Wheel of Smoke
(Signs of Saturn)
Psychedelic rock, Stoner rock
Samara Blues Experiment, Pelican, Black Mountain
Wheel of Smoke are a 5-piece Psychedelic, Stoner rock band from Belgium and their second album, Signs of Saturn is a pleasant surprise. Whether you like the progressive side of Mastodon, the blues exploration of Samara Blues Experiment than these guys are right up your alley. The fact that this album is self-released with no label makes them intriguing. There’s absolutely no bullshit here folks, they have the freedom to explore and take chances and they are better off for it. The music is not tied directly into one genre; they somehow naturally weave through aspects of stoner rock, psychedelics, prog-rock and some spacious blues.
Signs of Saturn are five songs running a total of 45:25 and the first cut "Sahara" is the perfect opener, setting the tone for the rest of the album. This song flows very well between progressive and psychedelic rock. The break-downs are very well done while the horn arrangements and the synth work are all wonderful additions, giving them a sound they can call their own. The vocals are very impressive throughout, which can make or break a band like this. They somewhat resemble a mellower Mastodon on the heavier parts and are also varied, with multiple singers at times. Moving onto "Serpent," this instrumental is tight and more on the psychedelic side. The guitar and percussion are very gently played; there is a sense of comfort for the first half. This track builds slowly into a progressive styled jam than carried to end with a flute. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
"Sands," the albums third track has some very impressive chilled vocals, reminiscent to Sungrazer. The music follows suit and just drifts on, ever slowly building, it leaves you intrigued and wondering where are they going. The 11:25 "Salvation" actually introduces us to a bit of sludge, so crank this one up. The vocals have a Kirk Windstein of Crowbar feel, fitting the music perfectly. As the song progresses they continue on this Pelican-like jam, it’s heavy and melodic at the same time. The last song "Song of Saturn" is beautifully epic. We must take pause and notice that every song begins with the letter "S," not sure if it means anything, but it’s worth noting. Now back to this song as it has harmonized vocals and its catchy stoner rock rhythm will leave you pleased to know end. By this point you’ll be glad you read this review and proud to share this album with your friends, or share within your Facebook stoner rock groups. At the 8:11 mark of this song they take a brief five second pause, thinking that it has ended, you be pleased to know they come back for more… we’ll just leave it at that, you can explore for yourself.
Wheel of Smoke has delivered an album that hopefully will not be overlooked. Perhaps they can pick up steam from and gain momentum through word of mouth and their touring; the talent here is too good not to get noticed. Fans of psychedelic, stoner and progressive rock will be delighted when they discover them. Our staff is glad we can be here to support and spread the word… because in the end albums like this need to be a mainstay in your heavy rotation. - 7/11/2014
Standout Tracks: Sahara, Sands, Salvation