A Different Kind Of Truth

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Van Halen, A Different Kind Of Truth
I am one of the many annoying fans who refer to Sammy Hagar's time as lead singer as the Van Hagar years, a more poppy time for the boys in Van Halen. I never talk about the Gary Cherone experiment, because frankly, the less said about that fiasco, the better. Now Diamond Dave rejoins the Van Halen boys for the first new Van Halen album since 1998's ill fated and aforementioned Van Halen III.

First off, this is a Van Halen album. Eddie still shreds. Alex still carry's the load on drums and Wolfgang is doing yeoman's work in Micheal Anthony's old bass/backup vocals slot. Sure, Dave can't hit the notes like he used too, but this feels like a blast of the old 70's Van Halen, maybe because some of the songs come from that time period. Those songs that were written by Eddie and David Lee Roth carry the same metal fingerprint that took the world by storm with Van Halen I & II.

A Different Kind Of Truth also features five all new songs, but mostly it features Eddie proving that he is one of the best ever to strap on an axe and dazzle the faithful. Fourteen years is a long time for a virtuoso to be away. I would argue this is some of Eddie's best since 1984 when he, for whatever reason, added keyboards to Jump and started a more pop like sound. On 1984, the songs you remember are Panama and Hot For Teacher, which feature Eddie at his eruptive best.

Eddie may have lost part of his tongue but he sure ain't lost any licks in the intervening fourteen years. The album does start out weak with Tattoo, with Dave talk scatting his way through some sort of uninspired lyrics. The album really breaks out with acoustic opening of Blood And Fire, which sounds like it could have been off any Van Halen album pre 1984. Eddie's guitar is almost minimalistic but it builds to a shredding riff that is like time hasn't passed at all, even though Dave tells us “I told you I was coming back”. Another good one is Outta Space, where Eddie delivers power chords that need to be cranked up to 11. Stay Frosty feels like the sequel to the cover of Ice Cream Man on Van Halen I.

I know this sounds like an Eddie Van Halen slobberfest, but all the other pieces of the band deliver, too. Alex is still one of the best damn (and under rated) drummers around. Wolfgang does a great job on bass and delivering the back up vocals that make this feel like a real Van Halen jam. Diamond Dave is Diamond Dave, inspiring the band, and especially Eddie to heights forgotten since the golden days of the late 70's and early 80's.

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