A Cock Called Zep, a Hen Named Sabbath
Listening to a Wolfmother record really feels like stepping into a time machine. Their brand of gritty rock is reminiscent of another era, and not just sounds of the 1970s like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. They also sound like Soundgarden, Yes, Rush, and to bring us up to the new millennium they call on The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age. That’s not to say they don’t have their own sound, it’s just heavily influenced by all of the above. With their self-titled debut in 2006, the Australian trio established themselves as a force with which to be reckoned. Still, that eponymous effort doesn’t feel as original as their latest album Cosmic Egg.
On Wolfmother it was as if the Aussies immersed themselves in the psychedelic hard rock of ages ago and just churned out replicas like “Joker and the Thief.” Cosmic Egg is Andrew Stockdale’s baby, the frontman and guitarist replacing the original rhythm section with a new one here. Two strong openers greet the listener, the mystic “California Queen” and “New Moon Rising.” The modern-rock stomp of “White Feather” is a keeper, with palpable tinges of R&B over slower, funkier riffing and drumming, all hints that Wolfmother are much more than meets the eye.
Keyboards are welcome additions to songs like “Sundial,” while a few slower songs like “Far and Away” and “In the Morning” recall cheesy 1980s hair bands like Mr. Big and Nelson (but in the best ways possible). Stockdale’s voice sometimes struggles to reach above the fuzz of the guitars, the thrash of the drums, and soaring Deep Purple organ parts, but that could just be a function of his high-pitched delivery.
There’s definitely something a little weird about these guys; even the song titles feel plucked from sci-fi novels, which we’ve seen before on, say, Zep’s The Song Remains the Same. Yet Wolfmother take dorky elements from the past, make them rock hard, and bring them into the 2000s a million times better than acts like Coheed & Cambria do. It should be interesting to see what these metal-fantasy Aussies come up with next.