Having come off the impressive 2021 debut album Mammoth WVH, which included a Grammy nod for Best Song “Distance” in 2022, Mammoth WVH returns in 2023 with the sophomore release Mammoth II. The project of Wolfgang Van Halen (son of the late, great Eddie Van Halen), he once again puts together an album with great melodies and hooks reminiscent of the first album, all while enhancing his transitions and solo guitar work. Furthermore, the fact that Wolfgang performs all the vocals and instruments for both of these first two efforts himself, is not only impressive, but the manner in which he puts it all together is remarkable.
An album which Wolfgang began working on back in September of 2022, the material that became Mammoth II was released on August 4th through BMG. Once again teaming with well-known, accomplished Rock Producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette, the new album is slightly shorter than Mammoth WVH; this time clocking in with 11 songs this time around that lasts just under 50 minutes.
That said, Mammoth II starts with the awesome guitar opening featured on “Right?.” Setting the stage for the rest of a great Hard Rock album, “Like a Pastime” continues with strong riffs that are matched with a very cool melodic verse right before the grand conclusion. This is while the album’s lead single, “Another Celebration at the End of the World,” follows as a straightforward hard rocking tune, with, yes, more fantastic guitar work throughout.
Moving forward, “Miles Above Me” brings a mid-tempo sound which is a nice laid-back inclusion. Which takes us track five, “Take a Bow,” the most ambitious of the collection, coming in at just under 7 minutes. Rather epic, the guitar intro is eerily awesome leading into a mellow first verse and sweet bridge which flows into the extremely catchy chorus. However, what really catches your ears and makes this one of the standout of the album is the lengthy guitar solo that you just cannot stop listening to.
Later on, “Optimist” and “I’m Alright” both continue to maintain the combination of melodic vocals and surging guitar work consistent throughout. On the other side of the spectrum, “Erase Me” has a nice calm intro which develops into catchy soaring vocals and mind-blowing guitars leaving you wanting more. Thereafter “Waiting” comes in as a great ballad-laden song that gives the album a softness without losing its overall fire. Leaving us with the finale, “Better Than You,” finishing everything off on a high note infused with Wolfgang’s style and charm.
Overall, Mammoth II has many similarities to the first album, yet fully shows the progression of Wolfgang Van Halen’s abilities to improve on his unique sound. Wrapping up a busy 2023 with this album release and touring, Mammoth WVH will now return to the road again in 2024. Out their supporting Mammoth II even further in the coming year, Wolfgang Van Halen and his touring band (Guitarist Frank Sidoris, Guitarist Jon Jourdan, Bassist Ronnie Ficarro, and Drummer Garrett Whitlock) will kick off the new run with an American leg in February, before heading over the Europe come March. An extensive amount of touring that will extend through most of 2024, amidst it all they will share the stage with Nita Strauss, Intervals, but will also be supporting Metallica, Slash and Foo Fighters.
Guaranteed to be an amazing 2024, Mammoth II is a listen worth your time because the talent and abilities of Wolfgang Van Halen have come fully apparent. Eager for any future releases, Cryptic Rock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.