Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Van Halen- A Different Kind Of Truth (2012)

Post #199
Earlier this year the legendary Van Halen released their first full-length album since 1998. This looong awaited album also sees the return of original vocalist David Lee Roth, and the debut of Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie's son) on bass guitar. I noticed that it had arrived in my local library's AV section, so I checked it out to hear for myself what Van Halen had been working on for 14 years...

A Different Kind Of Truth has been so long in the making, that I almost think of it as another 'Chinese Democracy', as in how can it possibly live up to the growing expectations that have built up over the years? Weather you consider VH's last album with Roth (1984), Hagar (Balance), or even their '98 album with Gary Cherone (3), they all leave a high standard to live up to. (OK, maybe I'm the only one who thinks highly of the '3' album, but still...)

So, how did my expectations hold up? Actually, not too bad! This album may not be the best ever from VH, but it was not the terrible let-down I had feared. Honestly, I owe most of those fears to the first single, 'Tattoo'. That song did nothing for me- I found it to be the pinnacle of mediocrity. However, the rest of the album picks up quite a bit as you let it play...

The 2nd track, 'She's the Woman', is a bit better, but where Van Halen really grabbed me was on the 3rd track, 'You and Your Blues'. This song finally displayed one of those intricate riff-structures, and crisp tonality that I could believe came from Eddie Van Halen. This is also one of several tracks that almost seem surreal to me as I listen to it, for the guitar tone sounds like Hagar-era material, but with Dave on vocals it almost catches me off-guard. This subtle, new combination of previous elements is a big reason I find A Different Kind of Truth to be such a redeeming listening experience.

There are times when the vibe on this album can't help but be compared to the 'classic' Roth-era material, and rightly so! Sometimes it really does feel like the good-ole days of Van Halen again. However, it's not usually a good thing for any band to stagnate in their own past for too long, and there are enough instances of new and modern sounding passages on this album for me to finally have faith in Van Halen once again. I just hope their next album will not take another 14 years to make.

And now I'll leave you with my recommended tracks:
-You and Your Blues (This is the song that I think is the best example of Van Halen living in the now.)
-China Town (One of the faster-tempo numbers on this album...)
-Blood and Fire (There's some part of this song that I think sounds like White Lion's 'Going Home Tonight', but check it out and decide for yourself...)
-As Is (Drum intro for this one, followed by heavy guitars, which quickly give way to some much faster fretwork that is evidence of Eddie Van Halen living up to his name...)
-Outta Space
-Stay Frosty (This one seems at times like it's trying to imitate the vibe from 'Ice Cream Man', and it comes pretty close. A type of song we've not heard from Van Halen for a long time...)

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