I waited a while before writing this review, mainly because I believe you can’t really judge an album until you listen to it multiple times and let it sink in.
First and foremost, Wolfmother is constantly berated as a band that just rips off classic rock. Supporters say no way, haters say yes it’s obvious, and I really could care less. Nearly all music is just ripping off the music that came before it. Modern “rock” is derivative of classic rock, heavy metal in all its forms owes its debt to early Black Sabbath, rap is the successor of early hip-hop (also using samples of classic rock), pop and dance is highly influenced by Motown and new wave, and country is straight from folk rock. My favorite music is classic rock, and even I know that wouldn’t exist without the blues of the 1930’s. What I’m getting at is the line between “influenced by” and “ripping off” doesn’t really exist because you can argue either way and you’d be right. Personally I think that as long as the music grabs you in some way, it’s doing its job and that’s all that matters.
That’s enough of that. Onto the review!
Wolfmother’s self-titled debut was excellent, with some great riffs and epic wailing vocals. It was like an album straight out of the late 60’s/early 70’s, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer. While this drew a lot of criticism, I loved nearly every song on the album except for “Apple Tree”, which struck me as entirely uncharacteristic of the band’s sound. I must also note that the album art is excellent, reminding me of a Pink Floyd album cover infused with heavy metal. So after a smashing start, could Wolfmother continue to amaze me with their second album?
I respond with a resounding yes! Cosmic Egg is just as good, if not better than their debut. Interestingly (and thankfully), it keeps a similar sound and maintains the same level of quality despite the line-up change. Great riffs continue to permeate the album, and Andrew Stockdale’s vocal work continues to shatter glass with its power. There are some nice mellow tracks that really elevate the album, as well as a few melancholy ones. I got the Deluxe Edition and, as expected, the album art is once again beautifully chosen. So let’s break the Deluxe Edition down, track by track:
1. “California Queen” – A great opener to the album, with a catchy, distorted riff and fast tempo.
2. “New Moon Rising” – Another awesome riff, with some great drumming and epic crescendo wails.
3. “White Feather” – This track is more sporadic and not as riff driven, with a nice mellow feel and some good guitar work. Interestingly, it reminds me of the similarly titled “White Unicorn” from their debut.
4. “Sundial” – One of my favorite tracks. An utterly excellent riff, nifty keyboard work and Bonham-esque drumming drive this track, resulting in one helluva song.
5. “In The Morning” – One of the slower tracks on the album, with smooth vocals and soothing guitar. This track has an epic feel, building a slow crescendo beautifully.
6. “10,000 Feet” – A very Black Sabbath sounding track, especially the riffs and drumming. The vocals harmonize perfectly with the guitar, creating an magnificent effect. I think this should’ve been one of their singles.
7. “Cosmic Egg” – Catchy, riff driven track that has some fantastic drumming.
8. “Far Away” – Another one of my favorite tracks. Slow and melodic with smooth vocals and some great acoustic guitar parts. I also love the guitar solo.
9. “Cosmonaut” – Droning vocals and guitar dominate this track, enhanced by an excellent build-up.
10. “Pilgrim” – This track reminds me of “Apple Tree” crossed with “Witchcraft”, from the first album. It features a particularly gnarly guitar riff.
11. “Eyes Open” – A very somber track, with great guitar work.
12. “Back Round” – Probably the most raw sounding track on the album, with excellent vocal work.
13. “In The Castle” – Another mellow track that builds into an sonic explosion of incredible proportions.
14. “Caroline” – Melancholy track with a very bluesy feel.
15. “Phoenix” – A more upbeat track with a great tempo and piercing vocals.
16. “Violence Of The Sun” – One of the best tracks on the album, and an extraordinary closing track. Everything about this track is top-notch, especially the vocal work. It reminds me of Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks”.
To sum it up, if you liked their first album, I highly recommend this one. If you didn’t, I’d still give “Far Away”, “Caroline” and “Violence Of The Sun” a listen; you might like them. The Deluxe Edition has four extra tracks, and I think they’re worth it, however the best tracks from the album are all on the standard edition. So all in all, a great sophomore effort that’s worth checking out!