15 May 2012

Review: Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth

It seems like there are two types of Van Halen fans out there, the fans that prefer David Lee Roth as the front man and those that prefer Sammy Hagar. There might even be a couple that like the Gary Cherone Van Halen.

 I was one of those in the David Lee Roth camp. The album 1984 brought heavy metal into the mainstream. Even my parents knew the song “Jump” (It’s still the catchiest, most upbeat song I have ever heard about suicide).

 Last year I heard the band was working on a new album with David Lee Roth (vocals), Eddie Van Halen (guitar), Alex Van Halen (drums) and Wolfgang Van Halen (bass). The wait was reminiscent of my childhood days waiting for Christmas.

 In January the band released the single “Tattoo” and I found myself feeling disappointed. The lyrics were a bit quirky and it just seemed a little cheesy to me. I have been listening to the new album A Different Kind of Truth all week long and realized something that has totally changed my feelings about this album. This is the same stuff that I used to love about the original Van Halen. The message hasn’t changed. The world we live in has. We are just getting out of a war and the economy seems to finally be gaining some ground. The world has been to Hell and back and a lot of people are ready for some healing.

 It’s about time we find our sense of humor again. A Different Kind of Truth is a refreshing journey back to those carefree party days when life was less serious and no one had ever heard of political correctness.

The first thing I noticed about this album was the lack of keyboards. When 1984 came out peoples biggest worry was that there was too much keyboard on it. If you were one of them then this one’s for you.

The second thing I noticed was the bass playing was a lot busier than the typical Van Halen album. The song “China Town” starts with a duel attack of guitar and bass playing synchronized two hand tapping licks. It may be that Wolfgang is a better bass player than Michael Anthony or it could be that Eddie is more willing to share the limelight with his son. Either way it works on this album.

Eddie and Alex have some new tricks up their sleeves. They continue to reach new levels as musicians and David Lee Roth delivers all the tongue in cheek lyrics and catchy melodies you would expect from one of the most entertaining showmen to ever front a rock and roll band.

There are some great songs on A Different Kind of Truth. There is the song “Stay Frosty” which sounds like a tribute to “Ice Cream Man” with an updated energy to it. The song “Honeybabysweetiedoll” is unique with an East Indian kind of feel to it. The guitar solos on this one take me to my “Happy Place”, but when I say, “Tap it in” I am thinking about Eddie’s two hand tapping.

The album ends strong with what I consider the heaviest song on the album, “Beat Workin’”, a song that treats us to a funky bass solo in the middle with liberty and cow bell for all.

A Different Kind of Truth is just the kind of truth I have been searching for. The only thing I find myself wanting that isn’t here is Michael Anthony’s backup vocals, but there are a lot of hidden gems on this album that more than make up for it. When was the last time a heavy rock album made you smile? For me it’s every time I play this album.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Honeybabysweetiedoll, Stay Frosty, Beats Workin’

Kirk Bullough

1. Tattoo
2. She's the Woman
3. You and Your Blues
4. China Town
5. Blood and Fire
6. Bullethead
7. As Is
8. Honeybabysweetiedoll
9. The Trouble with Never
10. Outta Space
11. Stay Frosty
12. Big River
13. Beats Workin'

Artist:  Van Halen
Title:  A Different Kind of Truth
Genre: Heavy Rock
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Label:  Interscope Records
Website:  http://www.van-halen.com/

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