WOLFMOTHER – Victorious

Wolfmother - VictoriousWhen Wolfmother’s self titled debut album came out in 2005 (in their native Australia) and 2006 (world-wide), it was an immediate smash hit. For a new band to sell 1,5 million copies of an album in a time when everybody and their mother had found out how to download music for free is quite an impressive achievement. The band started back in 2000 by singer, guitar player and sole songwriter Andrew Stockdale together with bass player / keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett, a line-up that was stable up until 2008. I remember pretty well when their debut came out as I had a bunch of friends who really dug that record, but no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get into it. Even today, I find that album only ok and not their finest moment which I have heard lots of people say about it. For me, things changed with the second one, 2009’s Cosmic Egg, this time with a new line-up and Stockdale as the only remaining member. Ian Peres was the new guy on bass and keyboards, the new drummer was Dave Atkins and Andrew had even hired a fourth guy, a rhythm guitar player named Aidan Nemeth. That was the album the got me hooked on Wolfmother and I still love that record to this day. After a few years, there was talk of new studio album, but once again there were line-up changes as drummer Atkins jumped the ship. In the eleventh hour, Stockdale decided that the new record, Keep Moving (2013) would not go under the Wolfmother moniker, but under his own name, making it his first solo album, probably much to the fact that the album is recorded by Stockdale, Peres and a whole bunch of different studio musicians and the band feel was probably missing. With that album (an I album I haven’t heard a note of) I thought – and many with me – that the Wolfmother story had come to an end. But in 2014, Stockdale decided to resurrect the band, again using Peres for bass and keyboard duties, but this time including drummer Vin Steele, who played on a few tracks on Stockdale’s solo album. New Crown was released in 2014, but by then, I had more or less forgot about the band – or maybe I just lost interest. Which leads us to the new record. To be honest, my interest-loss in the band did continue even with the release of this album, but there was something somewhere in me that became a bit curious any way. I mean, Cosmic Egg was a brilliant album, after all and really, how bad could this get?

But before we dig into the album, I must address the line-up changes that came along for this album as well. Peres is still in, but only as a keyboard player as Stocksdale decided to handle all the bass himself. Also, two drummers have been used here – Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, The Offspring, Guns N Roses) and Joey Waronker. The record opens up with “The Love That You Give”, a song that takes us right back to the early seventies with Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality (1971) or Volume 4 (1972) as the big influence. Stockdale even goes all Ozzy on us here and there in the track. But it’s a groovy little f**ker and I dig it like crazy! The title track is even more Sabbath and I can hear “Children Of The Grave” in the riffs. But the song changes in style right in the middle where an acoustic guitar plays the biggest part, only for it to go back to Sabbath, but this time “Paranoid” is borrowed before it goes back to the “Children Of The Grave” vibe again. But make no mistake, this is no rip-off, he just wears his influences a bit too visually on his sleeve. I love the song. Love it! “Baroness” kicks in with a big early 70’s feel that makes me think of Rival Sons, but it also have this big pop feel which brings some catchiness to the table – great stuff! “Pretty Peggy” takes a twist towards more straight pop with a really catchy and memorable vocal melody that sticks to the brain right off the bat. This – of course – must be a single. “City Lights” has the feel of a more pop sounding Led Zeppelin and the guitars have a Thin Lizzy like structure, which can never ever be a bad thing – very easy to love, that one. “Simple Life” have a big retro seventies groove, but is really just a straight ahead rocker, bang right on target – and they score! Great song. “Best Of A Bad Situation” is more classic rock, like late 60’s – I’m thinking stuff like The Faces or maybe Humble Pie – but with a catchy pop feel and a melody line that’s more contagious than the flu. “Gypsy Caravan” can very well be the best song on the entire album with its early Led Zeppelin meets Deep Purple meets the Rival Sons big, bad groove and infectious swing – a winner, to put things mildly. And the swing continues with the positive and well, happy actually, “Happy Face”. It’s really a pop song that has been given the hard rock make over – brilliant work. The closing track, the fantastic “Eye Of The Beholder”, is a melodic rock song, but Stockdale’s love for big 70’s rock gives the song some cool contrast and the Zeppelin and Sabbath influences shows up here as well. It is very memorable and I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear this on the radio in a not too distant future. An awesome way to end the album.

But of course, there’s also a deluxe edition with bonus tracks avaliable and for this album, I recommend you to get that version. “Remove Your Mask” goes back to the Black Sabbath Volume 4 vibe and this brilliant rocker is not to be missed. Same with “Wedding”. It’s a brilliant track that makes me think of a more melodic version of MC5 mixed with Cream. The distorted bass sounds really cool and the whole thing just kicks butt. You don’t wanna be without that one either. So there you go. I know many will probably beg to differ but to me – remember now that I haven’t heard Stockdale’s solo album or New Crown – this is Wolfmother’s best album to date. All the mentioned influences that I hear on this album have to be read with a pinch of salt as Wolfmother really have their own sound. It takes only seconds to recognize Stockdale’s very personal melodies and he have a voice that don’t sound like anyone else. I also love it that Brendan O’Brien’s production is somewhat smooth, but still with an edge and there is no shortage of dynamics anywhere. I want to believe that this album reaches out to all fans of rock music, but of course, if you have a weak spot for 70’s hard rock like the mentioned bands and even newer stuff like Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, The Answer, Black Country Communion and such, then this record is for you.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. The Love That You Give
2. Victorious
3. Baroness
4. Pretty Peggy
5. City Lights
6. Simple Life
7. Best Of A Bad Situation
8. Gypsy Caravan
9. Happy Face
10. Eye Of The Beholder
11. Remove Your Mask (bonus)
12. Wedding (bonus)

Advertisements