Scream for Me…
It’s a history lesson in how to do classical genres justice in the modern day. Vocalist Andrew Stockdale takes a breath and screams. From that moment on we’re plunged directly into the first of 13 blisteringly raw rock anthems.
In case you haven’t already guessed, we’re relistening to Wolfmother in 2016 – a shockingly quick 10 years after its international release.
And I’m just going to come right out and say it… this album really, really holds up.
That first powerful, animalistic cry alone is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention just as it did way back in 2006. You just know that for the next 55 minutes you’re in for one of the most breathtakingly energetic albums you’ll ever listen to.
That New Old Sound
Why does the Wolfmother’s self-titled album still have that effect? Why does it sound as fresh and exciting today as it did nearly a decade ago? Well, the answer is simple.
Wolfmother’s sound is old. Really old.
Wolfmother is a loving homage to the timeless classic rock sound of the ‘70s. There’s more than a bit of Led Zeppelin in there, Jethro Tull-eque influences and the unmistakable heavy guitar sound of Black Sabbath. Still, it would be unwise to suggest Wolfmother are simply a ‘best-of-the-70s’ tribute act.
Greater than the Sum of its Parts
Instead, Wolfmother managed to put their own unique spin on distinctly vintage style. What sets them aside from the so called “Led Zeppelin rip off bands” is the way the Australian rock trio have managed to bring in other, niche, rock-music genres to create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Amongst the aforementioned heavy blues inspired riffs, energetic drumming and primal screaming are carefully inserted hints of something else: stoner-rock melody, prog-rock electric organ, psychedelic guitar solos. It all comes together beautifully.
Where other bands may lose their sense of direction with so many musical influences, Andrew Stockdale & Co. knew exactly what they are doing in the studio. The album flows easily between epic, stadium filling noise-makers such as ‘Colossus’ to the funky, twiddly back-room ease of ‘Love Train’.
In fact, the only misstep is track 5. Ten years ago, ‘Apple Tree’ was my favourite on the album; with fast, punk like elements and an almost aggressive delivery, it marked a huge sidestep from the norm on this album. ‘Apple Tree’ was so different from everything else Wolfmother offered.
It’s ironic then that the same reason is exactly why ‘Apple Tree’ is by far the weakest on the album today. It’s the only time that Wolfmother’s genre-blending experimentation feels out of place and forced.
Modern Success Story
So it’s not perfect, but Wolfmother’s debut album is the rarest of musical beasts.
Where so many bands from the early 2000’s tried and failed, Wolfmother is a successful, modern day attempt to emulate the classic rock sound of the 70’s. And yet, Wolfmother stands apart from its peers by adding enough of its own contemporary styling and melodic twists that the album itself has proved impossible to recreate. Even Wolfmother’s own follow-up albums have felt pale in comparison.
Nobody has been able to copy the copy. A future classic indeed.