As the resident David Lee Roth era Van Halen fan I guess I should throw my thoughts about the new album A Different Kind of Truth Out there. It’s been out for five days now at the time of this writing and I actually can’t believe how time slips by and I should have already talked about this, especially since we’re involved in a contest to win a guitar and all. So let’s talk then. ADKOT is the first full length studio album by Van Halen with DLR since ‘1984’ and the first studio album in 13 years overall. Now when a legendary band gets together after such a long layoff it’s kind of a scary proposition. Bands either put out a great product like Alice in Chains did, or put together a mediocre mess like Guns n’ Roses did. So where does Van Halen fall in this? Happily in the former.
I’m not going to get too much into the drama that has surrounded Van Halen since Sammy Hagar left. It’s been done to death about Michael Anthony being fired and Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, being added. The biggest thing people harped on about ADKOT is the fact that many of these songs were old unused tracks from the 70’s and not new songs created recently. To this I say, so? If you’re going to make the biggest comeback of the last two decades or so then reintroduce to the people of why your band was so great before. Personally listening to this album just takes me back to the fun Van Halen that was full of riffs, solos and quirky tongue in cheek lyrics. You know, before they hired Sammy and it became a romantic, polished rock outfit.
ADKOT starts off with the track ‘Tattoo’ which has quickly for better or worse become an instant classic thanks to massive airplay and video release. It’s not a bad tune and is kind of a quirky and warm introduction to the new/old Van Halen. It’s not the best track though as there are 12 other songs packed into this that in various ways vie for attention. The next track ‘She’s the Woman’ tries to reintroduce the harmonic choruses that were a Van Halen trademark and this is where Michael Anthony is missed but it’s still not bad. The next four songs have various versions of the guitar orientated hard rock Van Halen was famous for back in the day. And to remind of another trademark of VH is the song ‘Stay Frosty’ which is bluesy ditty in the vein of Ice Cream Man or Happy Trails.
So let’s talk about the actual performances a bit. David Lee Roth is still David Lee Roth. Noticeably he can’t hit the squealing ranges he used to though he tries on tracks like ‘You and your Blues’. No one ever could make the claim that he was the greatest vocalist around but for the songs that Van Halen write with him he’s the consummate rock vocalist still and it’s proven on ADKOT. Eddie Van Halen apparently wants people to forget his synthesizer days. ADKOT is chalk full of riffs as I mentioned before but it’s also got a healthy dose of ripping solos. They might not be as awe inspiring as they were in the late 70’s or early 80’s but in this day in age where hard rock is on life support they’re still impressive. Alex is still one of the best rock drummers around. Which leads to new kid Wolfgang on bass. How can the kid go wrong delivering bass lines when his Dad and uncle are there to mentor. He’s got groove which is the most important part of being a bass player in this band. Is he better then Michael Anthony? I don’t know because an opinion like that is too subjective. I think he sounds fine here.
So in closing, Van Halen is back if at least for one album. If you’re one of those people that don’t want to listen because you like Sammy or Michael then you’re missing out. If you’re a DLR era fan then this album should be like an aged but familiar blanket and you’re in for an ass kicking good time.