Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM
Hot on the tails of blowing away the UK as support act to three huge tours Wolfgang Van Halen continues his meteoric raise to the ranks of must see / hear new rockstars.
The debut is one hell of an album to try and follow up and although the protege has once again decided to play all instruments and vocals he is not resting on his laurels as on Mammoth 2 he has decided to expand everything he done on that original and ramp up the annoyingly huge amount of talent and brilliance to create an even thicker and more expansive sound and musical tapestry.
The album is packed with 10 huge slices of rock and the album opens with a Seattle sounding “Right”. With obliterating drums, brutal bass and as always sublime guitars this is rock on a 90s tangent but is earworm of the most epic proportions.
“Like a Pastime” was the second single released and once again we have a new approach and sound as it borders on industrial with a recurring riff that will drill deep into your skull until it is rattling around your head for days after.
On “Another Celebration at the End of the World” you have the pounding drums once again and a real top lip snearing punk attitude with WVH’s vocals in total ascendency as is his guitaring as he really lets loose and already this album is shaping up to wipe the floor with the debut and a massive chunk of every rock release in 2023.
The guitars on the opening of “Miles Above Me” shake the speakers before settling into an incredible song that was made for the radio in any of the last four decades. Take me back to MTV’s heyday and I swear this would be on heavy rotation right next to Daddy and the quality of this song would mean this would be very difficult to pick between the two.
The rock is eased back in the opening of “Take a Bow” as once again this could be 80s but very close to the top of the pile electronic giants of that era. The sound is clear, the instruments smooth and the feel very much of yesteryear until the breakdown bursts into an anthemic stadium killer.
We have a real heavy and dark opening on “Optimist” with its regurgitative riffing and drums before it heads to the skies to soar as a crescendo of energy and musical domination. The production on these tracks is outstanding and even though I know it is a fact to think that one person is responsible for every sound, flick and vision behind these songs is unfathomable. I have listened to many guitar maestro albums and shut off as they get lost in their own visions to the point it becomes drivel to my ears but every instrument, every note is layered to perfection here.
On “I’m Alright” we take another detour to what sounds like a drive anthem with the punch of a souped up Mustang and the bite of a Ferrari. Like every other song WVH has written this track is instantly accessible and will appeal to lovers of many different genres and that is the mark of sheer quality.
Time to rock the hell out on “Erase Me”. That riff is hypnotic and the vocals are perfection. This hyperdrive of a song is stunning in its simplicity and its power. The man has studied what makes the guts of a rock song and he has extracted the essence of pure metallic gold.
Things are slowed down again on “Waiting” and again, the simplicity is genius, the clarity is profound. This sounds very folk influenced in its spine. It reminded me of bands like Idlewild, a sound that is taken from their countries history, their nations soul and Wolfgang has nailed that feel perfectly.
The final track once again veers off on a tangent and “Better than You” is jumping back to the 60s with an updated soul. This flirtation with The Beatles will have you either loving or hating the number but either way this is a man who has said I will not be defined, I will not bow to expectations and I will be me.
Mammoth 2 is an eclectic collection of musical cabaret that dips its toes into many different genre ponds and yet it does not sound for one minute like an ego saying I can do anything(Although at this point I probably need to admit…I think he can).
Individually we cannot ever contrive to understand the level of expectations on this mans shoulders but he wears that like a jacket of pride, he says believe what you want, expect what you want but I will achieve on my own merits, with my own talents and how the hell I want and all we can do is nod our heads doff our caps and just bathe in this young mans excellence.
Rock and Metal may not be dying but they were struggling to find the next giants to carry the torch as our elder legends bow out but WVH is not a torch, he is the biggest fucking bonfire you have seen in a very,very long time.
The track listing for Mammoth II is:
Like A Pastime
Another Celebration At The End Of The World
Miles Above Me
Take A Bow
Better Than You