Photo Credit: Travis Shinn
When you grow up sharing the same last name as one of the greatest guitarists to ever step foot on the planet, then follow him into the music industry, that can create a heavy legacy. Instead, Wolfgang Van Halen has wrapped his arms around it and fully embraced it. From performing alongside his father as the bassist in Van Halen, to recording with Sevendust’s Clint Lowery on his solo release and also being a member of Mark Tremonti’s band Tremonti, he has grown into his own as an artist.
Having gone through all of this on the first part of his journey in the world of music, it was only a matter of time before Wolfgang Van Halen would take the next step and release his own music. Indeed, now is finally the time for him to lift the veil on his debut album Mammoth WVH; which is a tribute to his father’s first band Mammoth as well as his initials. In every sense of the word this album is truly all his. Not only did he write all the material, but he played all the instruments and handles the vocals as well.
“Mr. Ed” is the track that kicks things off. Starting the song with some guitar work that would make his father proud, things build into a catchy up-tempo rocking tune. Of course, with a title that is a nod to his father, the guitar solo features some tapping that would do him proud. “Horribly Right” follows things up. This rocker has all the right ingredients baked into it just right. Catchy chorus – check, Great guitar work – check, Cool stereo effect – check, Perfectly placed pause – check. This is definitely one of the many gems on this album.
The fourth track in “Don’t Back Down” is one of the singles that has been released so far. What a rocker this one is. With chunky distortion laden guitar riffs a plenty, and thundering drums driving this one along, be careful driving with this one playing as a speeding ticket could be in your future. In Wolfgang’s travels as a musician he has developed a reputation as an excellent bassist and on “Resolve” he flexes his mighty chops on this one. He lays down a near hypnotic groove that is accentuated with a beautifully timed and played guitar solo.
Not all of the album is filled with rockers. “Circles” shows a quieter side of Wolfgang’s songwriting. Exquisitely arranged and written, it is a beautiful addition to the sonic palate of this album. Things quickly shift back into rocker mode with “The Big Picture”. This song is full of some nice beefy guitarwork and Wolfgang belting out the lyrics at just the time. “Think It Over” is absolutely drenched in AOR goodness straight out of the 80’s. It is eminently listenable and a joy to the ears. It’s impossible to not be smiling after this four-minute piece of pure pop-rock song perfection.
He gets back to rock roots with “You’re To Blame”. It had to happen somewhere on this album, and during this track he unleashes a ferocious solo that has to be making his dad smile from up above. Throughout “Feel” the energy builds, and where a solo would normally be, Wolfgang actually solo’s on everything. Yes, everything; the drums, the bass, and the guitar are all featured and played to perfection.
The final track “Stone” is powered along by solid drum work as well as Wolfgang’s incredible bass work. With clean and dirty guitar work layered on just right amounts it shows yet another side to Wolfgang’s impressive song writing. The breakout monster hit single “The Distance” wasn’t originally supposed to be part of the album, but due to its popularity it was wisely included as a bonus track.
Mammoth WVH is filled with supremely well-crafted songs that are chock full of intoxicating riffs. With levels of musicianship that are off the chart by most standards, Wolfgang Van Halen has shown that he isn’t withering away in the shadows of his father’s legacy. Not only is he become an extension of it, but with this album he has stepped out of the shadows and put his own unique stamp on the music world.
- Mr. Ed
- Horribly Right
- Don’t Back Down
- You’ll Be The One
- The Big Picture
- Think It Over
- You’re To Blame
- (Bonus Track) The Distance