REVIEW – The unmistakable sound of Andrew Stockdale’s voice and guitar, along with his band Wolfmother, has returned with their 4th “proper” album called “Victorious” was released on February 19, 2016 on the UMe label. Since 2009, the core team of Stockdale and bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres have seen their share of bandmates come and go, including the latest, drummer Vin Steele, they opted for guest drummers Josh Freese and Joey Waronker, with no studio love for touring drummer Alex Carapetis.
I’ve read how others have described Wolfmother’s history as “a mess”. Perhaps, but Pete Townshend was a mess in the 70s, and he gave us some of the best music ever. Eric Clapton was an absolute mess in the early 70s, but also gave us unforgettable music. Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, among several others, all messes in one way or another at some point in their careers, yet continued to give us the best they ever had to offer. I’ve learned the hard way not to discount musicians just because they can’t keep a solid lineup. Andrew Stockdale absolutely fits the mold of the songwriting rock musician that knows exactly what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it. Again, the hard-knocking bandleaders that push their band hard usually output great stuff, but almost always at a price.
But those riffs! Making Tony Iommi proud, “Victorious” is chock-full of Marshall stack and Gibson humbucker tastiness. Flavored by Peres’ keyboard prowess, the Sabbath-meets-Purple formula is still in place, and for what it’s worth, still works. Stockdale’s soaring vocals, and inevitable Robert Plant comparisons definitely come to play here, although, the vocals are heavily layered with several overdubs, giving his sound a great dynamic. This album rocks when it wants to; the lead-off track, “Love That You Give”, and the title track are by far the heaviest tracks, albeit laced with nice, catchy melodies and choral arrangements and complementary harmonies. “Pretty Peggy”, being a nice singalong, sounds very borrowed from “Some Nights” band, fun. I’m also noticing a continuing trend; short albums. “Victorious” wraps it up at just under thirty-six minutes, giving us the one-two punch and then leaving us wanting more.
The legacy of original Wolfmother members, Myles Heskett and Chris Ross, will probably always loom over Stockdale’s head as calls for reunions are rampant, especially as of late. Whether anything comes of it remains to be seen, however, the timing would be impeccable to combine the current team with the classic team, creating an unstoppable force. Pipe dreams, maybe, but one can still dream.
01. Victorious 4:25
02. Baroness 3:16
03. Pretty Peggy 3:49
04. City Lights 3:51
05. Simple Life 3:13
06. Best of a Bad Situation 3:08
07. Gypsy Caravan 3:35
08. Happy Face 3:31
09. Eye Of The Beholder 4:00
Total time: 35:20