Review Summary: New lineup, same Wolfmother
Andrew Stockdale, the hippie-like frontman of the acclaimed Australian band Wolfmother has seen many sides of the music business in a short period of time.
In 2006, Wolfmother released their highly acclaimed self-titled album, which sold over 1.4 million copies worldwide. It went five-times platinum in their native Australia and even reached the Top 30 in both the UK and US where the album sold over half a million copies. Stockdale’s guitar playing on songs such as “Woman,” “Joker And The Thief” and “Colossal” immediately drew comparisons to Led Zeppelin. Some even criticized Wolfmother for sounding too much like Zeppelin and never finding their true unique sound.
Wolfmother’s startling rise to the top of the world almost came to an abrupt end, when Chris Ross, Myles Heskett, the bassist and drummer of the original trio, decided to quit the band in August of 2008 after “irreconcilable differences” and “longstanding frictions” with Stockdale, leaving him on his own and in search of a new band.
With a new lineup, a quartet now instead of trio, Wolfmother burns down the gates and unleashes “Cosmic Egg,” a fitting rebirth of a band that very nearly buried itself with its astonishing rise to success. With the addition of bassist Ian Peres, drummer Dave Atikins and rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth, Stockdale creates a more complete sound, an crucial element that had been missing on the band’s previous self-titled album.
The greatest moments on the album are in the two songs “Far Away” and “Violence Of The Sun.” “Far Away” is an excellent track that builds in power from the hypnotizing verses eventually leading to the thunderous chorus. Stockdale throws many elements of his arsenal into this song, combining soft rhythm playing in the beginning of the song with commanding power chords in the chorus until Stockdale’s shrieks at the end on his solo. “Violence Of The Sun” is a more psychedelic approach from Wolfmother that also experiences a build in power, ultimately leading to Stockdale screaming to the high heavens at the end. It’s as if the world was spiraling into an abyss and Stockdale was on top of a mountain singing an anthem of epic proportions.
“In The Morning” is an interesting song that sounds a bit like “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” from the Beatles and their psychedelic classic “Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band” and also ends similarly to Oasis’ seven minute epic “Champagne Supernova.” Stockdale sings as though he’s in a dream, walking through a long, hazy journey and this makes for quite an experience when listening to the song.
For all of the added power in Wolfmother’s songs behind Stockdale and Aiden Nemeth’s twin guitar work, the Austrialian rock band struggles to move forward with their music. Instead, they keep the same sound that had led to their previous success, but even this proves to be a struggle on “Cosmic Egg.” There is a vast array of influences that are spread out throughout the entire alubm that cause the band to sound like a group of imitators instead of a band with a unique sound.
“White Feather” opens with a guitar riff from Stockdale that almost sounds identical like the opening guitar part from AC/DC’s classic “Highway To Hell.” Songs like “California Queen,” “Sundial,” and “Pilgrim” contain guitar riffs almost directly from the catalog of Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. An influence from Jack White of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs is also present as Stockdale’s guitar work on “10,000 Feet” sounds extremely similar to the Raconteur’s hit single “Salute Your Solution.”
Wolfmother isn’t dwelling on the past. Differences have been put aside and a new lineup has been formed. However, a new sound appears to be lacking. For die-hard Wolfmother fans, this sophomore effort may appear as a step backward rather than a step forward as Stockdale sticks to the same formula that created success with their self-titled album. For those who have yet to witness Wolfmother will rejoice over their Led Zepplin, Black Zabbath roots that spread throughout the album. Stockdale says it best in the penultimate song “Phoenix”: “Look to the future is all we can do/ Like a phoenix rising in the sky.” Wolfmother has experienced a phoenix-like rebirth with the release of “Cosmic Egg.” Finally, they are back.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars