MAMMOTH WVH: “II” (Album Review)

When a band’s debut album strikes hot, it’s always hard to follow up with a good sophomore release. In the case of Mammoth WVH, expectations are high. Wolfgang’s self-titled release received a lot of praise and his very first single was nominated for a Grammy Award! Now, this one-man band is releasing his follow-up, aptly named, “II.” It was recorded at Van Halen’s 5150 studio, produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Slash), and will be released on August 4 through BMG.

When the first notes hit in the album’s opening song, “Right?” I was reassured that everything was not only going to be alright but that this follow-up might even be better than its predecessor. Wolfgang’s talent shines through as he once again plays every instrument on the album–and flawlessly at that! “Right?” showcases the familiar Mammoth sound, but it’s heavier. The drums hit harder, the guitar solos are faster, and it feels like it has more freight. “Like a Pastime,” one of the album’s promotional singles, was released on May 8th and I have yet to hear anything negative from those who have listened to it.

The first official single released was “Another Celebration at the End of the World.” The music video, which is a whopping eight minutes long, features multiple versions of Wolfgang and illustrates the clever and fictitious way Wolfie put his touring band together. I chuckled out loud when bassist, Ronnie Ficarro enters the scene as a pizza delivery man. In all seriousness, the song is great; it’s upbeat, catchy, and brilliantly done. “Miles Above Me” has a very uplifting feel to it and will exhilarate your soul. I often find that the tracks in the middle of an album can start too little boring, but that is not the case here! “Take a Bow,” is the album’s longest track, coming in at just under seven minutes long! The song features driving rock riffs, dynamic tempos, and bluesy solos. I guarantee you will love it.

“Optimist” is a bit heavier but also quite unique. The off-beat drum rhythms, double kick patterns, and heavy bass lines are very impressive– especially when you know Wolfgang performed them all himself! Next up is “I’m Alright” and “Erase Me.” Both are great songs with driving beats, memorable guitar solos, and phenomenal vocal performances. The former mentioned even has a little cowbell. “Waiting” starts out slow and beautiful but quickly builds momentum as it burst into an anthemic ballad. This will no doubt be a fan favorite on the album. The closing track is the swinging “Better Than You.” This is another long track, but don’t let its length make you think it drags on– it doesn’t feel long at all. Toward the end of the song the time signature changes to something that would make Tool jealous. You’ll love it.

I cannot speak highly enough of Mammoth WVH. Wolfgang has performed with some of the greatest musicians to walk this earth and carries a legendary surname, but he chooses to forge his own band with its own unique sound. He has to be one of the hardest-working musicians in the business and I would argue, one of the most talented. This album is testimony to his hard work and dedication to the art of creating top-notch music. Whether you are a fan of hard rock or you gravitate toward radio-friendly songs, you will find “II” extremely refreshing. There are no gimmicks with Wolfgang. He’s the real deal. Mammoth is the band saving rock n roll.