Cosmic Egg Review – RWS
Over the past 4 years, rumours of a new Wolfmother album have surfaced and been disregarded, some believable such as quotes from the front man, Andrew Stockdale, himself “the end of 2007″, “mid-2008″ “we’ve got 10 songs ready to go”, but as the months went by, no news of a new album surfaced and left many diehard Wolfmother fans saddened and depressed. Every now and then a new article would surface about new material, hype and anxiety built among the masses. Nobody knew what to expect except for a mammoth of an album. In interviews Andrew teased us, “it’s going to be heavier” he said “a lot more songs written like ‘Woman’”, but still just rumours and hype.
Then the unthinkable happened, the band split into two halves, Andrew on one side and Chris Ross and Myles Heskett on the other, the fans were warned this would happen, the messenger boys were shot down though, the fans didn’t want to face that possibility and shunned those who dared bring ill-fated news to the band they love so dearly!
Another delay and another excuse for the new album, some cried. Suddenly a strange planetary alignment with Venus, Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon caused a big cheesy grin to smile down upon and grace the Land Down Under and from it 3 new members were sent to join Andrew, the lone wolf, in the Wolfmother pack. But something else was stirring in the midst, as 2008 drew to a close something was rolling down the hill, it was too small and gaining too much momentum to see exactly what it was, but by the time 2009 was in full gear, we knew exactly what was rolling down the hill, it was an Egg, sent from the cosmos, from stars alignments planetary positions and fate. Not once did it stop rolling, when would it stop? October 13, we were told, but such a thing was moving and growing so big, there was no way to tell how big it would be in time for October 13. Word is, is that it was rolling so fast, the record label had to postpone the release of the new album for another week just to let them apply the brakes! October 23rd is the date the Australian’s had to look forward to. But is a giant egg really what Wolfmother fans were waiting nearly 5 years for?
Cosmic Egg has landed all across the world, it rivals some of the largest natural monoliths, and ancient pyramids, like the Teotihuacán’s Pyramid of the Sun, but if Wolfmother’s debut album is like the Great Pyramid of Giza and this Cosmic Egg has come in to rival that, how does it actually compare?
Wolfmother’s debut album was constructed by Egyptian wolves, and the Cosmic Egg was summoned by Aztec wolves, two different but equally majestic civilisations, although with different path-sets they both had the same goal, to construct a rock album of biblical proportions! And if you look at the details of how each album came to be, how each track rolls into the next to set-up a different mood or pace, you will come to realise that while both albums are different, they have a lot in common than one would realise.
Cosmic Egg is a quite heavier album than the debut, while that album did touch on some fast and heavy guitar riffs, it also moved into very mellow slow rhythmic ballads. Despite Cosmic Egg’s heavy tone, it doesn’t spare this for the original. Like great rock albums to ancient pyramids, without a great solid foundation the whole thing collapses in on itself. If you look at the foundation tracks of the debut album to the foundation tracks of Cosmic Egg, you start to see a familiar trend, a familiar movement of sound to set-up the epic scale of the rock album monument!
The first track off of Cosmic Egg is “California Queen”, a head-first dive into the rough waves of the album, with it’s distorted guitar solo and that melodic voice of Mr. Stockdale piercing through glass singing about his California Queen followed by a slow rhythmic pulse as the song heads into the hook of the song, this is the same sort of foundation Colossal (or Dimension) did for the self-titled album, both really loved songs from that album because of the way they introduce the album to the listener.
The next two songs, “New Moon Rising” and “White Feather” picks up the pace, puts a spring in the listeners feet because they get you moving and rocking out, the fast moving ballad of New Moon Rising has that catchy chorus that makes you want to turn the volume up as an excuse to sing along as loud as possible, much like “White Unicorn” did in the first album, and “White Feather” has that catchy riff and rhythm that makes those see past the generic ordinary lyrics about dancing and gets you grooving along to the song, just like “Woman” did, it had very ordinary lyrics, but was so catchy and movable, it was a positive hit!
“Sundial” is next and it takes a giant leap into the dark void of the album, one of the darkest songs off of the album, and one of the heaviest as well, and you can tell just by listening to the first 10 seconds of it, just like “Pyramid” you’re thrown off of this fast moving sled-ride and back into the molten lava pits of heavy rock.
“In The Morning” cools us off with a slow gentle moving ballad as it slowly builds to a great giant finale that has made you forget what you were doing and find yourself singing along with it’s catchy deja vu lyrics, and guess what? “Where the Eagles Have Been” did that for us too in the debut album!
Next up is “10,000 Feet” with its heavy repetitive guitar riffs mixed in with the fresh juicy vocals telling tales of a totalitarian tyrant, “Apple Tree” touched on this sort of style in the first album, but I believe “10,000 Feet” does it more justice by not using repetitive lyrics.
The title track “Cosmic Egg” follows afterwards, Andrew describes this song as a very instinctively written song, a song that just flows out from a single or multiple clashing emotions. It’s a very raw sounding song with very rough yet smoothly written lyrics. If I was to pinpoint which song from the debut that relates most to this song I would say “Tales”, while Cosmic Egg is very heavy and in your face, Tales is very calm and peaceful, but both have these very raw and smoothly moving lyrics throughout the song.
“Far Away” is a very distinctive track from the album, it uses a different keyboard that Andrew wrote the keys and chords for, it has a really great built up followed by a great finale, yet the lyrics seem pretty ordinary, they’re great to sing along to, but don’t offer much depth and versatility. Having said that though, “Vagabond” seems to be the fitting relation to this scrambled puzzle of an album, however Vagabond doesn’t draw back on the lyrics and actually has a story to tell, whereas Far Away kind of just reads out the tale’s synopsis.
“Pilgrim” is an interesting choice to have next, perhaps this is why “Cosmonaut” is played between Far Away and Pilgrim in the deluxe edition, I just get the wrong feeling whenever Far Away finishes and Pilgrim starts playing, that isn’t to say Pilgrim isn’t a song to enjoy, with harmonising vocals to catchy guitar riffs, you find yourself rocking out to this song in no time. Pilgrim was inspired by Dead Meadow’s “Everything’s Going On”, possibly similar to Joker and the Thief’s references to Bob Dylan’s (or Jimi Hendrix, depending which you think is more relevant) song “All Along The Watchtower”. Pilgrim and Joker both have that right-up-in-your-grill guitar riff that just gets stuck in your head and both with that balls-dropping heavy rock sound.
The climax of the album is reached by the end of the next song “In The Castle”, introducing as a Celtic rock ballad suddenly blacks off into this cascading array of riffs, soothing vocals and fantasy imagery inspired by the opening lyrics “Would you like to walk into the Kingdoms of the Sun?” you’re suddenly whisked away on the adventurous quest “to see where it begun”, it’s a no holds back song that redefines Wolfmother’s epic nature, but as the song carries on and you’re off in this magical adventure of guitar riffs and rhythm you don’t really realise how bland some of the lyrics really are “she’s sitting down, beneath the crowd, drinking my wine”, I mean, really? That’s just a criticism of the song, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic song, but I wonder, “Dimension” did that epic escapism before in the debut album, if you mixed up the lyrics and put it together for In The Castle, would you not get the most epically awesome Wolfmother song of all time?!
Cosmic Egg cruises into the final song with “Phoenix” as its transition, Andrew describes this song as being a great driving song, something to cruise along the highway at full volume and arm out the window and cool breeze whipping across your face, the verses are like that of Far Away, kind of average, but it makes up for it with the brilliant imaginative chorus “like a phoenix rising in the sky, we will run into the morning light” and absolutely fantastic breakdown. It’s a very simplistic yet very effective rock song, and the first time i heard as i played the entire album through it instantly reminded me of Witchcraft, a very simple rock song, yet so effective and catchy, whilst Phoenix doesn’t have a flute solo, I think it does really well on its own without it.
“Violence of the Sun” brings the album to a close in the most fantastical way possible, a slow melodic intro which builds up only to be brought back down to a slow rhythmic pulse halfway through and picks up again to bring the album to a fuzzy guitar amp distortion ending. The second half hardly contains any lyrics, just that hypnotic stoner rock riff and harmonising vocals that signals a triumphant return of Wolfmother and a closing to a great rock album. The hypnotising melody of the song with build up to a memorizing breakdown solo is reminiscent of that of “Mind’s Eye” and it’s wicked keyboard solo breakdown.
By all accounts Cosmic Egg is different from the debut, however it cannot be denied that there is much great similarities between both albums, they both have a certain foundation and flow between tracks, the set-up of the first album is why there were so many great songs from the album everyone has a different opinion of which track is their most favourite, in the same way Cosmic Egg has a similar flow that relates directly with the first album and makes certain tracks stick out more for different people, and that isn’t to say “if you like this song, you will like this song” but more of the way that that track fitted into its place in the album is similar to the way this other track fits into Cosmic Egg.
Cosmic Egg, in its entirety, is a lot heavier and maybe has less awe-inspiring guitar solos than the first album, not saying the guitar solos on Cosmic Egg aren’t wicked, they’re just not as grand. If I was to liken any past Wolfmother song to familiarise with Cosmic Egg’s heavier tone, I would look at songs like “Colossal” and “Pyramid”, if you liked the heaviness and bass of those songs, I would think you’d heavily enjoy this album.
Cosmic Egg also comes in a deluxe edition with four extra bonus tracks, “Cosmonaut”, “Eyes Open”, “Back Round” and “Caroline”. Cosmonaut is a really Beatles influenced tune and although a ‘bonus track’ is probably the only track that has anything to do with anything ‘cosmic’, it’s a really well written song and well balanced all the way through. “Eye’s Open” is another song that builds up to a hypnotic and epic hook by the end of the song that has a repeating lyric that just sticks in your membrane “I’ve been looking for so long and now my eyes are open” that just blends with the finale of the song and perfects the song as a whole. Back Round isn’t a new song, it was released several months even before New Moon Rising was released as a single, but it’s inclusion into the deluxe bonus tracks isn’t forgotten and works seamlessly well as a follow-on track to “Eye’s Open” with its Celtic rock guitar and iron maiden stampeding drumbeat. Although I haven’t seen a standard edition sold in any music shop, the Deluxe Edition completes and perfects the overall flow of the album and I would recommend it more than the standard edition.
All in all, Cosmic Egg is definitely a step forward in the right direction for the band from reaching the top and hitting rock bottom, this album defies all notions that Wolfmother have ‘lost their edge’, Cosmic Egg has a lot to offer, for some it may take longer to realise but for others it’s greatness comes easily. If any criticism could be laid down upon for the band I would say more tempo changing songs and less repetitive lyrics and chords, but otherwise a grand album. Expect more great things from Wolfmother in the future!