New Aussie band Wolfmother are on the rise right now, with their retro hard-rock blend that is equal parts Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Maybe a bit of Deep Purple thrown in for good measure. With influences like that, this band has a lot to live up to.
But in their self-titled debut album, Wolfmother proves that they are more than the sum of their influences. Their hard rock is murky, raw, and energetic, the sort of thing you can dance or mosh to, and their slower songs are still sharp and wild around the edges. This is definitely one for the fans of good rock’n'roll.
It opens with an earsplitting yell, and if you’re not expecting it, it’s sure to make you sit up and listen. It’s followed by a crunchy, murky mass of hard rock with an otherworldly edge. After getting lost in the desert, “I had to write something down/And I found myself alone, and then I let go of everything/Into another DI-MEN-SION!” frontman Andrew Stockdale hollers.
Things steady out in the songs that follow, with Wolfmother exploring different kinds of hard rock. Yes, every kind I can think of. They dip into everything from steady bass grinds to hard psychedelica to catchy fuzz. And as they explore different sounds and styles, they manage to keep the same rough, wild edge in every song.
Wolfmother even dabble in quieter music in “Mind’s Eye,” a panoramic rock number with stretches of quiet, almost pretty music, and the closer almost sounds like a folk song at times. This band is in great form in these songs, which show the complexity of their music, but it sounds like the musicians are barely restraining themselves.
There’s something almost larger-than-life about Wolfmother’s sound, with their wild lyrics and wilder musical skills. That quality is the sign of a really good rock band. They have energy, they have skill, and while their skill leans on that whole Zeppelin/Sabbath sound, they sound fresh.
They also sound loud. These guys sound like they’re testing the waters at times, which is the one drawback of “Wolfmother.” But even in their weaker moments, they show that they have musical expertise in murky bass, sizzling guitar, and some wicked percussion.
Stockdale’s voice is one that takes getting used to. At first he sounds thin and a bit nasal, and his vocalizing is kind of melodramatic. But as the album goes on, his voice will start to grow on you. He can really belt out those songs (“WITCH… CRAAAFT!”), but he can also sing in a more restrained manner. “If you listen to the sound within your mind/you may find the answer glowing in the tide…”
In their rough, raw debut albun, Wolfmother demonstrates that it deserves all the attention it’s getting in the rock press. It’s “colossal!”