"Wheels of Impermanence" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Canadian progressive metal act Heaven´s Cry. The album was released through Prosthetic Records in September 2012. It´s been 10 years since the release of the band´s second full-length studio album "Primal Power Addiction (2002)", but Heaven´s Cry were never an act to rush things. They haven´t been inactive though, as they´ve been busy with other projects. Most prominantly guitarist Éric Jarrin has also been a member of Canadian deathcore act Despised Icon since 2002.
Heaven´s Cry have always had a very unique sound and while "Wheels of Impermanence" is somewhat different to their first two albums, it´s still unmistakably the sound of Heaven´s Cry. One of the things that always made Heaven´s Cry stand out from the crowd, was the fact that the band featured three guitarists and that the use of keyboards in their music was sparse. The interplay between the three guitarists were highly original and provided the band´s music with a unique sound. To my initial horror, the band have opted for a more conventional lineup on "Wheels of Impermanence", with two guitarists (Pierre St. Jean sings lead vocals too), a drummer and a bassist. But not only that! The keyboards now have a more prominant role in the music (although still tastefully placed in the mix). This change in lineup and the more frequent use of keyboards in the music have quite a bit of impact on the final result.
While the music on "Wheels of Impermanence" is still highly intriguing and cleverly composed progressive metal, it´s slightly less sophisticated compared to the predecessors. That counts for both sound production and the actual compositions. Heaven´s Cry still produce very original sounding progressive metal, that requires more than a few listens to understand and appreciate though. It´s not that the tracks are overtly complex structured, and most are "regular" length tracks, but the detail level, and vocal melody lines that aren´t instantly memorable, are factors that´ll challenge most. It´s stylistic elements that are positive for the longivity of the album. Overall I sense that Heaven´s Cry have taken their music in a slightly heavier direction with more power chord riffing and heavy rythms too, but it´s only occasionally and "Wheels of Impermanence" is quite the varied album. Tracks like "Consequence" and the closing instrumental "A Glimpse of Hope" are examples of tracks that stand out.
The musicianship is, not surprisingly if you are familiar with the band´s earlier output, on a high level. Everything is delivered with tight precision but never in a clinical fashion. These guys are able to put a human touch to their music that is greatly enjoyable. Lead vocalist/guitarist Pierre St. Jean is a skilled vocalist, who can sings in a darker and more raw tone than most progressive metal vocalists. His vocals are often layered with harmony vocals that at times reek of Alice in Chains.
Upon conclusion I think I prefer the first two albums to "Wheels of Impermanence", but it´s still a welcome comeback and a great album in it´s own right. For fans of progressive metal who´d like their progressive metal to be a bit "different" (featuring a personal sound), I find the album highly recommendable. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.