B-Mac Album Review: Mammoth WVH, Mammoth WVH

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

On October 6, 2020, the world of music was in for a shock: the sudden passing of a legendary guitarist. Eddie Van Halen, the tapping, shredding virtuoso of Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famers Van Halen, departed this world after bravely battling cancer. That was a total gut check for me because Van Halen was the first band I fell in love with. I felt even more sad for his son Wolfgang because having lost my own father a year before his, I knew what he was going through. To heal, Wolfie released a single to honor his father, “Distance.” I always knew he was talented given his work in both Van Halen and Tremonti, but hearing this song blew me away. It was announced that he was working on his first solo album. He decided to name his new project Mammoth WVH, which was Van Halen’s first band name before changing. Handling all the instruments and singing as well as producing, his self-titled debut is now here.

The album begins with “Mr. Ed.” Right off the bat, Wolfie shreds a big intro. The riff has this classic hard rock vibe with the bass and drums steadily aligned with the guitar. I really enjoy hearing Wolfie put some soul in his voice. When he solos, he sounds magnificent. A stellar opening for a debut album. “Horribly Right” gets down in the trenches to get dirty. The guitar sound is much meatier and sensational. I love how he plays the bass on this song as it has a sludge metal feel to it. What really stuck out the most to me was Wolfie’s gnarly singing, as it sounds murkier than the previous song, yet it is delightful. “Epiphany” starts with a chugging bass line, followed by a slick guitar riff. This song has the markings of an arena rocker as the music is very atmospheric in the sense. Wolfie does not show off too much on the guitar, just layers in enough bombastic licks to make the song soar. “Don’t Back Down” is the album’s standalone tune. Filled with razor sharp guitar licks and bodacious bass beats, Wolfie gets the blood going. Adding elements of glam rock give it a more polished look. Wish he did more on the drums with this song though, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Up next is “Resolve.” Adding some acoustic guitar into the mix, the tempo is slowed down just a tad. This ballad-like tune lets us see Wolfie in a new light. He makes the gentler side of music sound smoking. He throws in not one, but two major solos, and while both are different sounding, they are equally exquisite. This is one of my favorites.

“You’ll Be the One” returns us to the power riffs we have been craving for. The main riff pays homage to AC/DC as it is simple yet powerful. Wolfie channels Phil Rudd on the drum as much as Malcolm Young on the rhythm section. When it comes to the solo, the wailing and shredding closely resembles something Slash would compose. Great stuff! “Mammoth” dives into the worlds of alternative hard rock and pop rock. This self-titled track is a testament by Wolfie, looking to prove people wrong that he is his own musician. His singing on this track is one of his best. “Circles” is psychedelia turned upside down. The sonic, humming strums of the guitar slows the vibe down enough to make me get lost in the music. Wolfie sings more melodically, taking a page out of the David Gilmour playbook. I would love to see this song become his next single. “The Big Picture” is a crunchy yet melodic number with big riffs. The sonic vocals Wolfie performs is intriguing, like the way the late great Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots sounded. “Think It Over” is straight up pop rock. Surprisingly, this is a good song he wrote. It has that cheery, bubbly melody that is heard in the riffs. He sings more harmoniously on this tune, and it sounds decent. The solo he performs is very Rolling Stones like, a 60s style lick that is bluesy.

Wolfie brings the music back to the hard rock swagger we love with “You’re To Blame.” He mixes blues and metal together to give us something tasty. His solo really pays homage to his dad as he wails and screeches to Heaven, tapping along the way. The drumming work is impeccable. “Feel” is thunderous and glamorous. On this song, Wolfie uses his dad’s famous Frankenstrat. It is in his blood to play this guitar, and he performs on it with excellence. He also plays my favorite bass riff off the album; funky, bluesy and metal all at once. Wolfie closes out his debut with “Stone.” It is the longest song as it clocks in at 6:33. Wolfie displays his progressive skills as his musicianship takes bigger strides than before. The steady guitar melody along with the grand drumming is epic sounding. This AOR sounding tune captivates what he was accomplishing. As a bonus, he throws in his debut single, “Distance.” Whenever I hear this song or watch the music video, I cry because I think of my dad, and the love he had for me. Wolfie and I were very lucky to have fathers like that.

Wolfgang Van Halen created his own legacy with Mammoth WVH. This outstanding debut album is peppered with different styles of rock. While he might have a little bit of the Van Halen sound in a few of his songs, Wolfie displayed his vast knowledge in music. This debut has lived up to its expectations. Hard rock has a new hero, and his name is Wolfgang. This is simply the beginning for him. Eddie is flashing his famous smile as I am sure he is proud of his son. To Mammoth WVH, I salute you. Horns up!!!


Track Listing:

1. Mr. Ed
2. Horribly Right
3. Epiphany
4. Don’t Back Down
5. Resolve
6. You’ll Be The One
7. Mammoth
8. Circles
9. The Big Picture
10. Think It Over
11. You’re To Blame
12. Feel
13. Stone
14. Distance (Bonus Track)

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