Mammoth II

Mammoth WVH

I Am The Sheriff/BMG, 2023

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


There’s a moment about halfway through Wolfgang Van Halen’s second album, on the excellent rocker “Optimist,” where you completely forget that you’re listening to Eddie Van Halen’s son.

The vast majority of Mammoth II, like the debut, is modern rock that fits in line with most anything you hear on a current rock radio station (Alter Bridge, Chevelle, etc.) and with a metal inspiration; Van Halen cited Meshuggah, for example, as an influence on the sound here. Other than the occasional guitar solo, there’s almost nothing that links this to Wolf’s famous father’s band, and that’s the goal. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Not that Wolf is ashamed of that legacy or anything; he played bass in that band for the last 15 years of its existence, he records in his dad’s studio, and Mammoth was Van Halen’s original name before David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony joined up, so the legacy is honored while a new path is forged. And since few musicians are able to do this so well, it must be noted whenever it occurs: Wolfgang plays every instrument here and wrote all the songs himself. The only thing he didn’t do is produce.

The attention to detail is admirable, and the songs sound great, even if they aren’t always memorable or original-sounding. “Optimist” is a clear highlight, particularly that instrumental midsection and the double kick drum, while “Another Celebration At The End Of The World” is a fast, fun party rocker and a tip of the hat to Eddie with its brief hammer-on guitar solo (“Take A Bow” is the other EVH tribute here, a seven-minute riff-rocker during which Wolfgang plays a long solo on his dad’s old equipment).

Much of this would sound good on the radio, especially the rockers with pop smarts like “Erase Me” and “Miles Above Me,” but WVH is more focused on what sounds good on stage, which a lot of this music will. The above highlights (and closer “Better Than You”) have energy and focus and dynamics, not just riffs and shouting; there’s a reason Mammoth was picked to open for bands like Metallica, and it’s not the family name. Some variation in the songwriting would have made this one even better, but Mammoth II is a step up from its predecessor and a huge step forward for Wolfgang Van Halen.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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