Thursday, April 18, 2024

Review: Wolfmother – Victorious

The Grammy Award-winning Australian hard rock band Wolfmother first captured the attention of the record-buying public when they moved from their New South Wales base to Los Angeles in the spring of 2005 to rent out Cherokee — the famous Hollywood recording studio — home of recording artists such as Aerosmith and Korn.

After a while, the recording was diverted to Sound City and a first single was produced. The Wolfmother project was a three-piece with Andrew Stockdale (guitar soloist and lead voice) working closely with bassist and keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett.

By the time Led Zeppelin asked Wolfmother to perform at their ceremony to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006, the hardy trio of Australians had racked up shows at Fuji Rock, Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds , Download and Coachella. They were on the crest of a wave with a new album and a respectable single — ‘Joker & the Thief’.

But temporary band-splits and in-house bickering plagued the band since the abrupt departures of Ross and Heskett in 2008 — right through to the New Crown release in March 2014.

Victorious is the fourth studio album from the Australian band. It was recorded in Hollywood (at Henson Studios.) The release date is February 19th 2016.

Wolfmother frontman, Andrew Stockdale, wrote all the material for the album (he worked with award-winning producer Brendan O’Brien — Pearl Jam, AC/DC etc) and Stockdale also played all the guitars, including the bass guitar (the ‘new’ bassist Ian Peres, did not play guitar on the new album — but contributed keyboards.) Percussion was shared between Josh Freese (Devo and The Vandals) and Joey Waronker (session drummer for Beck and R.E.M. )

We listened to Victorious —

The title track ‘Victorious’ is two minutes of rattlesome antics concentrating on that oddly Geddy Lee type vocal and some buzz-riffs that sound like they were made on a cheap five-dollar wood drill wielded against the engine block of a Ford Falcon Hardtop … then (perhaps luckily) after the two minutes are over we get to the ‘Paranoid‘ section of the song and then all hell breaks loose. This is crazy mixed-up shit, mind, but it avoids being a dog’s dinner because it’s insanely hot and excitingly psycho-smooth.

‘Pretty Peggy’ sounds like a busking song. Acoustic strings are strummed and a box is right-foot kicked. Yes, this is a classic ballad with an appropriate lyrical content… (no doubt thieved from the local branch of Clinton Cards.) It is predictable and not very inspiring — but the catchy drone and the effective chorus are far from lame … even though, to be fair, it is hardly likely to make a grown man cry …

‘Gypsy Caravan’ has a an exciting rocket-propelled tipsy ring to it … and is exciting even before the electric-spiral voodoo voice looms in (sounding, for all the world, like Ozzy with his tail on fire.) This song also reminds us of early White Stripes ( “Seven Nation Army”) — which is not unexpected, given the limited access to musicians for this recording. However, this is a stonking good track and absolutely thrilling.

So, in conclusion — do you pine for 1970s inspired kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll?

Do you still seek stoner groove and large portions of unhealthy buzzability? Do you still think that Leaf Hound was the best band in the world? And that Paul Kossoff the greatest guitarist?

If the answer to all these questions is an exclamatory YES then you’ve come to the right place. Go and pre-order Victorious now. Go see the band too, when they tour Europe this Spring.

You will not be disappointed.

Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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