May 27, 2020

‘Cosmic Egg’ hatches rock

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The Australia-based band Wolfmother adds new members and turns up the volume on their second album.

The word cosmic implies something otherworldly and rightfully so as the volume of Wolfmother’s second album, “Cosmic Egg,” climbs up the decibel scale and toward the heavens.

In other words, it’s really loud.

“Cosmic Egg” is the first album for Wolfmother’s new quartet lineup of Andrew Stockdale (vocals/guitar), Ian Peres (bass/keys), Aidan Nemeth (guitar) and Dave Atkins (drums). After only one album and a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007, the original lineup split in August 2008 when the keyboard/bassist and drummer left the band. Stockdale, the only original member, recruited all new musicians, adding another guitarist to the band.

The loudness, however, doesn’t mask the futile lyrics on the album. The words of the songs rarely achieve or accomplish anything, except providing necessary words to complement the guitar riffs that are at the forefront of every song.

The title track’s chorus has Stockdale singing “I’ve given you all of the seasons / Running through the night and day / I’m going out of my mind since I’ve seen you / Tell me how I got to live this way,” which really makes no sense at all.

The essence of Wolfmother, though, is not so much about the lyrics, but how they’re sung.

Stockdale, half-singing, half-screeching, gives each song everything he has. “Like a phoenix rising in the sky / We will run into the morning light” Stockdale shrieks and screams on “Phoenix” to the point most vocalists wouldn’t even dare.

It’s clear that 1970s rock music left a mark on the members of Wolfmother. The band sounds like the direct descendants of Black Sabbath, as Stockdale’s screechy vocals could take first prize in an Ozzy Osbourne sound-alike contest. Even the album artwork of a levitating egg about to hatch under ominously gray skies looks like the next installment in the saga of Black Sabbath album covers depicting hellish scenes of skeletons, smoking angels and demonic babies.

The album is heavy on the guitar solos, with chord progressions begging to be featured in the next version of “Guitar Hero.” The ear-piercing solos and warping guitar sounds of “Sundial” and “Pilgrim” match Stockdale’s intensity, making the silence stunning when the tracks are over.

“New Moon Rising,” the first single and second track on the album with its infectious and catchy guitar riffs, has all of the makings of an air guitar anthem to play at stoplights. Atkins keeps the consistent percussive beat while Stockdale’s shrill vocals accompany the track, slowly incorporating the sounds of an electric guitar until it’s unleashed in the chorus.

On “Cosmic Egg,” Wolfmother isn’t concerned with evocative lyrics that tell stories or breaking ground with a new genre. The goal of the band, illustrated by the sheer decibels of the album, is to make head-banging rock anthems, which it succeeds at.

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