Album review: Mammoth WVH – Mammoth II

Uber-talented guitarist and frontman Wolfgang Van Halen redefines the notion of ‘big’ on Mammoth WVH’s massive-sounding follow-up album…

Album review: Mammoth WVH – Mammoth II
Steve Beebee

What’s not in doubt about Wolfgang Van Halen is his copious talent – so much talent that he barely knows what to do with it. He played all the instruments on Mammoth WVH's 2021 debut, and repeats the trick again here, with the depth of his musical mastery writ no less large. His dad, the legendary Eddie Van Halen, pretty much revolutionised what people thought could be done with a guitar – a type of perma-grinning, MTV-era Hendrix – and while it’d be unfair to compare Wolfie to his old man (different times, different circumstances), what’s not in doubt is that the Van Halens basically bagged all the talent genes.

These are insanely tight, bodybuilder-sculpted rock songs, and while the mainman dresses each in his six-string wizardry it’s all commendably contained. Another Celebration At The End Of The World and Optimist are full of energy and applied imagination, but at no point do they or any of these 10 tracks become self-indulgent. It’s the production, led by Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette at Van Halen’s famous 5150 studios, that makes the music sound bigger than a stampeding herd of elephants. The next thing is always slightly bigger than the last very big thing.

Miles Above Me and Erase Me are among the superior songs, and while the immense production cannot help but impress, it also stifles those hooks from hitting any emotional buttons – humanity is surrendered in favour of asteroid-crater impact. There’s no shortage of creativity – most of final track Better Than You sounds like Sgt Pepper-era Beatles transfused with modern heavy rock blood and played through AC/DC’s wall of amps.

Arguably, Mammoth WVH’s music is so big that its best ideas get lost in the echo of its heavy footsteps, but Mammoth II remains, inarguably, a worthy follow-up to that equally muscular debut.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Foo Fighters, Extreme, Alter Bridge

Mammoth II is released on August 4 via BMG

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