VAN HALEN – A Different Kind Of Truth

Van Halen - A Different Kind of TruthA new Van Halen album has been a long time coming, in fact, so long that you wondered if it would ever see the light of day. Van Halen has in recent years been more a soap opera than a band. Ever since the band broke up with singer Gary Cherone after their disastrous album III and the likewise disastrous tour that followed, things have not been well in the Van Halen camp. Both cancer and in and out of rehabs for Eddie Van Halen, Sammy Hagar’s back in, Hagar’s out, David Lee Roth back in, cancelled tours, rumours of a new CD, rumours denied, Bassist Michael Anthony’s out, Eddie’s son Wolfgang in, still no CD… It has now been 14 years since we got to hear anything new from the band………..and then, BOOM!- here it is! And it’s the first album with Roth since 1984 that came out in, well, 1984, and no matter how you look at it, expectations are high when a band like this releases something new.

First off, Anthony is still out and Wolfie’s still in, which makes this not the original line up. Not to slag Wolfie off, he does really great here, but Anthony is missed. He had an exceptional style in playing and his vocal harmonies and background vocals were very important to the Van Halen sound, and that is why some of the songs sound like David Lee Roth solo material with Eddie and Alex backing him up.

But the fact is, they have made a brilliant record here! Opener and first single ”Tattoo” sounded real weak at first, but turned out to be a real grower, from lame to a winner. Good job! ”She’s The Woman” is a true Van Halen classic that sounds like a leftover from Women And Children First, ”You And Your Blues” sounds like Sammy Hagar version of the band, but with Roth singing, ”As Is” is nod back to ”Hot For Teacher” and with ”The Trouble With Never”, they go all Zeppelin on us, very catchy and a great song.

”Stay Frosty” is brilliant. It takes us back to their bluesier sound and I’m thinking ”Ice Cream Man”, ”Take Your Whiskey Home” and ”Finish What Ya Started” in a mix. ”Big River” is also a catchy one and just like ”Tattoo”, it sounds more like a DLR solo song than classic VH. Still great though and in ”Honeybabysweetiedoll” they just might have the best song off the album. A heavy rocker with a melody that sounds a bit like ”Gates Of Babylon” with Rainbow, if you can imagine that.

This is a very good, but not great comeback album. That said, if you expect them to sound exactly like they did in the early 80’s you might be a bit disappointed. The sound here is more like a mix of classic VH with bits of the Hagar era and some DLR solo stuff thrown in. But if you can let that slip, then you’re in for a very enjoyable hour here. Runner up for album of the year, no doubt.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

01. Tattoo
02. She’s The Woman
03. You And Your Blues
04. China Town
05. Blood And Fire
06. Bullethead
07. As Is
08. Honeybabysweetiedoll
09. The Trouble With Never
10. Outta Space
11. Stay Frosty
12. Big River
13. Beats Workin’

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