Saturday, February 4, 2012

VAN HALEN: "A Different Kind Of Truth"

Rating: 9/10

Label: Polydor 2012

Review by Alan Holloway

Well, it’s finally here. After what seems like an age Van Halen, now reunited with original vocalist Dave Lee Roth, have recorded an album. It’s been 14 years since Gary Cherone unwisely tried to fill Sammy Hagar’s moon boots, although the memory of “Van Halen III” lingers like an old dogs fart. Perhaps the biggest surprise about “A Different Kind Of Truth” is that the songs are almost all oldies, unfinished or unrecorded stuff from way back. This seems odd, but Van Halen were pretty frikken good back in the day, so it could just be inspirational rather then just plain lazy.

The single biggest problem with this album is the lead track and singe “Tattoo”. Although it does get to you after a while, it’s really not that good a song. If you love it, though, you’re going to go absolutely NUTS when you hear the rest, as to a song they blow it away. The best thing about “A Different Kind Of Truth” is that it is absolutely stiffed full of guitar, with Eddie Van Halen’s calloused fingers running up and down his fretboard at every opportunity. It also manages to strike a perfect balance between pop and heavy rock, with melody, harmony and kick ass guitar riffs sitting comfortably beside each other.

The biggest hype, of course, comes from the return of Roth (only 3 and a half years away from his personal Diamond anniversary), and like most people I was wondering what he’d sound like. Thankfully, he sounds like Dave Lee Roth, so that’s okay. He’s still got the range, the bravado and the cheek that he always had, although he’s joined the short hair brigade these days. I loved the Sammy Hagar VH material, but it sure is great to hear Roth back doing the business.

This is no “1984”, but in it’s own way it’s just as good, if not better. Aside from “Tattoo” every song is a monster. Some of the intros are inspiring, with Eddie happy to widdle away for a few seconds before the main track kicks in. The choruses are big, the riffs are big, and the speed is right up where it should be, with more than a few tracks rattling along at a “Hot For Teacher” pace. There’s no keyboards anywhere, and each and every song includes a kick ass guitar solo. There’s even a quirky song in the shape of “Stay Frosty”, which anyone who loved “Ice Cream Man” will adore, as it’s in a similar vein.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect much of this album. Van Halen to me were a band who had their time and were now old news. Suddenly, they’re back and have rarely sounded hungrier. Jesus can go suck it, because Van Halen have risen from the dead - hallelujah!


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