Dreamwheel are a new project that features Evan Linger (Skeletonwitch/Cultist) on guitars/bass/piano/synth and Julia Gaeta (Madrigal/Albez Duz/Restless Ghosts/Light Of The Morning Star) on vocals. This, their first proper release also sees James Stewart providing assistance on drums and Tom Zwanzger contributing additional percussion and noises.
Redeemer follows two tracks they put out in 2021 Wild Days and Chain Of Fear both of which were compiled onto cassette last year as well as being featured here. For me, metal musicians have always had the broadest of minds when it comes to music and a demonstrable willingness to experiment, anyone who has watched the Amoeba Records What’s In My Bag series will be able to testify to this fact (see the Dave Lombardo, Tom Hunting, Black Cobra and Neige from Alcest episodes in particular).
The EP’s art as handled by Nyle Rosenbaum gives you an indication of the project’s lighter musical intonations as well as outright sultriness, not common features found in the extreme metal scenes but those which make me curious and excited nonetheless.
Redeemer features a heavy amount of jangle-pop guitar as if lifted straight from the Johnny Marr (The Smiths) songbook, though thankfully we are spared Morrissey’s vocals (can you tell I’m not a fan?) in place of something far more subtle and tasteful. Unlike latter day goth rock which quickly got mired in bats, crumpled velvet shirts and melodramatic claptrap, Dreamwheel instead utilise the best the genre had to offer with omnipresent darkness and a driving propulsive beat, a great way to open the EP.
Chain Of Fear tones down the Indie inflexions though doesn’t completely abandon Manchester altogether, adopting sounds more akin to Joy Division, New Order and perhaps even a little Chameleons thrown into the mix. There is an anthemic quality present as well as a liberal amount of melody which will delight fans of ‘80s new-wave and college rock (such as myself), fantastic. Promised Land is a slower brooding number with ethereal-wave/dream-pop vibes reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins and a chorus that is a sure-fire earworm. As much as I love the aforementioned genres, it can sometimes lose its focus what with its insistence on sounding as oblique as possible, there is no danger of that happening here.
ethereal-wave/dream-pop vibes reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins…
Bayou Rouge immediately reminded me of Siouxsie and The Banshees, especially the chiming Hong Kong Garden. The longest track on the album at over six minutes, the Banshees are all over this and the vocals are just as expressive and iconic as those provided by Sioux herself. Despite its length and more progressive/psychedelic tendencies, there isn’t a single second wasted on this epic track.
Wild Days seems to adopt an early ‘80s death rock sound if it was filtered through the paisley underground ala The Dream Syndicate and Opal. There is also a dusty, desert style which also reminds one of groups such as True West and Yawning Man, it’s a really very well composed track that concludes the album on an expansive and panoramic note.
If you are a fan of the band member’s day jobs, especially Evan Linger, then you may not fully embrace or appreciate what Dreamwheel are trying to achieve with Redeemer. I am certain that there will be Skeletonwitch fans scratching their heads at the music offered here, maybe even decrying ‘sell-out’ such is its potentially divisive nature. I would therefore extend an appeal to this hardcore metalhead contingent to at least give the release a shot as to quote Faith No More ‘you might surprise yourself’. A thoroughly enjoyable debut and I look forward to hearing/reviewing future efforts.
Scribed by: Reza Mills