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Cosmic Egg (Deluxe 2CD Version)
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Wolfmothers
Cosmic Egg (Deluxe 2CD Version)
Label: Modular/Interscope
2009
Rock/Prog
Tom Stewart
www.wolfmother.com
N/A
Rating:
4.5 stars

It's not very often that an album from a modern-era rock band comes along and impresses the hell out of me. I can probably count on both hands the number of bands in the last 15 years or so that have sparked any interest in me beyond a good song here and there. The reality is that I think most of the music that has been produced in that time frame is predictable and lacking a lot of the important qualities that make great music great-sincerity, feeling, passion, balls, a certain depth to the songwriting, and most importantly, not being a re-hash of something trendy just to sell albums. You know the drill: a few bands hit the big-time and the labels sign 30 clones that are sound-a-likes or a combination of all of them in some way to cash in on the wave. I don't expect every new band to be completely original...everything listenable HAS been done already, and probably better the first time anyway, so if being original means combining 80s New Wave with 1930's Big Band music because it's never been done before, I'm not interested. But I do expect bands to take their influences and build something new out of the bricks they are using. WOLFMOTHER has done just that, fusing little bits of BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE,and what is known as "Stoner Rock" ala QUEENS OF THE STONEAGE, added a prog touch to everything, pumped up the melody to compliment the riffage, and have come up with a winning formula. There's been a glut of bands compared to SABBATH/ZEP and when I heard this band was as well, my reaction was to yawn and go "not another one!" ZEP riffs are the most over-used in the history of rock music, with SABBATH a close second, so I put this CD into my Ipod not expecting much to excite me... boy was I wrong.

WOLFMOTHER's debut self-titled CD came out in 2006 to rave reviews, with leadoff single "Woman" getting mega exposure on Rock Band II and TV adverts everywhere, racking up an impressive list of celeb fans like ALICE COOPER, SLASH, LARS ULRICH, THOM YORKE, and JIMMY PAGE himself. The band was on a roll, going 5x platinum in their homeland of Australia, selling half a million units in the States and UK as well. Starting out as a trio, the band soon lost 2 of its founding members, leaving singer/guitarist/songwriter Andrew Stockdale in the position of following up the strong debut without a band. Recruiting bassist Ian Peres, drummer Dave Atkins, and adding a 2nd guitarist in Aidan Nemeth, Stockdale has lost no momentum, in fact, comes storming back with a stronger, more sophisticated album in "Cosmic Egg.

Originally intended to be a double album, there are 2 versions of "Cosmic Egg" available, the deluxe 2 CD version having 4 extra songs than the standard version(this review is of the deluxe version). I'm not sure if this is the full double album as intended originally, or if there are more songs lurking around waiting to be born as B-sides or bonus tracks later on. I would recommend picking up the deluxe version....it's worth the few extra bucks, trust me.

"Cosmic Egg" is a bigger, deeper, more complex album than the debut, with more light and shade, more emphasis on melody, even approaching BEATLE-esque territory in spots, but we're talking psychedelic era BEATLES, not "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". Thanks to Alan Moulder(SMASHING PUMPKINS/NIN) the sound is massive and heavy, with a crisp production/mix that enables the listener to hear every nuance and buzzing guitar string played, which is a great thing. Stockdale's wailing high pitched vocals may be an acquired taste for some, sounding like a cross between ROBERT PLANT, OZZY, and 80s Power Metal dude LIZZY BORDEN in spots, but it's never overbearing and shrill, and he knows when to use it to full effect.

The standout tracks are in abundance here, including the ZEP-heavy "In The Morning", an epic tune if there ever was one, and my personal favorite on the album. We're not talking "Rock & Roll" ZEP here, I'm talking about the ZEP that created masterpieces of dynamics like "No Quarter", "The Rain Song", etc-compelling stuff. There's even a dash of JEFF BUCKLEY as well-passion, fire, depth, and it rocks. If WOLFMOTHER continues to explore these areas, things could get very interesting on future albums. "10,000 Feet" is a riffy, SOUNDGARDEN meets "Kashmir" rocker, "Cosmonaut" is "I Can See For Miles" from THE WHO channelled through PINK FLOYD, "In The Castle" starts off like something from RAINBOW's Rising album, then morphs into a Sabotage-era SABBATH sort of thing. The album is filled with vintage sounds from the past like fuzzed out guitars, wah wah pedal solos, hammond organ, etc. It's a retro sounding album but yet not really.....it retains an element of "modern rock" as well. "Violence Of The Sun" ends the album with another epic and a great way to close a very impressive album. Don't let the lead off single, "New Moon Rising" fool you. Although that's a cool catchy psychedelic rocker not too far removed from what you might hear from a band like MONSTER MAGNET or ZODIAC MINDWARP, it's really not indicative of what the rest of the album sounds like. If you like that song, you will like the rest of the album, but if you aren't crazy about it, there's so much more going on here that you will probably like this album if you are even remotely into classic rock on the heavier side....the DEEP PURPLE/RAINBOW/ZEPPELIN/SABBATH mindset. You can now add WOLFMOTHER to the list of fine bands like AC/DC, THE ANGELS(ANGEL CITY in the U.S.), ROSE TATTOO, & JET who all emerged from the land down under.


Band Lineup:
  • Andrew Stockdale Vocals/Guitars
  • Aiden Nemeth Rhythm Guitar
  • Ian Peres-Bass/Key
  • David Atkins-Drums

 

Track Listing:
  1. California Queen
  2. New Moon Rising
  3. White Feather
  4. Sundial
  5. In The Morning
  6. 10,000 Feet
  7. "Cosmic Egg"
  8. Far Away
  9. Cosmonaut
  10. Pilgrim
  11. Eyes Open
  12. Back Round
  13. In The Castle
  14. Caroline
  15. Phoenix
  16. Violence Of The Sun

 

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