Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth [2012]

PhotobucketThis is a shocking return to form! Van Halen is back with a new album and prove that their star has not been extinguished yet. I am, at this very moment, listening to the album a second time and I have to say… I cannot even find the words to how COOL this album is. I was literally at a loss for words because no words exist to fully describe the sensation of satisfaction & gratification that wash over me having waited so long for this moment and, now that it’s here, to be absolutely blown away by the quality and care that went into crafting these amazing tunes.
“A Different Kind of Truth” brings back that classic Van Halen sound we’ve all missed, dreamed and prayed for during the Van Hagar years. Sure, the “Van Hagar” years produced some pretty solid music, but nothing compares to the one-two combo punch of Diamond Dave and Eddie’s powerhouse screaming guitars. With songs like “Outta Space”, “She’s the Woman” “Stay Frosty” and “Chinatown”, Van Halen brings back the carefree, fun-loving, womanizing rocking tunes that you partied to and blasted from your Alpine car stereo from your Dad’s Buick. The album overall is absolutely solid, and exceptional with classic tunes throughout. After a period of hard living, wrong choices and bad mistakes, Eddie is playing with that same intense fire as in his youth…you can literally hear that hungry spark in his playing again. Dave seems a bit hesitant due to age, but his vocals still growl and purr like the old days. Alex is solid as ever with that solid, rock hard Van Halen beat. Even though Michael Anthony is badly missed and no longer a part of the mix, Wolfgang Van Halen brings it on and is making his own statement in this band.
The choice of the cool track “Tattoo” as the lead single may have more to do with its peacocking pop factor than anything else, because despite being the opener it isn’t the standout track on this fantastic album. This song reaches into my heart and grabs it, as it’s friggin’ Van Halen, man! This rocked so hard and represents a prelude of things to come on the rest of this album. Immediately, “She’s The Woman” taps into the ebullient ’80s spirit, a strong connection to a nostalgia-free strut and sexy, slick riffage – complete with a classic VH solo. A gem from the archives, the track appeared on a 1976 demo the band cut with Gene Simmons on production. On “You And Your Blues” there’s a sick little changeup at the two-minute mark, a serpentine acceleration before another screaming solo. Truly, the six-string snobs will have their hands full here, as Eddie brings an airtight assault of fretwork that runs flush with the original glory days. The guitar riff is familiar, the voice is haunting and young, the drums come up and the vocal harmonies appear, and there it is, and other perfect Van Halen song. Did these guys jump into a time machine and set it for the 80’s, because I’m all for it! This is the song of the album so far, it’s rich and lush and the solos are perfect, and the rock is finally back! Van Halen’s legendary tapping channels Beethoven for just a flash to kick off a furiously sprinting “China Town,” and the neckbreaker’s not alone in its frantic pace or celebratory energy. The guitar solo here is vintage Eddie, and is so freaking dizzying your head will spin, and then it stops for that one second and then the song jumps back in full blast! Look out, you’re gonna get blown away by this one. On “Blood and Fire”, are the boys singing the history of their lives or of the band’s, or of both? Dave moans over the smashing guitar work of Eddie, brother Alex keeping fantastic time, and young son Wolfgang just banging away on the bass. 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, a fast-funk hard rocker with enough intensity to make the two-and-a-half minutes pass like a heartbeat. Eddie’s skittering riff carries us through the labyrinthian “As Is” with a tenacious confidence. The drums tell you that a monster track is coming. And it sure is, a behemoth of sound, quickly building up to David Lee Roth once again keeping up in his own way against the all-out assault of the Van Halens. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” is one of the odder tracks on the album. It’s sexy, and fast, and it’s like a moonlight ride with your lover with the lights off doing 125 on the highway as you get closer to… oh, you know what! Another growling mastertake. After going out with the 1984 influenced “The Trouble With Never”. This song once again takes me back to the past glories of the band, but it’s a great place to be, and David’s voice has never sounded more syrupy and with that sexy quiet growl he is famous for. “Outta Space” continues the full-steam ahead onslaught. Another screamer from David, and another wonderful solo from the master, and he’s getting better with every song, and on this song you can feel every fret and string being tortured under his capable hands!, while “Stay Frosty” comes across as ‘Ice Cream Man’ part two with its bar-brawl swagger jam. A great bit of solo Eddie work once again in between as well, and of course what Van Halen album would be complete without the big classic song ending? “Big River” is another great song and one of my picks for another hit. The guitar work is solid and the solo here is unmatched and timeless, and even though you may have heard similar versions of it, this is Eddie Van Halen, one of the inventors of the speed solo, and here he is untouched. “Beats Workin’” closing the record. Is a love letter to everyone who has ever wanted to start a rock band, to everyone who has failed, and to those who succeeded only to let it slip out of their hands.
Finished the disc and I’m stunned with how awesome it is. Maybe it was the super low expectations going in, but I am just tickled pink with how fun this album is and how it really does capture the classic Van Halen Magic. After a decade of a hard, depressed economic times, growing apathy, civil dissension, social unrest and distrust in government, business and authority, we need something to uplift our spirits in this bleak, dour period. Thankfully, Van Halen has delivered the goods and brought a “Different Truth”, just in time.
Welcome back, boys.

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, percussion

Tracks
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’

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