An understated songwriter and endearingly un-flashy multi-instrumentalist, Wolfgang Van Halen played every instrument and wrote every song. As a result, the whole thing truly swings; his fabulously belligerent drumming is a particularly thrilling revelation. Meanwhile, with a subtly diverse array of styles that encompasses everything from bullish, straightforward, FOO FIGHTERS-style hard rock to hazy, psychedelic Americana with lovable TOM PETTY vibes, “Mammoth” is quietly adventurous and wonderfully dynamic.
It begins with the absurdly catchy “Mr. Ed”, wherein Wolfgang delivers a powerhouse vocal over some irresistibly gritty radio rock, setting a bright and thunderous tone for everything that follows. Although still melodic to its core, “Horribly Right” showcases a gnarlier edge to the MAMMOTH WVH sound, juddering, sludgy riffs battling it out with another supremely memorable chorus; “Epiphany” is a shuffling, sky-punching, arena rock explosion; “Don’t Back Down” is balls-out stoner rock, with a particularly mighty vocal from the man himself, and riffs that gleefully twist the SABBATH-ian blueprint.
There are more mellow moments too, all underpinned by the sturdiest of rhythm sections. “Resolve” is a loose-limbed, bluesy sprawl; “Circles” is a sun-scorched drift across some shimmering desert plain, with a wildly dramatic final crescendo; “Think It Over” is exquisite and oddly timeless power pop with a faint AOR sheen; epic closer “Stone” is downbeat but dreamlike, switching from a tense, ghostly creep to billowing waves of overdriven pomp, stopping off for some angular doom riffing along the way. Elsewhere, those craving some nuts-out hard rock will be well served, particularly by the sharp and snotty “You’ll Be The One” and the strutting blues metal of “You’re To Blame”.
Throughout it all, a strong impression is given of a musician with a very clear idea of what he wants to do and all the requisite skills to make that vision real. “Mammoth” exists in no one’s shadow. This is a bold and eminently lovable debut, full of great songs and electrifying performances. A chip off the old block, then, but this is the start of a new legacy.