Posted by: Phil | November 12, 2009

Wolfmother’s Cosmic Egg is 40 Years Rotten

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Wolfmother at the 9:30 Club. Picture taken by wumpiewoo.

Andrew Stockdale is trying to sell you the 1970s all over again, except this time without the ploy of some underlying originality.

Wolfmother's sophomore album, Cosmic Egg.

Cosmic Egg does absolutely nothing to build on what was a fun, if somewhat derivative album in Wolfmother’s first self-titled full-length. Not only does it strip away the sense of pop-sensible garage rock that made their debut interesting to so many people, it goes so far in the other direction that you could name the artist, time period and sometimes even the album where their songs originated from.

A lot of fuss has been made over 2/3s of Wolfmother leaving after their tour in 2008. Mainly, what direction Stockdale, the lead guitarist and vocalist, would take the band in after bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett left. Rather than allow his new band members, guitarist Aidan Nemeth, bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres and drummer Dave Atkins, to explore a new dynamic in being a four piece band, he uses the same conventions as all his major influences by diluting the imagery from ’70s heavy metal.

Every song sounds like they took the same basic ideas from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and reinvented them into smug rhymes that paint Stockdale as less of a narcissist and more of a willing exploiter of what was already popular. Even the tones that Stockdale uses when belting out his soulless lyrics sound like he was smiling behind the microphone knowing exactly how many albums he was going to sell. This is one of the most glaring flaws with this album. Even when the band had its original lineup, Stockdale’s lyrics were steeped deep in the ’70s sexual revolution and heavy metal’s story-oriented psychedelics. However, he dives so far deep into the well that has already been dug; he comes up with bottom feeder lyrics like “White Feather’s” pre-pubescent attempt to create subtle sexuality.

“Dancing feet, I compete now with your dancing feet now.
Some people say, they can’t compare, when you’re not over here your there.
You see coz girl, she say oh no, another boy would you like to know”

Not to mention the emotionless imagery painted by his attempts to equal the metaphorical landscapes that Ozzy created. Rather than use lyrics that have specific meaning or reference to anything with real world grounding, Stockdale’s lyrics are as vague as you can be without actually reaching any actual meaning behind them. “10,000 Feet” uses clichés from all over the ’60s and ’70s to create a colorless history lesson devoid of any actual description as to what revolution he’s talking about or if he’s simply babbling about revolution in general.

“They came from ten thousand feet, on a possibility street
It was the law of the land, turned castles into the sand”

The saddest part is that a lot of these songs have drips of substance. “Sundial” might have been a song that appeared on Black Sabbath record if they hadn’t already produced work that was at least five times better. “In the Morning” sounds like a Houses of the Holy-esque ballad that would’ve thrown on as an honorable b-side if Physical Graffiti wasn’t the stellar double album that it ended up being. However, with the context of time and relevance surrounding the album, it’s hard to part yourself and look at it in an utterly subjective light. It’s as if Stockdale expects people to view everything inside of a bubble completely shut off from the rest of the world and its progression.

The worst part is that the illusion of originality is completely stripped away with the way the album is mixed. It sounds as if they went to an audio forum and asked for amplifier settings to get the exact distortion and level settings that Sabbath used when recording Paranoid in order to give those heavier songs exactly the same punch that threw them into the spotlight in 1971. “10,000 Feet” is the biggest perpetrator of this particular crime as you can almost hear Tony Iommi in the background shouting “Mutiny!” Not to mention “Eyes Open” and “Back Castle” sound like songs that came out of Led Zeppelin’s IV with some electric guitar choruses. Hell, “Back Castle” sounds like Stockdale was just introduced to “Stairway to Heaven” recently and he decided to give the whole “epic ballad” thing a try.

There was one point when listening to this record that completely sums up my feelings. While listening to “In the Morning,” the subdued ballad of the album, I thought “If I wanted to listen to this kind of music, couldn’t I just throw on Led Zeppelin’s III?” And I did. I suggest you do the same.

Cosmic Egg gets 1 “Castle of Sand” out of 5.

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Responses

  1. Yah. This album is a cosmic piece of shit. I had high hopes for this band before 2/3 of them quit the band. Stockdale is an asshole for thinking he could repackage great 70’s rock as his own and somehow turn a profit. Aussie douchebag. I think John Bonham just rolled over in his grave.

  2. You ARE A COMPLETE JACKASS….not only was the production of “Cosmic Egg” much better than Wolfmather’s Debut album, It was also much deeper, lyrically stronger, and musically fantastic….You could only dream to be so talented! Why dont you give up your career as a critic, and just go hang yourself? If you can’t hear the raw talent and wonderful scope of the music on “Cosmic Egg” you must be without a pulse already anyway!

  3. This was most definitely a biased review. However, there are some points made about vauge lyrics, and Stockdale has already responded to that, and he said he knows it’s meaningless, but it’s fun and there’s nothing bad coming from it. On the note of blatantly ripping of Sabbath and Zep, once again, I call bias. If someone writes a ballad, and you automatically assume they only did so because Zep wrote one decades ago, then you need to pull your head out of your ass. Most of these songs sound nothing like Sabbath or Zep, and there were a lot of bands with the same sound in the 70s and 80s.

  4. ^FANBOY ALERT^
    i love wolfmother but i agree their second album is worse than the first and very clicheedriven. i just happen to like those clichees and the fact that wolfmother sounds like led zeppelin with more distortion 🙂 still i believe the writer of this review is entitled to his own opinion

    • 😛 maybe a little. each generation needs something new, and since zeppelin isn’t touring anymore, gotta go see somebody fun live


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