Wolfmother - Victorious

by Mark Steele Rating:8 Release Date:2016-02-20

What a rollercoaster 10 years it has been for Sydney-hailed Andrew Stockdale and his classic rock/heavy metal project Wolfmother. Compared with some artists, Andrew has consistently maintained - despite many line-up changes- a potent virility to enthuse, which can be a hard graft within rock 'n' roll.

Currently aboard the Wolfmother-ship with Andrew is Ian Peres (bass/keys) and touring drummer Alex Carapetis. The album has had the knobs twiddled this time by none other than prime engineer Brendan O’Brien, whose resume reads as a who’s who of rock hallmarks (AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Killswitch Engage, The Gaslight Anthem, and more). 

So here they are with their fourth album, Victorious, which fires straight into ‘The Love That You Gave’ stoked with the familiar band’s signature clout. It looks at dealing with life’s adversities in a positive approach instead of being entangled by the toxic attitudes that we can easily surround ourselves in. The galloping anthem of the album title ‘Victorious’, is even a rousing call to arms battle cry into the heavens for a fictitious all vanquishing valkyrie. It has the unrelenting pace and style of Iron Maiden’s Phantom of the Opera. Shunting guitar riffs plus thumping locked down bass/drums under a fanfare by Andrew’s unmistakable soaring-into-the-upper-atmosphere eagle cries. In the chorus he bellows “She will be victorious/and she won’t get the battle loss/always-a mysterious/cause she will be victorious”.

It may see unintentional to compare Andrew’s confident melodic delivery on ‘Baroness’ to Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie. Although when given due thought and consideration, it is a rightful judgement, evidently a clue to possible further influences tucked away. The album seems to take a sudden, even uncharacteristic departure on ‘Pretty Peggy’ into a country pop ballad bathed in a Mumford and Sons type warm glow. It also looks to be suitable for a festival anthem with a sing-a-long friendly chorus, in an ‘Oh-Oh-Oh’ chanting style that has been almost done to death in the last couple of years by many artists. It is just not hard rock to be honest, and it may not bode well with some of the band’s faithful.

The straight 4/4 of ‘City Lights’ is a powered-up mid 1970’s later era, Foo Fighters-esque rock charger, with great overdriven guitar power riffs and relentless rhythm section. The textbook rock manoeuvres on ‘Simple Life’ was birthed to be a true stadium rock staple plenty of dynamic tension, bringing sharp stops and starts to keep the interest – check against bands like Whitesnake. Great vocal harmonies on ‘Best Of A Bad Situation’ that are bright and bubbly could be an open top convertible road trip savvy soundtrack. All in all it is a real retro treat that recalls groups such as Led Zeppelin – which goes without saying, The Eagles, Kansas.

It must be difficult to shake off the Black Sabbath tags when listening to Wolfmother’s material, but when you hear songs  like ‘Gypsy Caravan’ with it’s classic Tony Iommi riffs and Ozzy Ozbourn banshee vocalising, you can genuinely hear tracks like Warpigs in one hell of a stomping package. Also if that was not enough, then dive into ‘Happy Face’ with a Paranoid half-riff, then throw in also some 1970’s progressive rock cosmic keyboard work that would make Yes keysman, Rick Wakeman, smile with admiration.

The ending number ‘Eye Of The Beholder’ holds it down with thumping riffs from both guitar and organ and thundering drums in a captivating Deep Purple and Black Sabbath hybrid.

There is absolutely the need for a band like Wolfmother to continue making the super charged music they do.  This new album has a big sound production with a raw energetic stance. However, it would be further awesome to put in place a longstanding drummer to bring a much needed stability to the band. There is a hope that Andrew Stockdale can push deeper into a more progressive sound in the next 10 years, making the music an even more potent force to be reckoned with.

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