Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth

A different kind of Van Halen?
It’s been 14 years now since ‘Van Halen III’, the album that former bassist Michael Anthony called a solo record by Eddie van Halen, came out.  However, 28 years should pass before Van Halen and David Lee Roth would see a record studio from inside again. Although David Lee Roth joined Van Halen in 2007 already, the new record was released on 02/07/2012. Now, the question is if it was worth waiting for this new album. Let me say this much: yes, it was definitely worth it. ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ can easily compete with ‘1984’, David Lee Roth’s last record with Van Halen.

The opener already gets one in the mood for the rest of the album. A casual song with a cool groove that whets one’s appetite. The chorus, at the latest, is the point where the listener should get caught by the song and be unable to forget it for a long time. Here again, David Lee Roth speaks part of the lyrics in his distinctive, positively arrogant way, just like he did on ‘1984’.

She’s the Woman
Who should write a song like this if not David Lee Roth? Bad girls and beautiful women can be found on ‘1984’ but here things are getting a bit greasy wenn Lee Roth sings “It’s looking like the city towed my other apartment”. He shall be forgiven because, focussing on the song’s riff, which could be taken from one of the first records, one should now be totally drawn to the album.

You and Your Blues
A solid hard rock song  with a catchy riff, where, in the chorus, DLR sounds a bit like Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson. There are two things becoming clear in this song. At first, Eddie van Halen is far better at playing the guitar than the keys and secondly, although Michael Anthony’s harmonic basslines are missing, Wolfgang van Halen proves himself worthy replacing Anthony. Even the Van Halen-typical background singing can be heard for the first time.

China Town
The album’s first power song. Alex van Halen clearly shows how good he is at drumming and, with the help of the double bass technique, hammers his way through China Town. Eddie’s guitar play, including the solo, only confirms that he should keep his fingers away from the keys. An incredibly fluid solo reminding one of the good old Van Halen times. The song itself reflects the daily hectic of China Town well. The only thing putting a damper on the track is the chorus which takes some power away right after the verses.

Blood and Fire
Hearing the intro one could assume a ballad to follow. When David begins to sing and the drums start to play it sounds a bit like country rock until the well known Van Halen sound is established again. Besides the drum rolls and fills this can be heard by Eddie playing his guitar just like he did in the 80s – fast, fluid and stretched out.

Again a power song convincing the listener especially because of its speed and energy. Unfortunately, the song’s lyrics are a bit weak which becomes clear in the chorus. Here, DLR seems a bit bored while singing but nevertheless, the song unfolds its own magic and once again Eddie’s guitar play is wonderful.

As Is
This song, just like Bullethead, is one of the album’s faster songs. The intro creates three different impressions:

1. The counting at the beginning reminds one of the beginning of Wildest Dreams by Iron Maiden.
2. The drums sound like the intro of Jaded by Aerosmith.
3. The entry of the guitar makes the song sound like one of the newer Staind songs.

It takes 40 seconds to recognize there’s Van Halen playing – with power, speed and the typical background vocals. The spoke part sounding like a radio commercial doesn’t do any harm to the song.

What can you say? Another song about the ladies who David Lee Roth seems to adore. Musically the song comes to live by the three Van Halens playing. Wolfgang’s bass play is well audible in the instrumental parts and one hardly recognizes that Michael Anthony is missing. Chapeau! Lyrically the song might be a bit greasy again but that should not bother any of the “soccer moms” once she has sent the “bad cowboy” to her room. She only needs to pull the “pin”.

The Trouble with Never
“1-800-Tell-Me-Baby”. Life counseling à la Van Halen? Definitely not. More like a solid rock song letting David Lee Roth have his say in his charming-arrogant way. The line “When was the last time you did something for the first time, makes you think about everyday life’s routine, no matter what the song is actually about.

Outta Space
Powerful from the beginning to the end. Here again, Lee Roth’s voice and singing technique remind one of Bruce Dickinson. The text critically deals with social networks and how people destroy nature. Those are topics one wouldn’t expect after listening to two songs dedicated to the women.

Stay Frosty
Sounding like a mixture between Country and Blues at first, Stay Frosty is one of the album’s best songs. Right when one thinks the record would end smoothly, Van Halen hit the strings and the drums with all their strength again and the song becomes powerful and infectious. David Lee Roth, again, relies on speaking most of the lyrics. However, the chorus is sung, goes right into the ears and stays there for a long time. Concerning the outro one can state that there a only a few bands being able to end a song with power chords and drum rolls lasting 30 seconds.

Big River
Starts calmly then changes into an unmistakable Eddie van Halen-Riff, supported wonderfully by Alex on the drums. The following solos are top-notch and give the song a special something.

Beats Workin’
An excellent powerful beginning by Eddie. The riff burns itself right into the listener’s mind and Alex’ drumming emphasizes this, so one can say for sure the beats are workin’. Compared to Tattoo it can be noted that the record ends even better than it started. The songs ending is as strong as its beginning and as Eddie’s guitar slowly but surely dies away it becomes evident that the 50 minutes running time are already over.

Van Halen and David Lee Roth made their fans wait 28 years. Although there had been a reunion in 2007, the new record comes out five years later. Well, they shall be forgiven because it was more than worth waiting. What is remarkable is that, every time DLR is part of Van Halen, Eddie plays the guitar as if his life is at stake. This, in fact, makes the album such a powerful record. Van Halen are back (for the moment) and one should enjoy this as long as possible.

Rating: 4,5/5


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