Wolfgang Van Halen is a guitarist. Wolfgang Van Halen is a singer. Wolfgang Van Halen is a Drummer. Wolfgang Van Halen is a bassist. Wolfgang Van Halen is Mammoth WVH. Every note from every instrument on his debut album is him.
Before I get into the reaction, I want to state the obvious…Yes, Wolfgang is Eddie Van Halen’s son. That’s not what this reaction is about. This is about a new album from a new and emerging star in the rock scene. From the two songs I had heard before I received this CD, it is Wolfgang’s sound and songwriting. It is not a VH clone.
(If this is your first time reading a Let’s Rock First Reaction, I should explain what it’s about. I sit with my trusty hound, Geddy, The Rock Dog, and type my reaction in real time as I listen to the album for the first time. Sometimes Geddy likes the tunes and stays with me, sometimes he runs away. We’ll see how he likes this one.)
I’ve been waiting a long time for this…Here we go.
- Mr. Ed
Nice riff right off the bat. It’s obvious right from the start that WVH is in for the songs. Everything sounds great on this cut. Good mix, good vocals…OOOOH, nice powerful chorus. This is great. Subtle layers added to the second verse and it seems to be getting a little heavier as it plows along. Bridge is good. I sense a solo coming…Here it is. Nicely done. Short and sweet, but the solo truly fits the song. Wolf knows what he’s doing. Great vocals at the end. Sweet. What a great start.
2. Horribly Right
Downtuned heaviness. Alice In Chains-y. I really like his voice. This is gonna be fun to see live. Hint hint…Come to Ottawa! Catchy chorus again. Sweet production. This is a beautifully structured tune. Sexy harmonics in the bridge. This dude knows how to write a song. It’s back to the simple, yet effective riff from the beginning. Power yell. YESSIR!!!
I am always amazed at musicians who can record all the instruments on an album. What a talent. There is definitely a 90s vibe to his songwriting. It’s nice that he’s not just trying to sound like his other band. Nice range on the vocals. Again, it’s all about the song, not showing off. Cool transition to the bridge. Pickin’ up…solo time? Ooh, cool break down. No solo, but I’ll forgive him this time.
4. Don’t Back Down
Ah, I know this one. Saw the video. Great vid by the way. Very grungy intro riff. The drums take centre stage on this one. “Everybody’s going crazy”. I have a feeling the rock community is going to be saying the same thing about this album. This is heavy as shit. It’s loud in here. Geddy just went under a blanket. Great drumming. Very cool off time chunky chunk. SWEET! I AM LOVING THIS!! There is so much confidence in his singing. Fucking killer ending. “Won’t be long until we’re dead and gone” Holy shit that was terrible. (watch the end of the video for the reference)
Acoustic. Change of pace. The drums seem especially creative. I wonder what his main instrument is. He’s pretty good at all of them. Little lead break…ooooh, very tasty. I could see this being a single. It has something for everyone. Kind of a ballad with a big set of balls on it. Great guitar sound and another solo. There’s a new guitar hero on the scene, and his name is Van Halen…That sounds strange. All the solos so far have been perfectly suited for each song. Kind of like another VH player. That’s not my favourite so far, but it’s great, which says a lot for the others.
6. You’ll Be The One
It’s amazing how a simple riff can be so powerful and effective. Case in point…this song. Sometimes less is more. What a great chorus! Very cool breakdown after the chorus. Wah wah solo. Damn. Short, sweet and to the point. Nothing flashy, just very fitting. Wolf is good at the chunk chunks. I love me some chunk chunk.
Great intro riff. It must feel so cool to come up with a riff like this. I wouldn’t know, but I can imagine. I think it would be cool if he switched instruments on each song during his shows. I’d love to watch him drum on this one. This is a powerful tune. He keeps adding layers to make each verse heavier. Wicked drums. Solo…Kind of a U2 Pride (In The Name Of Love) thing happening here. Almost exactly actually. Nah, it’s better. Just a similar structure. Wow, nicely done out of the lead break. I LIKE DRUMS!!! Killer ending again. COME TO OTTAWA!!!!
Delay on the guitar. Kind of haunting. Drums are loud in the mix in this one. This is even more Alice-y. Love it. He has such a cool handle on different sounds, different styles. It’s nice that every song is very different from the previous ones. Simple lines intertwining make this a good one. Solo time. Again nothing flashy, but a perfect fit. He already has his own style on guitar. I’m not hearing his dad in his playing. Oh, that song ended quickly.
9. The Big Picture
Sometimes you can tell from the first two seconds of a song whether it’s going to plow. This one starts like that. Cool guitar sound. This would be a good show opener. Pounding drums. This’ll get the crowd hoppin’. Sounds like so many voices. How long did it take Wolf to record this album? There’s so much on it, and I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but IT’S ALL HIM! Power yell again. Heavy as shit ending. Awesome.
10. Think It Over
Interesting intro. Kind of wish it started with piano instead of the guitar. Ah, what am I saying? He knows better than I do. This might make a good single too. Great harmonies on the chorus. Again, the simple lines adding to the overall wonderfulness of the tune. Solo. As much as I keep saying his solos fit so perfectly, I’m just waiting for him to absolutely rip one. Not this tune though.
11. You’re To Blame
Another cool intro. Building up…Yes, sir. Wicked riff. This might be the rippin’ solo song. He has a great knack for knowing when to lay off the instruments while he sings, and then pick it up. It’s a formula, but it works. Damn, that riff is sexy. Kudos to Michael “Elvis” Baskette for the sweet mix. Solo…this one is cool. Yep, it’s a ripper. Nice. Hold that note, Wolfgang. And then into a little chill breakdown. This song rocks. That riff is gonna be stuck in my head for days. And that’s OK.
Another downtune? The guy who harmonizes with him is pretty good. Oh, wait. It’s just so tight. By the way, the album cover is so cool. A giant crab attacking cars with a dude watching the carnage. Geddy is back out from under the blanket. Solo. Oh, great bass line. This is the best part of the album. DRUMS FROM HELL. Holy shit, I’m gonna need a nap after this. Back into the chorus. Damn right, this song is another that will be unreal live.
Another kind of ballad-y song. Just my opinion, but…holy crap it just got heavy. Back to the ballad-y type feel. That was a surprise. The guitar seems a little loud in the mix in this one. Again, the layers. HEAVINESS! New riff. I actually just started a little head bang. Not a good idea for someone my age. Lovin’ this heavy section. He’s gonna need an army of guitarists to pull this one off live.
No words. Just watch and listen.
Wow. Mammoth WVH is a great album, one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. I know it’s not the first album Wolfgang has played on, but as his first solo effort, it shows a maturity in songwriting that is hard to find. This is a serious contender for album of the year. The confidence he shows as a front man, the powerful vocals, the range, makes him sound like a seasoned veteran. The drumming is a standout point for me. Plodding, powerful, MAMMOTH sounding.
Even Geddy stuck around for the whole album, which is rare.
The name of the band is Mammoth, but it could easily describe the sound, the songwriting and the emotion he evokes in each track. This is a must have album for every rock fan out there. When is the second album coming out? I can’t wait for it.