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Wolfmother:: S/T (Album Review)

It’s been 30 years since Punk Rock, and to celebrate, there have been myriad articles from those who were there about how important it all was. One of the things that is almost universally agreed upon is that Punk helped to put the final boot into the ribs of the old ‘Dinosaur Rock’ bands, rendering them obsolete overnight and ensuring that they only ever had a mocking footnote in the history of rock music.

Now, 30 years later Punk has become little more than a cheap moniker to add to anything that sounds remotely DIY, and although the original ethics remain in certain quarters (DC’s Dischord or KRS for example) Punk itself is beginning to get so old, it has forgotten what it is. It is suffering from musical Alzheimers.

Meanwhile, in some distant part of the globe an eccentric Billionaire has spent the last few years extracting DNA from samples of Dinosaur Rock bands (many were trapped onstage in glistening pods that refused to open apparently). Taking these samples new bands have been cloned and the sound of Dinosaur Rock, a sound many thought we would never hear again has begin to roar once more like an echo through the ages.

You might have noticed it in the much raved about proggy leanings of Secret Machines, or perhaps Justin Hawkins Mercurial hooting caught your ear. Now Wolfmother have taken their first steps in this new world and you are sure to hear more from them.

The album opens up with Dimension, a song that shamelessly bridges the gap between Black Sabbath and Zeppelin. It rips away with a forceful blues riff whilst vocalist/guitarist Andrew Stockdale’s vocals conjure up the ghosts of Ozzy and Robert Plant in their heydays. White Unicorn takes the opening few chords of Zeppelin’s Ramble On and stuffs them in an overhead compartment and takes them on voyage through the clouds. Guitar feedback edges into the mix clearing the way for the song to open up into a thunderous roar full of rampant guitar and drums being thrashed like the wings of a pterodactyl. It’s reassuringly primal stuff.

Apple Tree takes the band even further back into the blues roots of rock history. It is a particularly aggressive charge through a twitchy bluesy garage riff, which calls to mind The White Stripes or John Spencer Blue Explosion. Except that Apple Tree has a mid-section that comes straight from the Sabbath songbook of doom riffs.

This is an album that has songs with names like Colossal (which sounds colossal, as you might expect), Pyramid (which also sounds colossal, but the name Colossal was already taken by another song), and Where Eagles Have Been, which are all as bloated and thrilling as their titles suggest them to be. There’s duelling guitars, raucous drumming, ‘rock’ song titles, blues influences, prog keyboards, the odd dodgy rhyme and some great influences, and yet Wolfmother don’t sound like a tongue in cheek joke, or as ridiculous as you might expect.

This is down to them writing songs that sound as if they were carved into the rock of the earth when the Big Bang went bang. This is purely primal, instinctive rock and as derivative as it may be, it still sounds awash with originality. (Sam Shepherd)