metal! Hope to meet some of you maniacs in a venue near you soon! Cheers!