Album Review: “Mammoth II” by Mammoth WVH

Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of the legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, has returned with his sophomore album, “Mammoth II.” Following the success of his self-titled debut in 2021, Wolfgang once again takes on the roles of songwriter, vocalist, and instrumentalist for this project, released on August 4, 2023, through I Am the Sheriff and BMG Rights Management.

The background of “Mammoth II” is intertwined with Wolfgang’s journey as a solo artist. He began venturing into solo music in 2014, but his debut album didn’t see the light until 2021 under the moniker Mammoth WVH, a nod to his father’s early band name and his own initials. This debut album achieved remarkable success, topping the Billboard Top Rock Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums charts. After an extensive tour in support of his debut, Wolfgang focused on creating the follow-up.

The writing and recording process for “Mammoth II” kicked off in September 2022, a significant moment as it was Wolfgang’s first album without his father Eddie, who had been a source of inspiration and bonding. However, the sessions, by design, were faster this time around, as Wolfgang had already established the band’s sound. Like the first album, he handled all aspects of the music, including writing, vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. The album was recorded in Eddie’s iconic 5150 Studios with the assistance of music producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette.

The themes and composition of “Mammoth II” are deeply personal. Many songs revolve around Wolfgang processing the grief of losing his father in 2020. He describes this album as his way of working through the events in his life since 2019, resulting in a darker and heavier sound compared to his debut. The album also touches on his experiences with online negativity and toxic behavior, with tracks like “I’m Alright” serving as his “anthem for telling people to f*** off.”

The album has been compared to the likes of the Foo Fighters and Alter Bridge, featuring a variety of hard rock elements from the early 2000s. It places a greater emphasis on guitar solos, with the longest solo being a 90-second spectacle in “Take a Bow.” Wolfgang manages to balance “heaviness” and “melody” exceptionally well, as evident in tracks like “Right?” and “Better Than You.” The album is a testament to his versatility, as he even attempts to merge the sounds of The Beatles with metal band Meshuggah in “Better Than You.”

In March 2023, “Mammoth II” was officially announced, along with its release date and the first single, “Another Celebration at the End of the World.” It received positive reviews from critics, with many praising its variety and quality songwriting. Classic Rock applauded it for scaling new peaks, while Ultimate Classic Rock commended its starting-gun riffs and impassioned vocals, positioning it as a template for the future.

The album’s track listing, all written by Wolfgang Van Halen, includes songs like “Right?,” “Like a Pastime,” and “Better Than You,” showcasing his songwriting and musical prowess.

Wolfgang Van Halen, as the driving force behind Mammoth WVH, continues to carry the torch of his family’s musical legacy while forging his own path. “Mammoth II” is a testament to his talent and resilience, delivering a captivating blend of heartfelt themes and hard-hitting rock. It’s an album that not only pays homage to his past but sets the stage for an exciting musical journey ahead.

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