Mammoth WVH – ‘Mammoth II’

Mammoth WVH, the project of former Van Halen member Wolfgang Van Halen and all-round torchbearer for modern rock, have returned with their second full-length offering, Mammoth II, following on from their self-titled debut in 2021.

The record is aptly titled as it follows on well from the 2021 debut, not throwing out the rule book but making a few tactical tweaks to ensure listeners don’t get complacent. The record is one of two halves, though, with side A being superior to side B. That’s not to say the latter is bad, Wolf just outdoes himself on side A.

Opener ‘Right?’ has drums like gunfire and some really slick guitarwork. The chorus is soaring, making sure the track is a proper rock album opener, while some unexpected decisions add an extra depth. ‘Like A Pastime’ follows, with more reserved verses but another huge chorus, preceded this time by guitars that sound like warning sirens. Wolf sounds similar vocally here to Buckcherry’s Josh Todd, which is no bad thing.

Another Celebration at the End of the World’ was obviously going to be the main single. It’s more by the book and accessible, pacey and fun. That being said, despite its predictability, it comes off well and would be the perfect set closer. ‘Miles Above Me’ follows and, with its The Darkness-esque opening riff and sing along chorus, this is a track for driving with the top down – a real summer anthem. ‘Take A Bow’ closes the side out and offers some respite by slowing the pace, though without losing the crunching guitars. It builds nicely to a climactic middle and has a wonderful, intricate solo, though overall lasts just that bit too long.

Side B already had a lot to live up to, and didn’t manage it off the bat with ‘Optimist’ which, with its irregular timing and haunting atmosphere, pushed the boat out creatively though didn’t come off as well as it could’ve. ‘I’m Alright’ gets us back on track though, with an AC/DC-esque opening riff. The addition of the keys was a nice touch, leading this to be a proper rock ‘n’ roll foot-tapping number.

Erase Me’ plays it safe. It’s a solid, fun song, poppier than anything else here and more accessible. It’s ‘Waiting’, though, where Wolf excels. The pretty, plucked notes, with the guitars wailing in the background, and soulful vocal delivery make for a real beauty – and one not without its bite. ‘Better That You’ closes the record out and is another foot-tapper with some more unexpected creative decisions, making the track sound more like Alter Bridge than anything else. It’s not bad, but once more the track lasts just a little too long, the fade-out dragging out.

Overall, Mammoth II is a very solid rock record. Despite thirty seconds or so needing to be shaved off each side’s closer, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome or have much in there that it doesn’t need. There’s a real attention to detail here, and the record is assembled and produced very, very well. Hats off to Mammoth WVH for conquering that tricky second album.