"some music was meant to stay underground..."

The Wheel - "The Wheel" (CD)

The Wheel - "The Wheel" CD cover image

"The Wheel" track listing:

1. Stand Up!
2. Into The Water
3. Love
4. Tellin' No Lies
5. Sparks
6. Lost Soul
7. Comin' On
8. Walk On Out
9. Cry Of The Night
10. All This Time

Reviewed by on September 12, 2011

"If you're looking for some happy hard rock in the late-1970s mold, give The Wheel a spin."

One of the greatest things Van Halen brought to metal — besides Eddie's insane guitar skills — was an unabashed sense of fun. Where Sabbath moped and wailed about Satan, Zeppelin shrieked about myths and Mordor and AC/DC added a tinge of darkness to its booze and broads tunes, David Lee Roth was all about girls and good times. This was metal with a smile.

The Norwegian rockers in The Wheel recapture that feeling on the band's self-titled debut disc. With vocals reminiscent of Sammy Hagar and Chris Cornell, and guitars that contain echoes of both Eddie Van Halen and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, it's hard to see how you could go wrong here.

"Into The Water," for example, is a prime slice of good-time rock about the simple pleasures of hitting the beach, with the recognition of summer's "sunny days gettin' shorter." It feels like it could've been lifted right off "5150," and that's not a bad thing. Those looking for a little more blues will love the Zeppelin-style slide-guitar-and-scream of "Love." There's even a love ballad, "Sparks" (with shades of "Layla" in the riff) that'll have you singing along with the chorus in spite of (or maybe because of) its corniness.

Sure, there are a couple speed bumps, including the overly serious "Cry On The Night" and the somewhat ponderous "All This Time." Given that they're the last two tracks, it's pretty easy to avoid them.

If you're looking for some happy hard rock in the late-1970s mold, give The Wheel a spin. It's well-played, catchy, fist-pumping fun in the Van Halen mode, and you can't go wrong with that.

Highs: "Into The Water," "Love" and "Sparks"

Lows: "All This Time" and "Cry On The Night"

Bottom line: A mostly excellent slice of Van Halen-style metal.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)