Review | Wheel – Charismatic Leaders

Inside Out Music

Although I “own” a lot of albums and CDs and I know a lot – not meaning to brag here – about hard rock and metal music, I had never heard – sorry guys – of a band called Wheel. However, ‘Charismatic Leaders’ is already the third album of this Anglo-Finnish prog metal band. Wheel, by the way, consists of James Lascelles (vocals, guitars), Jussi Turunen (lead guitar) and Santeri Saksala (drums) The album is produced and engineered by Daniel Bergstrand and Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah).


After a couple of spins of ‘Charismatic Leaders’ I can truly state that the music of Wheel is rather unique, although fans of Metallica, Tool, Haken, Leprous, Opeth and even Porcupine Tree will “recognise” several musical elements. This third album of Wheel is a true metal album which you will get after listening to the amazing opening track ,,Empire”. A rather short heavy song packed with galloping guitar riffs and almost doom bass-laden elements. ,,Porcelain”, the latest single of the album, is up next and it is a 100% pure metal song; very intense and the drumming of Saksala sets the tone for this impressive track.


,,Submission” is the longest track of the album and clocks in near the eleven minute mark. It  is packed with strong melodies and lots of musical twists and turns. Definitely my favourite track of the album! By the way, did I already tell you to play this album LOUD? Just when you think it cannot get any heavier, you are in for a surprise. ,,Saboteur’’ is without a shadow of a doubt THE heaviest song on ‘Charismatic Leaders’. Check out the amazing riffage of Lascelles and Turunen here.

,,Disciple” is a short almost earwormy song featuring excellent vocals by Lascelles, while ,,Caught In The Afterglow” is an acoustic guitar interlude, being the intro for the last track called ,,The Freeze”. That one is also the second longest song of the album, clocking in just over ten minutes. This album closer is again a true musical highlight with lots of atmosphere, unforgettable melodies, and angular riffs galore.


‘Charismatic Leaders’ is a great record, and it needs repeated listening to find out the brilliance of this band. Especially Saksala’s drumming is almost second to none. Keep on eye out for Wheel, as this prog metal trio really surprised me with this formidable album. Listening tip: ,,Empire”.

Release date: 3 May 2024



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