Mammoth II

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August 2, 2023 at 11:31 am Quote #66799



Author: Dom Lawson

rating 8 / 10

Track listing:
01. Right
02. Like a Pastime
03. Another Celebration at the End of the World
04. Miles Above Me
05. Take a Bow
06. Optimist
07. I’m Alright
08. Erase Me
09. Waiting
10. Better Than You

The first album that was released under the MAMMOTH WVH name was one of 2021′s most unexpected surprises. Not that anyone thought that Wolfgang Van Halen was incapable of forging his own path, but the shadow of his famous father was bound to loom large, at least until a new and hopefully distinctive musical identity had been established.

That self-titled debut did exactly that, and effectively shut down any and all comparisons in an instant. Rooted in a gently commercial strain of hard / alternative rock, it bore little to no resemblance to VAN HALEN and marked its creator out as a gifted songwriter. Now that MAMMOTH WVH no longer require any kind of pre-emptive explanation, “II” is simply the next chapter in the multi-instrumentalist’s story.

Understandably reluctant to mess with a winning formula, Wolfgang Van Halen has played and sung every last scrap of “II”. Produced at his own 5150 Studio with producer Michael Baskette, these songs retain the subtly unique sound that MAMMOTH WVH unveiled last time around: thunderous, left-field rock ‘n’ roll evangelism, with a radio-friendly sheen and a heart the size of Los Angeles. This time, the thunder is even more notable, as demonstrated by opener “Right”: a beautiful squall of vocal harmonies and uplifting chord shifts that hinge on a brutal, percussive, staccato riff. Somehow, and herein lies the magic, the blend of machine-gun kicks and soaring, ALTER BRIDGE-style melodies works superbly, and every chorus delivers a warm rush of surprise.

Next, “Like A Pastime” is a stuttering but sonorous burst of athletic post-grunge, with hints of glassy-eyed new wave and elegant AOR and a magnificent vocal performance from the big guy. For more straight-ahead, big rock thrills, “Another Celebration at the End of the World” fits the bill: a constantly motoring feast of melodic hooks, harmonies and bullish, punk-metal riffs, it rocks hard and smart, with the incisiveness of FOO FIGHTERS and the swagger of BUCKCHERRY. “Miles Above Me” is built differently, preferring strident, balls-out power-pop, redolent of THE CARS at their pin-sharp best or, if you prefer, a less annoying WEEZER. Either way, it’s a sublime piece of pop-rock songwriting, emboldened by the magical sound of loud guitars.

The mood darkens for “Take a Bow”, a tense emotional splurge with another huge chorus, jabbing, twisted riffs and an indulgent, prog-blues guitar solo that will delight legacy obsessives. The mood stays gloomy for “Optimist”, which offers stealthy prog metal with psychedelic intent, but beautifully balanced out by another extraordinary, memorable vocal from WVH himself. Oh, and the mother of all one-note chug riffs. The darkness clears for “I’m Alright”, wherein the spirit of old-school rock ‘n’ roll is dusted off and given a hearty slap on the back. Pianos clatter, riffs spiral skyward, and vocal harmonies shimmer sweetly in the middle distance: it’s a real standout on an album that has no real weak spots.

Whether it’s the straightforward melodic rock of “Erase Me”, the tearstained soft-alt-rock of “Waiting” or the extravagant, prog-fueled and laudably heavy “Better Than You” — the most epic and adventurous song on the MAMMOTH WVH books thus far — this is one of those big, life-affirming rock albums that defies cynicism and makes the world a slightly less unpleasant place. It’s a family tradition, superbly upheld here.

August 5, 2023 at 8:08 am Quote #66807


ALBUM REVIEW: Mammoth WVH — Mammoth II
August 3, 2023 Mark Diggins

The law of the internet pretty much says that tall poppies are fair game, and sons of famous fathers are always in the cross-hairs simple because of their parentage. Some of course will be waiting for Van Halen similarities just to shoot it all down, but to be honest Wolfie treads his own path here just like he did on that wonderful debut, and again he handles all instruments.

If I’m totally honest I rather like it, even though the polished early Century Hard Rock sheen isn’t bang on my usual cup of tea. There’s some wonderful musicianship here like on ‘Right’ which burst out of the speakers; and some absolutely lovely riffs! But at other times I’m not too sure about the Rush meets Big Country vibe of tracks like ‘Like a Pastime’. It’s those Prog-lite leanings that I can see a lot of people connecting with, but for this listener its exactly that aspect that puts me off a little. Conversely the single ‘Another Celebration At The End Of The World’ is just damn good fun with some sublime guitar.

There’s a little more free reign you feel than on the debut, and we trek some interesting paths. On the safer side of the street there are two main variations — for every relatively straight forward hard rocker like ‘Miles Above Me’ with it’s wonderful breakdown, there’s the ones that you feel are simply airplay targeted like ‘Take A Bow’ piled heavy with harmonies and hooks. Not that there is anything remotely wrong with either of those of course. “Take a Bow’ is, after all, a rather tasty mid-tempo number replete with some of my favourite guitar on the record.

For me though, the more intriguing side of the ledger is on tracks like ‘Optimist’ that feel like they have grown organically rather than being tethered to a template (no matter how good that template may be). Indeed ‘Optimist’ treks down an extremely interesting alternate route — it’s chunkier, heavier and is the highlight of the album for me. It definitely sounds like something I’d love to hear more of.

Deep into the record it’s tracks like ‘I’m Alright’ with it’s refreshingly simple approach that connect instantly even if the Prog-lite harmonies do get a little repetitive with repeated listens. ‘Erase Me’, another aimed at radio, is also more than adequate and rather essential if you hanker after that early 2000′s feel.

We close strongly too with the ballad ‘Waiting’ doing a great job of pulling off an angst-riddled modern Rock ballad before the other real highlight ‘Better Than You’ closes out in the sort of style that you can only dream of. It too has that modern progressive signature but rather than sound even remotely pretentious is just shines. That one I could play all day and not get tired of it.

A great modern Rock album that packs a lot into its ten tracks. Do I like it more than the debut? You know what — I think I just might do!

8 / 10

Mammoth II tracklisting: 1. Right | 2. Like A Pastime | 3. Another Celebration At The End Of The World | 4. Miles Above Me | 5. Take A Bow | 6. Optimist | 7. I’m Alright | 8. Erase Me | 9. Waiting | 10. Better Than You

August 5, 2023 at 10:32 pm Quote #66808


ALBUM REVIEW: Mammoth II — Mammoth WVH
Tasha Brown
August 4, 2023

When the surname Van Halen is thrown into the ring, grand expectations aren’t far behind. It’s something which Wolfgang Van Halen is more than used to at this point, having played in his namesake VAN HALEN in 1996, moving to TREMONTI, and finally into his own project MAMMOTH WVH. This has come with its criticisms from Twitter goblins but do you see them earning a Grammy nomination with their very first single, extensive tours with ALTER BRIDGE, or supporting DEF LEPPARD and MÖTLEY CRÜE on the Stadium Tour? Exactly. Now MAMMOTH WVH once again steps to the plate with new album Mammoth II. Picking up from where we left off with 2021′s eponymous debut debut, our man Wolfgang performs all the instrumentals himself. A gargantuan task but not one Van Halen is particularly intimidated by. What we have ahead of us are ten tracks of pure rock n’ roll which promise to fill many an arena in the future.

Right starts the proceedings as they mean to go on with a fast hard rock track with catchy chorus hooks and a nice call and response section. While Van Halen’s vocals aren’t as bluesy in tone as we may have anticipated, this doesn’t do much to discount the track. A small gripe is the vocals get a little lost in the fray of the booming instrumental but as we say, it’s small. Tonal expectations aside, Right is a catchy little number. A hint of guitar virtuosity sits on the horizon with a solo which doesn’t deviate from the baseline instrumental too much but we don’t want to peak too early. Right flows into recent single Like A Pastime rather splendidly. The darker edge of the intro paves way for a softer, brighter melody overall but it’s pleasant all the same. Talk of “drowning slowly” in someone’s mistreatment blooms into a chorus which seems to be lacking something, perhaps a touch more aggression or a shift in tone. “I can’t tell you how much it means to be free from you” is a powerful statement on paper but in execution feels slightly underwhelming, especially when a wonderful projection of desperation follows not long after.

Another single, Another Celebration At The End Of The World, comes next and plays with spatial audio which is always a nice touch to prick the ear. The percussion-based intro filling out into a wonderfully rounded instrumental is exquisite composition. We’re given a faster vocal delivery and fully get behind the statement “we’re on the right track now”. Melding an arena rock chorus with crowd participation sections make this a brilliant first single but it’s the subtle looping in of the guitar solo which makes this track a true celebration. So when Miles Above Me shuffles on to the tracklist, we coast towards the middle of the road. Pleasant enough, right? The first verse is instrumentally minimalist and allows itself to open up naturally. For a track which talks about not being good enough for someone and having that moment of realisation it’s actually you who is better off without them, it floats past with little fanfare. It’s a shame as there are subtle nuances such as the flourish of keys before the guitar solo or the lusciously buzzing vocal harmonies. They just need to be listened for.

A song many may be familiar with by now is Take A Bow; a hefty track sitting at almost seven minutes. A singular guitar picks out the melodic intro to the first of two ballads Mammoth II has to offer. The bassline sits heavy in the mix and adds a layer of harmonies to the vocals. Questions such as “how far will you run?” and “am I enough for you?” pepper the lyrics and settle in the crevices of the mind as there’s a small escalation into the chorus. Between each chorus line sits a deliciously crunchy riff but it’s after this there are some teething problems. A slightly staggered instrumental jars the listen before moving into the second chorus and again into a guitar solo which should have been used to punctuate the sentiment of “I’m not going back”. Though sandwiched between these is a grinding guitar section which has the edge we had previously been looking for. Which brings us to the highlight of the album: Optimist. A hauntingly crunchy track which depicts the rage we all feel in a toxic relationship. “Wishing you nothing but the best” proves to be more scathing than exacting revenge while “you ever the fucking optimist” carries that carnal aggression. We reach a point we came to with Like A Pastime in that Optimist could have been a lot more than we’re listening to. This isn’t a criticism by any means. There’s so much potential for this jewel of a track to have shone that might brighter had MAMMOTH WVH simply leaned in a little more.

Now, what is arena rock without a little AC/DC reference? Exactly, which is why we have I’m Alright. Though this isn’t your typical met-a-girl-at-a-bar-and-wanna-be-shook-all-night-long song on a jukebox. Instead, we’re told to “fuck off, back away, and let me breathe”… perhaps in response to the subject of Optimist. This is a man feeling his oats and who are we to stop him? Keys pervade the chorus and give us the feel of old school rock n’ roll yet it slows for some reason when Van Halen apologises for himself. But speed isn’t always key as a solo slithers in and slowly steps into itself the way a person would when they experience subpar behaviour from a lover or friend. With this in mind, Erase Me is something of an anomaly. Not so much as the closing track but let’s not jump the gun here. Erase Me sits on the border of pop rock. It’s bright and airy, footloose and fancy free, which it perhaps shouldn’t be. “You’re like a walking disease / You only prey on the weak” simply doesn’t fit the aural aesthetic. Intentionally of course. The point simply evades us in doing so.

Remember we mentioned there were two ballads to Mammoth II? The second comes in the form of Waiting. A simple instrumental slowly pries the moment open. After all, a soul isn’t bared all in one go. It takes time. As do goodbyes which is essentially what Waiting becomes. “I don’t think I’ll ever know the way to go without you” sits atop a fuller band sound without it being overwhelming. The vocals sadly get drowned out slightly when it comes to the chorus but the overall magnitude of the song isn’t impacted in any way. Were the album to end here, there would be no issue. Some would say it’s cliché to end an album on a slower note but that doesn’t make it any less of a valid reason to do so. Instead however, we get Better Than You, a track which feels neither here nor there. Its separated verses prickle the mind and never quite come together. Perhaps it’s just a victim of the tracklisting but it seems like a whimper rather than a bang to go out on.

As we draw to a close, if anyone’s still looking for a comparison between father and son, this isn’t the review to find that in. Wolfgang Van Halen is forging his way in his own merit and should be regarded as his own entity. So where does Mammoth II sit in the grand scheme of things? MAMMOTH WVH has a defined sound by this point and it has served them well, though we will point out there are times when they sit in the comfort zone as a result. By all means play what you know but allow yourself to bend within that. MAMMOTH WVH has all the potential in the world to become one of the great projects of our time if they leaned in just a little bit further. As of now, they’re sitting on the cusp, just waiting for the drop. Maybe that will come with album three if that’s where the project is heading. Until then, MAMMOTH WVH’s trajectory is going nowhere except upward.

Rating: 8/10

August 10, 2023 at 12:48 pm Quote #66862


Mammoth WVH – Mammoth II (Album Review)
Thursday, 10 August 2023
Written by Simon Ramsay


While chatting with US shock jock Howard Stern back in 2006, Eddie Van Halen wasn’t shy about bigging up his then teenage son. “Wait ’til you hear this kid play bass, guitar and drums,” the late shred-legend said. “He can do anything I do on guitar. If I excel at the speed of sound, this kid excels at the speed of light.” More than 15 years later that declaration about Wolfgang Van Halen seems less like parental cheerleading than it does a reserved understatement.

Sandwiched by his stint as Van Halen’s bassist from 2007 until his father’s passing in 2020, and his stealing the show at last year’s Taylor Hawkins tribute show in Los Angeles, shredding away on Hot For Teacher and Panama with jaw-dropping familial flair, Wolfgang’s debut solo album, released in 2019 under the Mammoth WVH tag, only confirmed his credentials as a multi-talented prodigy.

Inspired by the successful one-man-band approach Dave Grohl employed on Foo Fighters’ debut outing, and ably abetted by producer Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette, he sang and played every instrument on his acclaimed bow with so much aplomb you’d never guess it wasn’t the work of a watertight band operating at the peak of their powers.

But where that effort still had the exploratory air of an artist discovering his voice, ‘Mammoth II’ finds its creator confidently asserting his identity by pushing the Mammoth sound, and his own compositional capabilities, forwards with complete authority.

Once again excelling in every role, whether deftly deploying fresh rhythmic patterns, contagious vocal layering or colourful guitar strokes, an evolving train of textural embellishments are gradually woven in to each song by Van Halen as they progress, adding extra momentum and dynamism to tighter, sharper, broader tunes that draw upon a wider range of his influences.

Although largely retaining the debut’s post-grunge-Alter Bridge foundation, Wolfgang skilfully lobs everything from progressive time signatures and explosive Meshuggah drumming to harmonically-rich Beatles melodies and nasty drop-tuned fretwork into the mix. And that’s just on the opening song.

Elsewhere, Miles Above channels the Foos and ’80s Van Hagar at their most radio-friendly, while the stabbing new wave-tinted strains of Like A Pastime, and rock n’ rolling metallic monster Another Celebration At The End of the World, have crowd participation refrains stamped into their anthemic DNA. And then there’s the epic centrepiece Take A Bow, a beguiling piece of sonic architecture that finds Wolf elevating the song’s emotional impact with one of the most bedazzling guitar solos of the modern age.

Instrumental flair aside, Van Halen’s singing, full of infectious rhythmic phrasing, impassioned indignation and existential melancholy, perfectly conveys the damaged-yet-unbroken soul within these personal songs. Whether wryly destroying internet trolls who question his worth on the swaggering Aerosmith-powered I’m Alright to Optimist’s claustrophobic brew of vitriol and vulnerability, this is an album that, touching on his father’s passing, betrayal and unhealthy relationships, feels like a necessary exorcism.

It will be very interesting to see where Wolfgang goes from here. He could easily keep making albums like this, ratcheting up the quality, execution and scope each time. But with so much ability, knowledge and imagination at his disposal, the potential is there for him to do something completely fresh in a way that, while building upon his ancestral legacy, could well give modern rock-based music the injection of innovation it’s long been crying out for.

August 13, 2023 at 9:19 am Quote #66877


Written by Jimmy Glinster
2023-08-13 16:05:55

The expectation must be set pretty high when your old man was a legend of the 6-string but luckily for Wolfgang Van Halen I know fuck all about his old man apart from the following few “facts”.

-Dimebag reckons he was an absolute legend, and if Dimebag said it then must be 101 proof 100% the truth.
-He plays some solo called Eruption, or something like that, which is apparently the tits. I’ve never listened to it, so I can neither confirm nor deny.
-His band played that song Jump which has a crap load of keyboards in it, but no keyboard player in the film clip with makes you wonder what the guys playing in the rock band in tight spandex pants are actually doing.

Anyway, enough of that rubbish. I’m here to review Wolfgang’s band Mammoth WVH which has fuck all to do with how much of a legend his old man was (RIP). So, let’s get to it shall we?

Right from the get-go the album opens with some thumping tom fills and a guitar chuggin along to the beat. Shortly after Wolfgang commences some smooth melodic vocal passages. The song has a big sound, and the choruses open right up to create an anthemic vibe. As the song breaks down in the bridge a guitar solo commences which slowly but surely introduces us to some licks which I’d say were passed down through the genes. The song ends on a heavier note with some syncopated core style chugging patterns. Not a bad start to the album!

As the guitars chug along during the opening of Like A Pastime it’s quite apparent that the production on this album is fucking top notch. It’s super tight and super balanced with everything sitting exactly where it needs to be. The riffs aren’t really anything innovative, and to be quite honest it’s pretty simplistic. That’s not a bad thing, simplicity works when it is well-structured, and this song is very well structured. I feel I’ve already heard this, so it’s possible it may have already been a single. And google confirms that this was in fact the second single.

Some rumbling toms again introduce us to the next track titled Another Celebration at the End of the World. This one’s a complete fucking rocker, relentless riffing topped off with a cowbell, a fucking cowbell! It’s actually got a bit of a Slash with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators vibe to it albeit a little heavier. Guitar solos flow freely in and out of the track as Wolfgang further shows off his guitar skills.

The band back off the accelerator slightly as Miles Above Me introduces more of a pop-rock vibe to the album. It seems like some kind of love song, or at least a story of falling short in love or maybe trying to punch too far above ya weight without ever reaching the attempted heights. I’ve also probably got no fucking idea what I’m talking about.

Take A Bow follows suit with another pulled-back groove. This time around though it’s a little bouncier with more of a progressive melodic sound. The broken guitar riffs and shifting rhythms pull me in and out of the shifting grooves. It’s very catchy, in a smooth and meandering way. As the song hits its bridge, the guitars take over and the solos ensue before dragging me back into the chorus. Big track, banger of a track!

I’ve been accused of being far from an Optimist, but fuck me, I’m optimistic about this opening bass line and the stuttered rock beat following it. I don’t do funky time signatures really well, but this isn’t ya standard 4/4 groove. Maybe some weird 7/8 thing or whatever, but who really cares, y’all aren’t gonna get it anyway, unless you’re a Tool fan who at this point is probably jacking it in the corner over polyrhythms, even though ya don’t even know what they are, but they sound cool and stuff. Anyway, now that I’ve got my little Tool rant out of the way let’s get back to this track! Absolute Fucking Banger!

Yeah, thanks for asking, I’m Alright now that I’ve got that off my chest. Speaking of chests, Wolfgang sure does have some lungs in his that just continuously belt out big strong melodies. Yeah, he goes alright, as does the rest of the band who are maybe just touring musicians and have fuck all to do with this album. Is this all just Wolfy showing off his multi-instrumentational skills? Wikipedia would have me believe so, and if so, that’s pretty fucking impressive!

At this point, I’m going to Erase Me from this album review because I’m enjoying it way too much to continue writing it. I just want to fucking listen, and that rarely happens. For those who don’t know, I write my reviews as I am listening to them, so what you get is exactly what I’m thinking and sometimes doing as the music plays, with little to no time to stop and edit, or review my thoughts. A simple spelling and grammar check afterward fixes up some of my fuckups and hopefully, Krispy nabs a couple more before it gets published.

Enough about me and my shitty gonzo writing style though, this is about Mammoth WVH who’s writing, and production style is way more controlled and perfected than mine. This album showcases the expansive multitude of Wolfgang’s talents and for only his second attempt I can only image the brilliance which we are yet to be blessed with.

Full credit where credit is due, and the credit on this one is definitely fucking due!

August 13, 2023 at 2:52 pm Quote #66878


Mammoth WVH 2 debuted at #4 in the Swiss album charts, higher than any VH album :)

August 13, 2023 at 8:21 pm Quote #66879


[Album Review] MAMMOTH II — Mammoth WVH
By Dave Dreher – August 13, 2023

With his second release, Wolfgang VanHalen is staking his claim to a new generation of Van Halen greatness — MAMMOTH II is an impressive sophomore effort and shows not just growth but also an amazing depth not just in writing but also in performance.

Kicking things off is the incredibly heavy — yet oddly melodic RIGHT? Wolfgang’s voice never slips into the much-overused metal gravel growl that the instrumentation indicates might be coming and that fact makes this sound fresh, exciting, and unique when compared to a lot of the things going on in the metal scene today.

The next few tracks following the amazing opener are all strong but do seem to suffer a bit from the first track being so strong but — after repeated listenings, those songs do stand on their own quite nicely. Things pick back up quickly though when the opening riffs of MILES ABOVE ME rattle your brain.

The album comes in at 10 songs and clocks in at a modest 48 minutes, which makes it a perfect choice for a morning drive to work to get that blood flowing and the day off to a rocking start.

Wolfgang’s prowess on the guitar is jaw-dropping but — I guess what should we expect from someone who grew up, was taught, mentored, and loved by one of — if not THE — greatest guitarists of all time. Wolfgang has his own style though — he’s building upon the groundwork laid by his iconic father and creating a sound that is all his — and promises to redefine music much the way Eddie did — but on his own terms — and I can’t wait to watch it happen.

The album closes out as strongly as it started with the three punch of tracks — ERASE ME, WAITING, and BETTER THAN YOU. All three totally different in structure and tone but all showcasing the talent, imagination, and drive of a musical giant.

MAMMOTH II is out now and available wherever you purchase or stream your passion.

August 15, 2023 at 7:26 pm Quote #66889


August 17, 2023 at 7:21 am Quote #66897

Vince G.

He’s kicking all sorts of ass, isn’t he?

Chip off the ol’ block.

August 18, 2023 at 2:02 pm Quote #66912


“Rock act Mammoth WVH scores a No. 4 debut with its second album, Mammoth II. It launches with just over 20,000 copies sold and follows the act’s self-titled set, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 in 2021.”

August 29, 2023 at 11:48 am Quote #67034


Album Review: Mammoth WVH — Mammoth II
Kelly Catlin August 29th, 2023 – 8:00 AM

Wildly entertaining and flawlessly curated

Mammoth II is the sophomore album for Mammoth WVH, their debut album having been released in 2021. With only two years in between albums, Mammoth WVH curated a masterful follow-up to their premiere album, creating an intriguing, flawless and wildly talented work of art.

“Miles Above Me” welcomes listeners with a track that ticks all boxes, from appealing lyrics to soulful vocals accompanied by flawless instrumentals. The song is upbeat and offers something for everyone, including the right amount of pop without being overpowering. The same goes for “Like a Pastime,” which seamlessly enmeshes the perfect blend of grit and melodic permanence. Mammoth WVH tackles minor scales while retaining an upbeat quality, thanks to the track’s fast-paced rhythm. The vocals bleed from one verse to the next, Wolfgang’s talent showcased throughout.

“Optimist” comes in with a bit more attitude, the distortion preparing listeners for an edgier experience. The track covers a wide range of sounds but still hovers in minor-chord territory, comfortable in the murky depths of music that embodies a more pensive quality. “Waiting” offers a lighter approach than previous songs, a poignant expression of patience with a pretty melody. It’s simple, elegant and perfectly placed on the album. It doesn’t take long, however, before Mammoth WVH adds harder instrumentals to the song, kicking it up before falling back to let the lyrics speak for themselves.

“Better Than You” opens with a punchy riff that introduces yet another dynamic song, the tune is fun and positioned against smart, entertaining lyrics. As with the other tracks, the lyrics are masterfully crafted and offer a deeper insight into Mammoth WVH. The entire album offers expertly crafted melodies, sharp instrumentals that transition from alt-rock to hard rock and lyrics that simply cannot be ignored.

It’s hard not to fall into everything that Mammoth II has to offer. Yes, the vocals are on point. Yes, the instrumentals are exactly what listeners crave. But the lyrics, coupled with the consistent use of minor chords, lend a haunting feel to the entire album. It’s definitely music that can effortlessly be listened to, it’s also the kind of music that demands attention. It’s thought-provoking, powerful and it’s worthy of its title.


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