Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth

Van Halen - A Different Kind Of Truth

Released on February 7, 2012 (Interscope)
Chart Position #2

CD Track List:
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’
Deluxe Edition DVD: The Downtown Sessions Track List:
01. Panama
02. You And Your Blues (Intro)
03. You And Your Blues
04. Beautiful Girls

Band Members:
David Lee Roth – vocals
Eddie Van Halen – guitar, keyboards and backing vocals
Wolfgang Van Halen – bass and backing vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums

Produced by John Shanks and Ross Hogarth.

I can’t think of a rock album in recent memory that has been as anticipated, polarizing and guarded as Van Halen‘s first ‘real’ record in almost 30 years. I say that because, in my opinion, Van Halen began and ended with David Lee Roth at the helm — he brought an unrivaled swagger and confidence to the legendary rockers that was sorely missing upon his departure. Sure the band remained massively successful with Sammy Hagar at the helm, but there is no denying it was a different beast.

The big question now is, can A Different Kind Of Truth match not only its own hype but also compete with one of the most impressive discographies in the annals of hard rock history? The answer has to be no… doesn’t it? Well not so fast, because Van Halen has reworked some old ideas and mixed them with new material for incredible results. Many rock veterans are unable to recapture their signature sound, and while Van Halen may have cheated by raiding their vaults, who really cares when an idea first came to fruition as long as it kicks our asses? So I’m going to completely ignore when, where and how the songs on A Different Kind Of Truth came together and just focus on the now.

When “Tattoo” was released as the first single/video awhile back my high expectations of this CD quickly dropped because it sounded like nothing more than one of Roth‘s ill-fated solo ideas. You quickly forget about that misstep though when Eddie Van Halen fires up the fretboard and conjures up his signature sound on “She’s The Woman” — and the boys quickly take you back in time, circa 1979 (for even more Van Halen II memories try “Blood And Fire” on for size). Alex Van Halen pounds away on the drums during the unrelenting “China Town” as if he just had steroids injected straight into his aging arms — this is the Van Halen I remember!

The wicked ride back to their youth continues on “Bullethead”, and anyone who thought Eddie and Dave wouldn’t be able to deliver again can eat their words immediately after playing this scorcher. I started getting worried during the intro of “As Is”, and began to wonder if the band was finally going to attempt being ‘modern’ (that happens later in the forgettable “Honeybabysweetiedoll”), thankfully a full-speed ahead guitar riff kicked in and alleviated all fears — Roth even decided to yammer away in “Hot For Teacher” fashion in a couple spots.

Two-thirds of the way through A Different Kind Of Truth and I have to say I’m very impressed… and things don’t let up. “Outta Space” continues the full-steam ahead onslaught while “Stay Frosty” comes across as “Ice Cream Man” part two. After going out with the 1984 influenced “Big Trouble” and “Beats Workin'” I begin to think back to Sammy Hagar saying he was unimpressed with this CD and wonder to myself what he was listening to? A Different Kind Of Truth may not be the pinnacle of Van Halen‘s career but it shines and exceeds every expectation I had (and they were high). To the people who have said Roth can no longer sing, or that Eddie was too fucked-up to once again turn the guitar into a musical weapon — feel free to crawl under your rock now.

A Different Kind Of Truth may be short on new ideas, often sounding like a greatest hits compilation of Roth era songs we hadn’t heard before. However I didn’t want anything ‘different’, I wanted a Van Halen album — and that is exactly what one of rock’s true royalties have delivered. Regardless of how much bad blood has been spilled over the years, of how insane Roth and the Van Halen brothers can act, one thing is certain — when they get together magic happens.

Reviewed by Skid for Sleaze Roxx, February 2012

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