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| 11 June 2021 | Reply

Label: EX1 Records

Release Date: June 11, 2021

Rating: 100%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

It was inevitable that a kid with the talented DNA of Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli would wind up somewhere in the entertainment industry.  Wolfgang jumped into the fray playing bass with Van Halen as well as other projects like Mark Tremonti’s band.  Grabbing the reins and spearheading a solo release is a lofty endeavor for any artist, but when you are a musician and your last name is Van Halen, there is a different bar for you than most others.  Disc opener “Mr. Ed” kicks the door in and throws a guitar riff at you, followed by a thumping bass line and then the lead vocal that emits fun and emotion throughout the track.  This one gets the foot tapping and leaves you wanting more before the song has run its course.  The contagious (you will get this throughout the disc) feel of the song, from the vocals to the musical accompaniment, meets the bar established and raises it to be honest.  This is a killer lead track.  “Horribly Right” keeps the energy, intensity, and rock quotient of the disc opener alive without being a mirror image of the track.  The vocals are explosive and come across perfectly in the mix.  The chugging riffs and heavy bottom end swirl perfectly in the mix while the track readies for take off, only to be anchored by a great combination of harmonies in the vocals and smooth transitions between the verses, choruses, and bridge.  “Mammoth” has a slightly different guitar sound that blends some cool fretboard work and some solid rhythm playing.  The tandem sound adds depth to the eponymous track while the vocals ease up slightly on the pedal to help create a smoother feel that gives us a moment or two to enjoy the layers in Wolfgang’s vocals.  “Feel” is heavy handed, from the drums to the bass to the riff, and it is a welcome sound that supports the vocal.  The song picks up steam sonically as it moves through the verses and chorus without feeling rushed, giving the disc another diverse track that helps tie the other tracks together.

“Don’t Back Down” has an anthemic feel to it that permeates the guitars, vocals, and rhythm section.  The heavy drumming that intros each section is a nice touch that isn’t lost if you listen through the track and disc.  The layered vocals help build a wall of sound throughout the chorus.  The bridge has a cool riff that comes together with some fun bass and drum work.  The song comes at you and doesn’t let up.  “Resolve” gives us a listen and feel for a stripped back WVH and what he is capable of, even if just momentarily.  Once the verse drops and the rest of the instrumentation dials it up slightly, we still get to hear a different vocal sonically, as this tracks gives up HUGE harmonies, thick layers, and some notes from an upper register that fit not only the track, but Van Halen’s voice.  I love the textures used to pack the emotional delivery with a little extra punch.  “Circles” drags a different feel to the party sonically, but it works within the confines of the rest of the disc.  The ethereal feel of the vocal that drapes the musical accompaniment keeps things interesting, especially when some guitar parts are added to the mix during the transitions.  This has a contagious groove that crawls into your head and doesn’t let go for nearly four minutes.  “Think It Over” unfolds with a more pop-filled feel to it, but soon shifts to be one of the more catchy tracks on the release.  The texture of the opening vocal on the verse draws you in and once the song moves to the chorus, the hook grabs you and doesn’t let go.  This is a great song that rides the rail between rocker and power ballad… not an easy task.  This should be a killer add to any radio station and even better in a live situation.  “You’re To Blame” seems to have a heavy droning feel to it from the intro through to the last note, but the vocals and guitars give this a modern radio feel that moves across different rock genres, with a classic feel in the chorus and heavier textures in the verse that open up the sound and vibe of the track.

“Epiphany” draws on a heavier feel that keeps the tracks grounded, even when the guitar riffs and vocals seem to want to escape.  Wolfgang’s vocals on this one flow seamlessly across the mix, even when the guitars crank more in the swirl.  The solid bottom end keeps the song moving allowing the track to flourish and grow.  “You’ll Be The One” has a cool opening riff and rhythm section counterpart that come together and deliver a solid rocker that gets better as the song plays ‘on and on and on.’  The lead vocal is mature and cloaks the track with a rich sound that blends perfectly with the guitars, drums, and bass.  The guitar solo on the bridge is amazing.  While it would have been easier to fall into a fretboard frenzy (as some fans of his dad may expect) he plays the solo with passion and precision, resulting in one of the best solos I have heard in a while.  “The Big Picture” is a quick track that gives us another look and listen to the talent that is Wolfgang Van Halen.  The different vocal components and grooves add depth and dimension to the song and disc overall.  This one grabs my attention each time I listen through (but so do most of the others).  “Stone” is the longest track on the collection, clocking in at over 6:30.  The slower cadence of the track suits the droning riff buried in the mix and the more subdued vocal that dances across the musical foundation of guitars, bass, and drums.  The songs gains strength and volume without shifting gears rhythmically as the second verse arrives.  The vocal is a great listen and is packed with emotion both in lyric and delivery.  Disc closer and bonus track “Distance” was most of our introduction to this project and disc.  The emotional track dedicated to Eddie Van Halen is a beautiful tribute that was please any father.  The lyrics are heartfelt, the vocals pull at the heart as you can hear the connection between the two Van Halens in each word, note, and breath.  This disc is full of rockers of different textures, sounds, and energies, but it is full… packed full.  Make no mistake, the next great rocker has arrived and while his name cannot be ignored, more importantly, his music shouldn’t be.

Tracklisting: Mr. Ed – Horribly Right – Epiphany – Don’t Back Down – Resolve – You’ll Be The One – Mammoth – Circles – The Big Picture – Think It Over – You’re To Blame – Feel – Stone – Distance







Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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