Reviews

This topic has 32 voices, contains 90 replies, and was last updated by  thismusicsux 320 days ago.

February 6, 2012 at 8:07 am Quote #3721

ron
(8929)

Van Halen delivers the ‘Truth’
By Jed Gottlieb
Monday, February 6, 2012

Van Halen “A Different Kind of Truth” (Interscope): A-

If you were born during the Johnson or Nixon administrations and love rock ‘n’ roll bombast, this is probably the only 2012 release you care about. Knowing that, I’ll cut to it: You will not be disappointed.

“A Different Kind of Truth,” out tomorrow, is mostly awesome.

Many of the tunes on the band’s first album with David Lee Roth since “1984″ are based on outtakes and sketches from Van Halen’s Diamond Dave-fronted heyday — “She’s the Woman” dates back to a ’76 demo. Some say this is lazy; I say why write new stuff when the old stuff is so great?

The album’s one problem is Roth and the Van Halens (Eddie on guitar, Alex on drums, Eddie’s son Wolfie on bass) are too excited to be back together. They rush when they should relax.

Alex abandons nuance for hyper-aggression too often. A few riffs ring with dumb nu-metal overtones. The production compresses and constrains Eddie’s lighting-quick hammer-ons and tremolo dive bombs. But these are piddly complaints.

This is a new Van Halen album! Something no one — not Dave, Eddie or Sammy Hagar — thought would ever happen. Dub this disc to an eight-track, put it on in your ’82 Chevy G20 van and it will sound like heaven.

It’s packed with Roth’s ridiculous rock-star chatter and mid-song narrations. The break in “As Is” (“It’s not who you squeeze but who returns to once again squeeze you, no doubt/Love ‘em all I says and let Cupid sort ‘em out”) could be straight out of “Women & Children First.”

Eddie’s fleet fingers rip out plenty of face-melting solos. There are also winking homages to guys who ripped off the guitarist 30 years ago — high-speed tapping that recalls Randy Rhodes, slippery Steve Vai squeals and amped-up Yngwie Malmsteen arpeggios.

Purists will hate on Wolfie (whose harmonies aren’t quite up to original bassist Michael Anthony’s). Other than that, the haters have nothing. Park the van, crack into a six-pack and rock like you did when Roth wore nothing but leather chaps.


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 8:11 am Quote #3722

ron
(8929)

Album Review: Van Halen — A Different Kind of Truth
By Michael Roffman on February 6th, 2012

Our rating:
***½ / 5

“Cool” gets thrown around a lot, but most critics and fans alike wouldn’t ascribe the word to Van Halen — not even frontman David Lee Roth. In a recent interview with The Toronto Sun, Diamond Dave admitted, “We were never cool. Even when we were happening, even when we were the flavour of the week the first time, we weren’t cool. John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever were cool. And across the street, The Sex Pistols and The Clash were cool. We were just kind of an island.” That’s some pretty bold insight coming from a guy that’s renown for his sparkling spandex, beach-stained, sprawling hair, and cheeky sailor outfits. (Just Google him.) Truth be told, he’s not just being modest or self-deprecating, he’s right on the money. From its inception, Van Halen has always been the proper escape for adolescent males. They trademarked a sound that essentially offered the greatest party anyone could find. They were many a teen’s Friday night fiesta, even if said teen never left the house. You didn’t have to “get” the spandex, but you could soak up Eddie Van Halen’s convertible cruising riffage or Roth’s over-the-top hysteria for all things fun ‘n’ games. To counteract Jacobean poet John Donne, Van Halen were an island, all entirely of itself. Forty years later, we’re still apt to take an Oceanic flight over its rough terrain. What? No Lost fans?

A Different Kind of Truth is Van Halen’s twelfth studio album, but only their seventh effort with Roth. It’s been nearly 30 years since they issued their last Roth-led album (1984) to the world, and since then, the band has seen its routine shake ups. They continued their success with Roth follow-up Sammy Hagar, and when that spoiled after 11 years together, they tried their hand with Hagar follow-up Gary Cherone (of Extreme), which ultimately resulted in their dicey, critically-panned eleventh LP, Van Halen III. Although its lead single “Without You” charted at #1 for six weeks, the band has largely ignored Van Halen III, even forgoing any of its tracks for later greatest hits releases. So, in many ways, A Different Kind of Truth offers a breath of fresh air — or, at the very least, an exciting new chapter.

Actually, if Van Halen’s story were one day collated into some big, greasy biography (and it will), one might peg this era as that mirthful chapter to close out the book. Things feel right, as evidenced in last month’s reunion gig at New York’s Cafe Wha?, which had critics like Sasha Frere-Jones and Chuck Klosterman reeling. In fact, Klosterman titled his review piece, “The Incredibly, Insanely, Undeniably Awesome Return of Van Halen,” but most of his readers probably weren’t surprised by his fan-like exasperation. Frere-Jones, on the other hand, offered a little more objectivity, concluding that “only a Grinch would pass up the chance to see them at least once.” However, on the topic of the new LP, he also stated, “Only the magical thinker would expect the new album to be a necessary addition to their catalog.”

He’s right. A Different Kind of Truth is hardly necessary. The band could easily hit the road without new material — and they did, back in 2007 — but in hindsight, their catalog would always end with Van Halen III. Granted, there are hardly any fans that consider the album canon (sort of like how cinephiles neglect to acknowledge Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but doesn’t a reunion rock record to champion make for a better ending? It does and Van Halen has accomplished just that. Over 13 tracks, A Different Kind of Truth offers the same youthful escape that sold the band to millions worldwide over 30 years ago. Roth hardly sounds geriatric, Eddie’s solos repel, quake, and tremble, Alex’s thundering percussion remains intact, and Eddie’s son (and the band’s current bassist), Ludwig, fits right in. Even without Michael Anthony, the harmonies warm up each track in trademark fashion, cementing this as a genuine Van Halen effort.

There’s a reason for that: A good number of these tracks stem from older demos. One might consider that a cause for alarm, but it works to Van Halen’s advantage here. “She’s the Woman” dates back to a 1976 demo that signed the band to Warner Bros., and it sports the album’s catchiest chorus, recalling the sunny decadence of “Beautiful Girls”. A track like “Blood and Fire” has ties to the band’s score for the 1984 film The Wild Life, yet decades later it swells with flavor, namely due to Roth’s knack for cheese: “Come back when you’re younger/’cause I can feel the thunder/1-800-Guitar.” It’s absolutely perverse — borderline idiotic even — but it’s plain ‘ol fun. Then there’s “Big River”, based on the oft-discussed “Big Trouble” demo which has circulated amongst fans for years, and was actually originally intended for Diver Down and then 1984. This soulful rocker oozes of late ’70s hijinks and the thudding basslines and stormy percussion work off Eddie’s strongest guitar work on the album — not the other way around. “Beats Workin’” culls its energy from past demo “Put Out the Lights”, another lost gem off that Warner Bros. tape, and closes out the album with clamorous focus.

Some of the backpedaling doesn’t work, however. Take lead single, “Tattoo”, for example. Between Eddie’s uninspired, sluggish guitar lines and Roth’s slightly awkward lyrics, the whole thing, while catchy, doesn’t sit well. Neither does “Outta Space”, which dates back to 1976 (see: “Let’s Get Rockin’”) yet paces around like a muscle car with a flat tire — also, nobody wants to envision Diamond Dave setting up his Facebook page, either. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” or “The Trouble with Never” might have worked in 1999, maybe with Gary Cherone even, but now they’re just dated and ugly. One could argue the same for “Bullethead”, especially with its sludgy into, but its Motörhead-fronted-by-Roth vibe offers plenty to love.

A number of fans will revel in Eddie’s killer licks, but the true hero here is Roth. It’s quite clear that the lanky frontman has been waiting for years to really let loose, and A Different Kind of Truth offers him plenty of opportunities. On “Stay Frosty”, the proposed sequel to “Ice Cream Man”, the bluesy track innately frames just what this reunion has accomplished. It’s that long-awaited chapter that finds Roth back on his island, holding his conch, and leading his incredibly fractured family — yet instead of lamenting, he’s partying like there’s no tomorrow. “I’m doing the victory dance,” he states proudly in “Blood and Fire”. Really, what more do you want from a reunion record, especially one by Van Halen?

Essential Tracks: “Blood and Fire”, “She’s the Woman”, and “Big River”


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 8:18 am Quote #3723

Mark
(175)

I’ll be the first one to say I was beyond skeptical, but this is one great album. I’m halfway thru the album, through As Is, and this album just rocks. I’m not 100% familair with how old some of the songs are, but they are VH tunes no matter what. Eddie sounds great. The production is great also. Some of the songs are short, but the album clocks in at about 50 minutes. I bought it without the DVD considering it’s only a few songs. VH fans should be proud of this album.


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 9:59 am Quote #3728

sickman
(2368)

The dvd was well worth the extra few bucks. Even if it is only a few tunes, it’s a nice performance.


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 10:14 am Quote #3729

JasonA
(1010)

“Roth hardly sounds geriatric, Eddie’s solos repel, quake, and tremble, Alex’s thundering percussion remains intact, and Eddie’s son (and the band’s current bassist), Ludwig, fits right in.”
Really?!


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 10:21 am Quote #3730

Mark
(175)

JasonA: “Roth hardly sounds geriatric, Eddie’s solos repel, quake, and tremble, Alex’s thundering percussion remains intact, and Eddie’s son (and the band’s current bassist), Ludwig, fits right in.”Really?!

The background vocals almost sound like Mikey is there. Is the deep voice background vocal Eddie? Roth does not sound bad at all. You can hear that his voice has changed, but he gets pretty loud. There are no high pitched screams from the old days. Quite honestly, and I can probably get yelled at here, but this album is a nice follow up to 1984…
:mrgreen:


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 11:34 am Quote #3732

sickman
(2368)

The deep voice is Roth


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm Quote #3741

Gilligan
(1415)

I’m gonna get some Ludwig shirts made. That’s hilarious.

It’s that long-awaited chapter that finds Roth back on his island, holding his conch, and leading his incredibly fractured family

On first read I swore that said “holding his crotch.” Either way works, I suppose….


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm Quote #3745

ron
(8929)

CD review: Van Halen wins with A Different Kind of Truth
By Mark Lepage February 6, 2012 10:08 AM

Van Halen still surprises with its odd and unforgivable appeal.

Van Halen
A Different Kind of Truth
(Interscope)
Rating: four stars out of five

Like America, Van Halen is back, because like America, Van Halen never really goes away, although it should have imploded decades ago. It still surprises you with its odd and unforgivable appeal. Yes, Tattoo (tat-too, tat-too) is odd indeed at first listen, with David Lee Roth’s staccato vocal and lyrics, that plodding bassline, the construction. You can hear DLR’s vocal tendons straining in Tattoo . . . and yet, it’s the unexpectedly addictive, compelling intro to this VH comeback because, for one thing, there’s no strain in Eddie Van Halen’s tendons. The superlative solo, equal parts virtuosity, arena red meat and compositional savvy, is simply something nobody else will be doing anytime between 1979 and 2012.

The slash-lurch of You and Your Blues confirms that the VH still has hooks. The double-time floorshow in China Town features a remarkable bit of guitar acrobatics, and you’re reminded that this band, for all its gauche sins, remains sui generis (now that the Hagar the Horrible era is over). Never before or since has so much ability been fused to so much carny.

Diamond Dave’s bravura braying may not entirely have the oomph it once did, but his wiles do. Dave has always been more culturally intelligent than any other hard rock singer, it goes without saying, but the barkers in other genres as well. The spoken word bit in Tattoo about “he fought for the unions / some of us still do” may or may not be a populist shout-out, but it sounds winning. Stay Frosty updates Ice Cream Man with vintage Roth wiseness on Buddhism: “He looked me in the eyes and said / don’t make me say this twice / you wanna be a monk, you gotta cook a lotta rice.”

Although the album’s best line is unquestionably “God is love / but — get it in writing.”

As for Eddie: The metal blogs — always the most hilariously savaging — will be filled with the usual “he’s lost it” “he’s finished!” zaniness. That he’s lost a fret-step. But EVH delivers a full spectrum of Technicolor hammer-on whammy creativity. Bullethead races and squeals; Honeybabysweetiedoll is rippingly weird. Meanwhile, Alex Van Halen remains the meatiest drummer in hard rock.

The question that needs asking, or answering, is simple: 35+ years in, with the fifth singer change (Dave-Sammy-Dave-Gary-Sammy-Dave), is A Different Kind of Truth a better Van Halen album than MDNA will be a Madonna album, or No Line on the Horizon was a U2 album? The answer is clearly yes. We’re not necessarily talking about soul here . . . rather, a different kind of inner/outer expression. Think of neon. Eddie doesn’t have as many lightning bolts as he once did? As DLR might ask — how many you got?


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm Quote #3746

ks34vh
(2119)

Nice to see positive reviews..


Laughing at the Days Garbage Through Loud Volume, This is “Laughing At Reality”..

VHT Member since 2001


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm Quote #3749

JasonA
(1010)

http://news.yahoo.com/music-review-van-halen-ageless-album-193906773.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Music Review: Van Halen ageless on new album
By ALEX VEIGA | Associated Press

Van Halen, “A Different Kind Of Truth” (Interscope)

Let’s face it, for many fans, Van Halen without founding singer David Lee Roth just isn’t Van Halen. It’s Van Hagar. Or even Van That-Guy-From-Extreme.

Nearly 30 years after Roth and his bandmates parted ways following the group’s “1984″ album, they’re back with “A Different Kind Of Truth.”

Despite its title, the album’s 13 tracks feel more than a little bit familiar, which is a good thing if you’re looking to rewind the clock to Van Halen circa the late 1970s and early 1980s. If that sort of thing strikes you as dad-rock, however, then not so much.

Regardless, “A Different Kind Of Truth” shows 14 years since the last full Van Halen album, guitar demon Eddie Van Halen remains at the top of his game, betraying no hint of age or wear in his guitar work. All the staples are there: scorching riffs, waves of overlapping notes that dive bomb into deep growls and signature sonic horse wails.

Notably absent from “A Different Kind Of Truth” are the keyboard-heavy songs or power ballads found in the stretch of albums with Sammy Hagar on vocals.

Instead, Van Halen mostly delivers hard-pounding rockers — less “Jump,” more “Atomic Punk.”

And speed. Several tracks, such as the relentless “Bullethead” and “As Is,” fueled by a rockabilly-like riff, are as fast and heavy as anything Van Halen has previously done.

A lot of the credit for that goes to drummer Alex Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, on bass. (Wolfgang replaced original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony during a U.S. tour about four years ago.)

Roth’s voice hasn’t aged quite as well, but his delivery is lively and he lobs in plenty of his trademark yelps.

The singer always was equal parts hype man and frontman, and on some tracks, like the underwhelming first single, “Tattoo,” he’s in over-the-top, Diamond Dave mode, singing “Sexy dragon magic! So very autobiographic!”

Singing with an audible wink worked better on their smash hit “Panama,” but you can’t blame Roth for trying. He’s just giving fans of Van Halen 1.0 what they’ve wanted for three decades.

And on party rocker “Blood and Fire,” Roth tells those fans: “Told you I was coming back/Say you miss me/Say it like you mean it.”


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm Quote #3751

ron
(8929)

That review (ALEX VEIGA one just above this post) will be everywhere as it’s an Associated Press story that’s getting picked up by A LOT of places.


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm Quote #3752

ron
(8929)

Album review: Van Halen, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’
Greg Kot Music critic
1:11 p.m. CST, February 6, 2012

2.5 stars (out of 4)

Van Halen gets back to the business of being Van Halen on its first new album since the 20th Century, “A Different Kind of Truth” (Interscope).

After more than a decade of revolving-door singers (three to be exact: Sammy Hagar, David Lee Roth, and for a brief time, someone named Gary Cherone), three-quarters of the original lineup is intact, with Roth back as the mouthpiece. He is associated with the California quartet’s best and most enduring music, but he hasn’t been involved in any full-length studio albums since 1984, so the new album has built-in nostalgia value for the band’s dedicated audience.

Roth, alongside guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen, doesn’t disappoint the fans by trying to mature or reinvent himself. The boys with crow’s feet and bum hips have made an album that speaks to the inner 16-year-old of their audience, re-creating a fantasy land defined by mullets, muscle cars and first visits to strip clubs. It is an album made by men who have been through enough petty ups-and-downs to fill a couple of soap opera seasons, and who still haven’t reconciled with their original bassist, Michael Anthony, choosing instead to play with the namesake guitarist’s 20-year-old son, Wolfgang.

They are as we remember them: a bottom end that evokes a factory full of big oil drums being battered; choruses that sound like a street gang shouting at their neighbor to turn UP the volume; production that tries to turn it all into a big, overwhelming fist punching through the dashboard radio.

Eddie Van Halen still plays like a cooped-up stallion busting out of his stall. He’s relentless, and when he gets just the slightest bit of room to gallop, he takes over with the kind of jaw-dropping dexterity and imagination that obliterate some of the qualms about Van Halen’s stolid, bar-band-on-steroids approach. The punky velocity of “Bullethead,” the industrial-strength heaviness of “As Is” (also a showcase for Alex Van Halen’s thunder drums), the thrill-ride solos in “China Town” are all built for long drives in the shag-carpeted boogie van of your choice.

There’s one more ingredient that makes “A Different Kind of Truth” an improvement over just about any Van Halen album of the last 25 years: Quirkiness. What once upon a time made Van Halen unique in the progression of metal and hard rock (besides Eddie’s prowess as a guitarist) was its sense of fun, its willingness to be not just over the top, but weird. This was a hallmark of the Roth era, and it was greatly missed in the band’s recordings since his departure. Roth’s ability to laugh at himself drains a bit of the testosterone and replaces it with merry prankster mirth. “Stay Frosty” is the kind of back-porch shuck and jive that Roth used to drop into early Van Halen albums, and his vagabond blues still feels like self-deprecating parody.

“How deep does a rabbit hole go?” he asks during a tour of his acid-dipped psyche in “The Trouble With Never.” The song includes a spoken-word interlude that pretty much sums up a spandex-wearing singer’s philosophy of life: “Selective amnesia is only a heart beat away.”

No telling how many sins, perceived or real, Roth and the Van Halens had to forget to make this reunion possible. But they’re still frisky enough to make a big, bold noise to light up an arena, and they’re laughing while they do it. Humor can redeem almost anything, even a late-career Van Halen comeback album.


  Quote
February 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm Quote #3759

Gilligan
(1415)

I’m surprised at how many of these reviews don’t really match the rating. Like the one above sounds like a 3 or 3.5, yeah? All in all, though, everything seems fall in the “ok” to “great” range, so that’s ok with me.


  Quote
February 7, 2012 at 8:08 am Quote #3805

ron
(8929)

Van Halen: A Different Kind Of Truth — The VHND Review
February 7, 2012
This Mind-Blowing Collection of Explosive Tunes is a Dream Come True

After a career that has been firmly cemented as one of the finest in rock music, it’s hard to imagine that Van Halen has anything left to prove. Millions of albums sold, packed arenas, a game-changing guitar player and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame easily adds up to one of the most successful journeys in rock history. But just over a year ago, when concrete evidence surfaced that the band was working on its 12th studio album and first with David Lee Roth since 1984, the resounding sentiment was guarded excitement. Would internal tension tear the band apart? Did Eddie Van Halen still have the fire in his belly? Could David Lee Roth’s signature vocals still send a shiver up your spine and put a smile on your face? Does Wolfgang Van Halen dominate his instrument like his father and uncle? COULD VAN HALEN STILL MAKE EARTH SHATTERING ROCK MUSIC IN 2012? The Van Halen News Desk has had several days to soak in the band’s new album, A Different Kind of Truth, and the answer to the last question could not be more clear.

Hell yes!

A Different Kind of Truth is an incredible album by any measure and proof that Van Halen still has plenty of gas left in the tank. And whether it’s true or not, ADKOT seems like the ultimate “thank you” to the world’s most dedicated Van Halen fans, many of whom are blasting the new album at insane volumes and pissing off their neighbors at this very moment. As bands grow older, history tells us that they mellow and change. After this many laps around the track, it’s natural to assume EVH, DLR and AVH would have motivation issues and simply mailed it in. It happens all the time. Bands lose focus or simply lose the desire and hunger to blow our minds. New albums become ghostwritten afterthoughts that are little more than an excuse to hit the road and play hits recorded decades earlier. Van Halen decided that’s a bullshit way to play the game. Instead, they dropped the hammer on 13 songs and melted our ears off with the result. Every unique aspect of the band’s recorded history is represented in some form or another, with more bravado and excitement than any reasonable historian of the band could have expected in his or her wildest dreams!

Which brings us to the seed material for roughly half the album. Many months ago, the Van Halen News Desk reported (exclusively) that the band was working on unreleased demos from 1976 and 1977. Longtime fans responded with a unanimous cheer, because while the songs were never officially released, they had been in circulation among collectors for at least 15 years. Recently, several critics and cheap-shot artists have decided that Van Halen took the easy way out by drawing from this catalogue of unreleased music (failing to mention that nearly half the album is completely new material). After hearing the album in full, we couldn’t disagree more. A great song is a great song no matter when it was first conceived. In fact, it’s well documented that rock bands regularly employ this strategy. All of the material belongs to Van Halen and was written at a time when the band was absolutely fearless. Eddie Van Halen was a riff-making machine from in the late 1970?s, single handedly changing the way subsequent generations would approach the instrument. And while plenty of that music ended up on the first six albums, the band’s release schedule couldn’t keep pace with EVH’s creative output. Over time, their earliest material was overshadowed by what was happening in the moment, because Eddie was still at his creative peak. Furthermore, Eddie continued to dip into his endless surprise box of riffs and ideas on nearly every studio album through 1995?s Balance. When the band began recording last year, these unreleased classics were the perfect way to connect the past and present and shake the rust off with original singer David Lee Roth. We are 100% in favor of the band milking every last drop of creativity from that era — and there’s more where that came from. It is perfection defined.

Which leads us to the album. When word leaked that award-winning producer/hitmaker John Shanks was on board, there was an instant fear that he would pour a thick layer of pop syrup on the finished product. Shanks is known for his work with a number of top-40 artists, and fans wondered if those influences would affect the new music. Instead, it appears he used gunpowder. While Shanks’ ultimate influence is unknown, A Different Kind of Truth is heavier than any VH album since Fair Warning and is arguably the most aggressive Van Halen album ever! It is also devastatingly efficient. Working from the smash and grab blueprint of their early recordings, most of the songs clock in at under four minutes. Three cuts are under three minutes, which seems like the blink of an eye when compared to songs on the band’s later albums.

The album opens with “Tattoo,” the lead single and an interesting choice to kick off the set. The riff is based on an unreleased song called “Down in Flames,” known by fans from several early live recordings. A studio version of “DIF” has not been circulated, so all comparisons are relative to live performances. Reception to “Tattoo” was mixed, in large part because everyone expected the first single to be a flat-out ballbreaker. “Tattoo” is a good song with a catchy hook (absent from the original version) and is instantly recognizable as Van Halen — one of the band’s many gifts. With a volume-swelled ending that tips the hat to “Down in Flames” and “You’re No Good” from Van Halen II, “Tattoo” barely has a chance to soak in before the band thrusts the handshaker into another gear. The synchronized guitar/bass intro of “She’s The Woman” nearly knocks you cold and is an instant reminder that Van Halen can still work the heavy bag. The tune was originally recorded on the famous 1976 Gene Simmons demos and is nastier than ever. Aside from the chorus, Dave completely reworked the lyrics. The pre-solo breakdown, famously lifted from the original for 1981?s “Mean Street,” has also changed. But the essence of “She’s The Woman” remains solid to the core and is one of the most prototypical VH songs on the album. The driving riff is a cross between “Mean Street” and “Outta Love Again” and could have easily found a comfortable home on any early DLR-era material.

“You and Your Blues” is a new composition and would make a wise choice as a second or third single. This track hooks you early and never lets go. David Lee Roth lays himself out for this tune, delivering some of his most powerful vocals on the album. Lyrically, Dave pays tribute to some of our most famous blues songs and, probably not by coincidence, to a handful of guitarists (Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Richards) who share the top slots with EVH on any sane person’s list of greatest rock guitar players. “You and Your Blues” is also our first taste of the band’s signature background vocals, which obviously sound different without Michael Anthony, but very solid nonetheless. Complete with a soaring crescendo, this is a song that should set arenas on fire if they decide to perform it live.

We’re stepping out of order for the next quad-pack of songs, “China Town,” “Bullethead,” “As Is” and “Honeybabysweetiedoll.” Separately or as a group, these are four of the heaviest songs Van Halen has ever laid to wax, and are absolutely blowing people’s minds! Of the four, only “Bullethead” traces its roots to the 1970s demo material and is a fairly faithful rendition of the original. Nevermind that three-quarters of the band are pushing 60, it rocks just as hard. Then there’s the epic “As Is”. After Alex Van Halen’s jungle drum intro, hardcore fans instantly recognized one of the riffs as “Two Burritos and a Root Beer Float” — something Eddie performed during a September 2009 appearance on Two and a Half Men and even earlier during a 2003 NAMM demonstration. “As Is” grooves like “Hot for Teacher” on acid — a hard rock boogie for the ages busted up by a side-splitting country funk spoken word interlude that comes as a total surprise. “China Town” burns just as much gas, with gritty, streetwise lyrics that have always been an underappreciated component of David Lee Roth’s work. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” is the most experimental track on the album, but has generated a fast following among fans who like their Van Halen served up heavy and hard. It’s a thundering mix of wild, effects-soaked guitars, sinister vocals and a rhythm section that somehow holds it all together. “Honeybaby” is a haunting song, believed by some to be a derivative of an unreleased track from the “Women and Children First” sessions. The similarities are fleeting and frankly, not evident to us at all, as “Honeybabysweetiedoll” stands entirely on its own. We don’t consider it to be a reworked demo, but a brand new, massive beast that has no equal.

“Blood and Fire,” the album’s fifth track, washes over you like a time-machine and takes you back to the carefree days of cruising around on a summer day, windows down, blasting “Diver Down” or “1984? from your custom Alpine car stereo with the fluorescent green buttons. We know it as “Ripley,” a tune Eddie recorded for the The Wild Life soundtrack in the mid 1980s. A full version of the song has been around for years, and was the only piece of music from The Wild Life sessions that featured Alex Van Halen on drums. “Ripley” was probably written around 1983 and is rumored to have been one of a handful of songs in consideration for the “1984? album. Nearly 30 years on, “Blood and Fire” was worth the wait. Featuring nostalgic lyrics and his live trademark, “Look at all the people here tonight,” Dave has the charming ability to boast without making us hate him for it. “Told you I was coming back,” he proclaims. “Tell me you missed me. Say it like you mean it!” Speaking of boasting, Eddie Van Halen tears up the solo in this song, one of his best on the entire album. There’s plenty of tender guitar steak to chew on throughout the 13 track collection, but the “Blood and Fire” solo is one of those moments where you know Eddie is just killing it. It’s a beautiful thing, because when he’s on his game, there’s not a human being on the planet that makes a guitar sound so incredible.

While there are moments on ADKOT when Van Halen is effortlessly channeling the early 1980s, there are other moments when they sound like a completely fresh, re-tooled version of themselves. On “The Trouble With Never,” another brand new cut, Eddie plants his foot on a wah wah pedal and doesn’t let up for four solid, funk-filled minutes. Along the way, he trades licks with Wolfgang, who has clearly worked his ass off since the last tour — and it shows. We will even go as far as to say that Wolfgang Van Halen is the band’s secret weapon on this album. Eddie and Dave are always going to be the show . . . they are irreplaceable and untouchable rock legends. Alex Van Halen, content to stay in the background, never disappoints and is still one of the most powerful rock drummers alive. To our ears, ADKOT is a showcase for some of Alex’s most aggressive playing yet (see “As Is” and “China Town.”) But Wolfgang’s effort is much more than a pleasant surprise — it’s downright impressive. He doesn’t just hold down the bottom. He absolutely owns it. It doesn’t hurt that the bass is mixed loads higher than all but a couple of the band’s previous albums, which is long since water under the bridge as far as we’re concerned. Whatever the reason, WVH had a ton of latitude and takes complete advantage of the opportunity. We are convinced his musical talent will continue to impress many years after his work with Van Halen is complete.

The final four tracks on ADKOT are just amazing, and are comprised of three classic gems and one new tune, “Stay Frosty,” an “Ice Cream Man” boogie that BEGS to be played live. Again drawing inspiration from their 1977 Warner Brothers demos, the band grinds out new versions of “Let’s Get Rockin’” (“Outta Space”), “Put Out The Lights” (“Beats Workin’) and “Big Trouble” (“Big River”). Musically, “Outta Space” is probably the most faithful recreation of its unreleased counterpart, with a delivery that is equal parts “Atomic Punk” and “Light Up The Sky.” A Different Kind of Truth ends with “Beats Workin’,” which is considerably changed from the demo days. The riff still sounds like it came straight out of the 1970s, but an improved chorus and wild post-solo breakdown (somehow melding “Day Tripper” and “All Right Now”) are the icing on the cake.

After several complete listens, there are several additional takeaways from A Different Kind of Truth. First, it’s great to have Eddie Van Halen throwing the fastball again. His guitar work on this album is a firm roundhouse to the jaw of every gasbag who took joy in saying his chops were fried. In our book, it takes a lot more than a few tough years to knock the king off his throne. Second, it’s beyond magical to have David Lee Roth recording with Van Halen again. Dave’s voice, words and overall flavor have always been the perfect complement to Eddie’s music. Dave’s a sharp, funny guy who deserves as much credit as anyone for making this project happen. For the most part, Dave has been doing the talking in the weeks leading up to the album’s release. From his interviews with Ed and Al, to his storytelling at the Cafe’ Wha?, Dave seems sentimental as he approaches his late 50s — almost taking on the role of band historian. Perhaps that’s why it makes so much sense that his role has come full circle. Which brings us to a final thought about the CD booklet. Detailed liner notes and lyric sheets have become a lost art in the digital age. On occasion, interested fans might download a .pdf of an album’s lyrics for a quick glance before letting it rot forever in a random download folder. The liner notes for A Different Kind of Truth are a throwback to the great album booklets of our youth. Lyrics for all thirteen songs were entirely handwritten by David Lee Roth, with accompanying sketches, doodling and artwork. Dave put a lot of work into the final product and it’s a keeper, creating an additional connection to the music that is often overlooked.

28 years after the last full album with David Lee Roth, A Different Kind of Truth is exactly the album Van Halen fans wanted. Selfishly, we don’t want Van Halen to evolve, we want them to pick up where they left off. Miraculously, that’s almost exactly what they did. At the beginning of this review, we speculated that Van Halen recorded this album with their most dedicated fans in mind. Whatever the motivation, we owe Ed, Al, Dave and Wolf a huge thank you and an even bigger round of applause for a mind-blowing, masterpiece of an album. We hope this isn’t the end of the road because the last month has been a singularly awesome experience. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.


  Quote

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.