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(Album Review) Mammoth WVH

Wolfgang Van Halen faces one hell of a daunting challenge as he sets out to make his own mark on the music industry.

The son of guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, and nephew of drummer Alex Van Halen, is ready to hit the road with the first album from his solo band, Mammoth WVH.  (out now)  The record was finished almost three years ago, but it was shelved while Wolfgang looked after his father, who died after battling cancer in 2020.  The younger Van Halen apparently thinks now is the time to unleash it on the public.  Friends, the music world is better off for his decision.

Let's be clear:  Wolfgang Van Halen may have a famous last name, but he's got his own story to tell, and the first chapter is one of the best rock albums in years.

The record is a one-man show, with Wolfgang writing, singing, and playing every instrument on every song.  The results are outstanding from start to finish.  The musicianship is as strong as you would expect, and he's got a terrific ear for mixing a hard rock edge with strong melodic sensibilities.  If you didn't know who was playing, you'd have no idea this record was created by a Van Halen. There are no sexual innuendos in the lyrics, and Wolfgang doesn't tap during the guitar solos.*  What you hear is a mix of Foo Fighters, Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, with a few others thrown in as well.  It's aggressive, grab-you-by-your-throat rock, with a dash of pop (see "Think it Over") and Black Sabbath ("Feel" and "Stone" come to mind) thrown in for good measure.

(*In our initial excitement to hear the album, we overlooked the short burst of tapping on the solo for the first song, "Mr. Ed."  It was as if Wolfgang said, "See, I can do this, now let's move on.")

Every song should be turned on volume 10, right from the opening riff of "Mr. Ed" until the closing track "Distance," the emotional tribute to his late father.   From this viewpoint, "Mr. Ed,"  "Horribly Right,"  "Don't Back Down," "Mammoth," and "Think It Over" are the favorites, but all 14 tracks deliver the goods.  You want something to play in the gym?  This is your album.  Want something to play while you drive down the highway with your friends this summer?  This is the right call. 

The 30-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen isn't a kid, and the historical record was already clear that he inherited the family musical gene.  He toured with Van Halen for several years  and was instrumental in the creation of their final studio album, so it was firmly established that he had the chops.   However, this album is a jaw-dropping debut that may well rejuvenate the entire rock genre, much like his father and uncle did many years ago.  

We can't wait to see where the story goes next.

Wolfgang Van Halen June 11 2021Wolfgang Van Halen is ready to take the rock world by storm.  (pic via guitarworld.com)

 

 

 

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