Reviews on
HIGH WHEEL "Live before the storm"

"While I’m new to the house of High Wheel, it appears they have a couple vacancies. I thought what
better place to start my residency than Progress Records’ two volume collection of live material.
From the opening notes of “Open Lines”, there was no question where to classify this semiprecious
stone. I’d bury this burnished pebble smack dab in the middle of a progressively rock-laden field.
They employ a hybrid of diamond-cutting techniques and profit from the useful toolkits provided by
many of the genres top geologist. Their versatile drill-bits, various doodads and dremels consist of bands such as Magic Pie, The Flower Kings, Frogg Café, and Kansas. Likewise, it has the sparkly appeal of Kino, Arena, and Jadis. For that reason, this band would be an ideal act for the galleries on display from Rites of Spring to ProgDay.

That aside, their performance on this night in Neuhaus was frankly above reproach. So much that these ears couldn’t tell if this were on-the-fly or pre-recorded, and not at any time did their energy abate. Every song was as long and winding as a remote country road, a rural path, or Route 66. Literally, each item on exhibitwas an epic, which meant their curators intended to give us the hard sell. It’s easy to see why a client would procure this liberal bill of goods. As I always enjoy an extended stay in the presence of what’s creative and precious, I was obliged to acquire the art and invoice every single item.

Six songs were all it took to top off volume one, and the same amount brought the subsequent cup to the brim. Altogether, the carafe was generously poured and in turn, it overflowed past the perimeter of the saucer.Whether it’s hot cocoa, mocha, or a latte, let’s slurp the foam from the first disc while it’s still warm and fuzzy:

Open Lines – It’s obvious why they nominated this number to inaugurate the gala. It uses many renowned elements among the nouveau progressive niche. This one in particular incorporates Transatlantic. As an added bonus, it includes a shot of espresso and a boost of Rush. The players merge well, but it’s the guitarist who stands out in the slush. He also has some very endearing moments in his unpretentious acceptance speech. The keys, however, aren’t as humble. This supercilious accessory dominates the stage with handsprings, a brisk swing, a twirl of its t-shirt, and a dip. With all these wild and crazy moves, the keyboardist comes too close for comfort. As the melodies smash, he nearly causes a collision on the dance floor. Surprisingly enough, this earns my applause and a laugh, and it keeps the others on their feet with an unremitting degree of conviction. Moreover,
the singing is tremendous and the bass is bloody awesome too. After reeling us into the boat forthwith against our wishes, they take us away with a powerful finish. The endgame is in the vein of Pallas followed by some painfully-sparse clapping. Honestly, they deserved more, and if I were in attendance, I would have let them know it. For the sake of a recording, it’s both a blessing and a marvel that the crowd remained so still and silent. Reading the chicken scratches in the enclosure, it seems that they used this to kick off the official studio release as well. In addition, it’s the catalyst used to commence many of their concerts. Despite the inevitable consequence to the dolphins and the fish, we are thankfully relieved with this one in the bucket.

Void – This is more ominous and penetrating than the pilot. The despondent guitars and the glum drums are offset by a terrifically exuberant set of keys. They’re also stabilized by a bass that radiates with a great deal of glee. The singer embodies RPWL’s Yogi Lang while instrumentally it’s more in tune with an onslaught of Ayreon guitars. This bird can hover even though its wings are partially cut. It might be the same mass as the last, but it gropes for more gravity. It’s flash-frozen and fresh, and in accordance with the statute, the band continues to amaze me. When the music picks up, they’ve drawn me in as if I was shards of iron and they were an industrial magnet. If you’re a gullible bee like me, you’ll be devoured as expeditiously as a Venus flytrap dines on a flea or abducted as fast as it takes a greedy Martian to attune its tractor beam. At any rate, the mouse trap will be set and snapped without delay. When the song is done, the ovation overcomes inertia. A member from the band speaks and it’s obvious this is fronted by a foreign class of workers. By no means is this lesser than the first. While adjacent, this star is far-off in the distance. If measured by an astrophysicist, it might be light-years away, but nevertheless it holds the same intrinsic girth.

The Screamer – This is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon synchronized with the The Never-ending Story. In this fable, I’m talking about Atreyu the hunter and not the heavy metal hardcore band. As a group, you can almost hear Gentle Giant in one particular syncopated strand of singing. This fertile plant is perpetually sprayed in a madrigal mist and humidified inside a hydroponic hothouse. Since the hydrangeas and hyacinths are parched and in need of moisture, they drink from the fountains of Spock’s Beard’s “The Water”. When the sower showers the crowd with his demonstrative seed, it’s almost as if he is doing an unscripted celebrity impersonation. His speaking pattern and tone has the uncanny likeness to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Gear Wheels – Every time I encounter this track, I envision Echolyn’s “Georgia Pines”. These woody mammoths stand staunchly in the sky. As a general rule, the song sways to the beat of “The End is Beautiful”. Correspondingly, the bass bubbles with the attitude of an active geyser. Keep your hands free cause I’m sure it’s scalding to the touch. It’s enough to make coffee beans brew and a bag of tea leaves steep.

Gnihton’s Promise – Something tells me they are not talking about the father of physics or a delectable treat. Then again, I would wholeheartedly agree with the following affirmation. It’s a given that the music here is as enchanting as the Upper Peninsula’s infamous cherry pie. As Ricky Bobby says, I can’t see well with that sticker on the windshield, but I sure do enjoy this oddly-shaped cookie. I second that motion since it’s more than palatable. It also counts in its favor that it’s unusually soft and chewy.

There – Under the canvas, there is a progressive carnival going on in here. Within this tent, they have acrobats on a highwire, a horde of elephants, and a ringleader. After the tickets are torn and the acts appear, you’ll cheer and sing danke schön along with the clowns. On this side of the arena, they end with an epic that lasts in excess of 26 minutes. It’s as out there as Robby the Robot on the Forbidden Planet. Plus, this capsule is lost and drifting nowhere fast into the IQ quadrant of space. As they traverse this sprawling region, they’re just nigh of the Violet District. After that, this odyssey crosses through alien precincts and enemy turf. Once they elude the Reevers, Wayne Newton joins C3PO in the escape pod. The passengers’ hub is about as snug as the digs used by the Dr. Zarkov and the dreamy Jeannie. Although we’ve found safe haven at the station and reached a destination, we’ve only accounted for one half of the itinerary.

While we’re at it, let’s tip the kettle once more and have a second sip from the decanter:
Outside the Circles – The first is better than the second, but this disc boasts a slightly different feel. As we enter into the colder season, this set of ditties rolls out with several inventive features. For starters, it flaunts a customized tread with a radically savvy pattern. With these newfangled wheels installed, this song sloshes around in Mastermind’s mud and off-roads in oodles of quirky quandaries. For a time, it’s playful. Afterwards, it slips through the brush, jumps the soft shoulder, and then slaps the familiar asphalt. In doing so, its rubber rakes the tar and grips Tiles’ gravel.

Try an Error – Deploying the parking brake whilst keeping their pimped ride askew, this review will let loose and take advantage of friction. As each track shares a commonality, there is no need to be redundant. As with requires attention is its rosy coat. Whether parading as Kitty or 'Jinx' Johnson, this berry is acrid and tart. So give it a second to acclimate itself with the weather, purr or warm up.

High Wheel in the Sky (Part I) – If there is a sequel to this piece, I want to hear it. However, these high heels are downgraded to pumps. We’ll have to wait for Al Bundy to service our extremities at a later visit. For now, this is the only dialogue on the agenda. On the bright side, this is a worthwhile venture even if its siblings are absent, and I’ll let you in on a secret. One fellow listener told me this was his favorite. It paints with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. There is also a hint of those crazy cats called The Fabulous Thunderbirds. It’s progressively funky and breezy. This cocktail incorporates a twisty straw, an umbrella, and a triple sec of calypso. Don’t take my word for it. Sit right back and hear this tale from Gilligan’s Island on your own.

The Four Reasons – This is as happy as a future rider searching for and finding that rare, sacred egg. The yarn it weaves is done in a manner comparable to the irrational ramblings of Blackwolf the Dragonmaster. As a result,
the account is equally unbelievable and carefree as a rant from the self-proclaimed Unofficial Wizard of New York City. The trek it takes between the boroughs is mystically calm, sometimes bordering on quiet. Just as a sloth inspires an idle slug, it’s guzzled from a flask and swallowed with a glug. To lead the beautiful and medieval people, there is a passage on a flute that plays the part of our hero. In this parable, it panders for the role of Ian Anderson from Jethro Tell.

Into Voyage – This might be the song I cherish most due to how it builds, the energy, and its highly-polished nature. Not only is this precious gem unlike the others, but it’s shinier than the rest. This goes to show their potential and in doing so, they generate plenty of kinetic energy. This late in the game, they continue to fuel my level of interest. It’s one of the faster pieces, but it’s not all technical prowess and bravado that ignites my inner soul. It’s mainly that it modulates from insanely quick to almost graceful tiptoeing. This song is constructed like a precise device or an expertly-aged wine. While it’s drunk early on, the cork isn’t popped until the end. How do they do it? However they do, “That’s incredible!”

Hate Hounds – As mysterious as the mutts from Baskerville can be; my acquiescence with this article is
elementary. The purplish vibe is back. One would think Glenn Hughes is singing and playing the bass.
Conversely, the keys are as thick as a concrete milkshake. The guitars are flush and follow suite as if they were duty-bound to Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs. This is straightforward rock with syrupy keys and a fudge ripple of drums. These creamy rhythms would be hell to a candy addict trying to quit or a choco-holic who has run out of his confection. For everyone else, this nutty bar is ensconced in heaven. From the onset to the finish, they have consistently pressed on in a devoted vogue of fashion. When they hit the final note, it feels as if it shouldn’t end there. Ironically, this is after two whole discs of delightfully emotive riffs.

Not much else could be said on the topic as I believe I’ve pretty much covered everything that’s been recorded on the docket. At this point, you can acquire a copy of your own or naively choose to change the channel. Just remember, you are getting a signal from a rarely-mentioned source and without your support, you might not hear mention of them again. If that happens, that would be unfortunate. Like Firefly and Sports Night, they are worthy of a better than average Nielson Rating. While I may not have the authority or even a say, I’d be interested in seeing future works from High Wheel. As for now, this concludes the scheduled program."
Rating: 8.5/10


"In short, "Live Before The Storm" are a must for... uhm... everyone!"

"To be honest I am not really fond of live-albums, you may only have a higher value if you get music, other than on the studio albums, or if the quality of the recording is so good, that it gives you a nice overview of the discography of the band. And the latter is certainly here the case for the latest album of German High Wheel, their complex music does not leave much room for experimenting and is already difficult enough as well for the musicians as for the public.

As already told, the guys have made for this opportunity a selection from their 4 studio albums, with especially a lot of epics. The concert starts with "Open Lines" from ‘Remember the colours’, where because of the typical close harmony vocals the link with Gentle Giant seems obvious. High Wheel is clearly a progressive rock band, a modern version of their great examples Yes and Genesis of the seventies. Now and then it becomes a bit heavier, like for example on "The Void", but the melody always perfectly fits with the complexity of the track, which is not so evident. "The Screamer" sounds better than ever, a mix of King Crimson and Gentle Giant. The quality of the recording is superb, you can hardly hear it’s live. The first part of the concert is concluded with "There" (almost half an hour of music), impossible to describe what you may experience in such a track, I can only advice to see these guys once live, or you may naturally also buy this album.
And don’t forget, there is a second CD naturally, of the same quality of the first one. "Outside the circles" is an epic, navigating between Yes and Gentle Giant. And yet their music sounds very original, despite the inevitable influences from the past. The 4 musicians are demonstrating during the entire concert their technical abilities, melodic guitar solos, heavy rhythm section (with a short drum solo in 'Try an error'), Jethro Tull like flute intermezzos, in a nutshell the ideal cocktail for some heavy progressive rock. Some people might have some reserves with the lead vocals, but I think the voice of Hierl perfectly suits this kind of music. And for those who know a bit of German will appreciate his nice comments between the songs.

High Wheel is probably better as live act than on a studio album, if you don’t have any album of this band, you can easily start with 'Live before the storm', and then you maybe want to check their previous works, because they will be remastered in 2007.
Again a good effort of the Swedish label Progress Records."
RATING: 9/10

"An excellent recording and a fine repertoire to show. The track list includes stuff taken from all the four studio albums. A must-have for the High Wheel fans, a wonderful and complete introduction to their music for those who don't know them yet. Recommended!"
RATING: 85/100

"Live Before the Storm is the brand new, sprawling, 2 CD live set from High Wheel, and it's epic in every way, shape, and form. With over two hours of music spread out over two CD's, Live Before the Storm sees High Wheel in their element, on stage at the Kant'n Club, (which no longer exists) recorded March 2005. Many of the band's most memorable and bombastic songs were played that evening, and no less than 7 of the CD's 12 songs exceed the ten-minute mark, so expect plenty of musical fireworks throughout this set. The line-up here is Wolfgang Hierl (guitar, flute, vocals), Uli Jenne (drums), Erich Kogler (bass, taurus pedal, keyboards, vocals), and Andreas Lobinger (keyboards, vocals), and together they gave the audience their all, turning in a very powerful performance.

Highlights are many, but I'd have to pick tunes like the Hammond driven rocker "High Wheel In The Sky Part 1", the lengthy prog rock opuses "Outside The Circles", "Open Lines", and "There", in addition to the complex yet melodic "The Screamer". Hierl lays down plenty of crunchy riffs and tasty, melodic solos, and the keyboard tones from Lobinger just scream the 70's. The rhythm section of Kogler & Jenne also do a fine job, and Kogler especially drops in tons of slippery, almost jazz-styled fills throughout the album, in addition to blasting the terrain with Taurus bass pedals. Another challenging piece that is not to be missed is the intricate "The Four Reasons", a song that features tremendous guitar & keyboard interplay and rich vocal harmonies, plus wah-wah guitar licks, and some etheral Genesis-sounding flute.

I've you've yet to experience High Wheel, or perhaps not been blown away by their studio output, give Live Before the Storm a chance. It stands a good chance of being one of the best live prog albums you have heard in a while, and should be a strong seller for Progress Records."
RATING: 4,5 of 5

"The best neo-progressive band in the world is named High Wheel, and comes from Germany(!) and here with delivers a double live album as their fifth release, after their outstanding "There" and "Back from the void".
Everything this sensational quartet touches becomes gold - also regarding their concerts. Not only is Wolfgang Hierl a world class composer, High Wheel already from the start managed to creat a unique expression where the characteristic chord changes and melodies are their signum.
"Live before the storm" is performed in front of a small but enchanted audience. The sound is good and the music awesome. The germans have no problems with delivering the more complicated parts on stage, and to sing while playing contrapartic instrumentation is an achievment - especially as the harmony vocals interplay both metrically and tonally. If this band is not known to you yet you must get yourself this album as well as "Back from the void", as these both are available in Norway."

"I warmly recommend this live double album to all those which dare to discover groups other than clones of the 70's dinosaurs. High Wheel symbolizes modernity of progressive rock. Hats off!"
RATING: 8/10

"Let me start by saying: WHOAaa !! Once again the great Swedish Progress Record label has released a winner! This time its High wheel (until now, unknown to me) with 4 studio albums to their name. This double live outing are really an example of how talented these 4 musicians are!
With a set of songs culled from their former studio albums, they prove to be strong songwriters as well as fine musicians, they deliver superb performance both instrumental and vocal wise, so much so that i really have to get hold of their studio albums (hint hint, nudge nudge) which according to the newsletter, are to be remastered and re-released sometime in spring 2007! I cant wait!!

Now i know that many of the “new” proggroups are derivative someway or other, but i really think that these guys have something special. Spread across 2 cd´s you get superb music, like the epic: “There” clocking in at 26:40 min. with towering guitars and keys and fine singing (in English) but also mellow interval moments, great stuff!!
But also intro song: “ Open Lines” with the throbbing opening riff, has some quite relaxed theme´s with flute and soothing voice and keys. Wolfgang Hierl (Vocals, guitars and flute) are a strong asset, with his comanding voice and superb guitaring. Andreas Lobinger (Keyboards and vocals) also delivers the goods, with some mighty keyplays in a great “oldschool” way. Erich Kogler (Bass, vocals, taurus-pedals) and Uli Jenne (Drums) shines as the powerful and solid base of the constructions.
Let me also mention a few items on cd 2. Starting of with another epic track: “Outside the Circles”ringing in at some 18:57 min. again an excellent track with plenty of breaks and time signatures, for all you progheads to enjoy! Actually, cd 2 holds no less than 4 tracks that clocks in at (and abowe) the 11 minute mark! And believe you me, when i tell you that this album are masterclass!! If you are new to them (like i was) this is a must own!
If these guys can deliver the goods (this great) live, then i for one, cannot wait to hear their studio albums! So what do i think?! Well...go down to your pawnshop. Sell your guitar (yes, the one you never got to play on) or your leather chair (the one, your mother-in-law proudly gave you at your wedding!) for this album are just superb and one you should definitely have in your prog collection!!

Whats that? Your wife wont understand?! Well buy her the shoes (she just long to own)...that leather chair can certainly bring in, a small fortune! In doubt? Then just listen to: “The Four Reasons” on cd 2 track # 4....isnt that just GREAT? I told you so! High Wheel, are superb and a big thanks to Progress Records for yet another gem! Im amazed (again) how do you do it, you guys at Progress Records??! AMAZING!!!!"
RATING: 5 planets

"The concert begins with the powerful epic "Open Lines" from the album "Remember The Colours" from 1994, a mixture of energetic progressive and melodies reminding of Genesis. This is followed by two titles from their latest opus "Back from the void", the heavy "Void" and the more melodic "The Screamer", sometimes tortured in King Crimson. The first impression is that all these pieces improved with time. The group is also proven a very powerful live band. . And let us not forget either the long epic song "There", from the album of the same name, which finishes the first disc in an exceptional way. Extacy! On the second CD, one will find two titles from their very first opus "1910", released in 1993. "Outside The Circles" and "High Wheel In The Sky (Part I)". The first reveals large Yes influences. The least which one can say it is that in spite of its thirteen years this title has not aged, it even improved. Scenic energy is undoubtedly there for a reason. The concert ends with two extracts from "There" where we get "Into Voyage" and "Hate Hounds".
The first is instrumental which had been written for their first opus but had not been retained. It reveals a The Wall like Pink Floyd feeling during the softer passages and planing but nevertheless tended while the solo of the guitarist goes completely lunatic and is more typified hard rock.

"In short, this double live is an excellent means of discovering a very good progresseive rock group before leaning on their studio albums which will be remastered in spring 2007. As for those who already have discovered them, let us guarantee that they will not want to miss these more than two hours of live happiness."
Score: 4 STARS

"Actually I´ve never been a great fan of the bavarian group High Wheel. Now I have their actual live album in my CD player and have to change my opinion. Meanwhile maybe my taste has changed ´cause I didn´t listen to their albums for a while.

High Wheel stands for complex progrock. Their have their own style, although there are influences of bands like Gentle Giant, Yes or King Crimson. Disharmonic chord changes as well as melodic parts, where the flute takes lead now and then form their repertoire.

High Wheel exist on the typical musician´s formula. Gathered round bandleader, main songwriter, guitarist, fluteist and singer Wolfgang Hierl are bassplayer and second singer Erich Kogler, drummer Uli Jenne as well as keyboarder and third singer Andreas Lobinger. One of the band´s special brands are the 2 and 3 voice harmony vocals with typical teutonic taste. But this is not annoying, it adds this very special charme.

Their musical skills are top level. The set list contains songs of all 4 former released studio albums. No album is in advantage of the other.

A positive thing for me is the fact that a lot of my favourites found place on the album. Songs like THE SCREAMER, VOID, INTO VOYAGE as well as epic OUTSIDE THE CIRCLES and THERE are presented in a great way. Wolfgang Hierl´s speeches are very sympathic, `though he reminds me of Michael “Bully” Herbig (a german comedian). Sorry for comparing, but I think this is funny somehow.

So: LIVE BEFORE THE STORM is a great retrospective of the four lads from Bavaria. Recommended for beginners. Progpurists as well as fans of the harder style might also find a home. And the album is the first outside-scandinavian release of swedish label PROGRESS RECORDS. The 4 studio albums will be re-released and remastered in the following months."
RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)


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