VAN HALEN – A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH

Out now on Interscope Records

Everyone knows the history that’s led up to “A Different Kind Of Truth” so let’s just focus on the music.  I am glad David Lee Roth is back, granted his vocals might not be in their full bare chested primeval roar of the bands heyday, and the years of Marlboro abuse have seen his range drop an octave or two, the band sounds right with Roth to these ears.

Anyone expecting a remake of VH1 is surely missing the point, the band evolved over their six studio albums in their earlier days and this album is no different.  Whilst there are traces to the bands roots notably the reworking of pre VH1 demos of “She’s The Woman”, “Big River”, “Outta Space” and “Beats Workin’” (all of which ROCK big time) there is also a savy modern commercial edge and punch to much of the material, this doesn’t sound like band effectively in their fourth decade of making music.

Opener “Tattoo” seems to be a love/hate number, I for one have loved it since its first spin, with its chorus refrain being catcher than anything else heard in the last 12 months.   The laid back “You And Your Blues” is a class tune, interesting riffs and good performances, the same can also be said of “Blood And Fire” which grooves in a ‘Diver Down’ sort of way, good time commercial radio rock, this sounds great in the car when the sun is out.  And yes Dave we did miss you and we mean it.

“Honeybabysweetiedoll” sees Roth manage to lay down vocals over an intangible musical backing and whilst rather chaotic the track works, and could be seen in some ways as a tribute to Eddie’s friendship with Dimebag musically.   “The Trouble With Never” is another cracker, superb bluesy riff with a guitar sound to die for.  Roth raps in his inimitable style and Wolfie and Ed manage to do a passable Michael Anthony backing vocal on this one.  “Stay Frosty” is quite obviously an update on an ‘Ice Cream Man’ theme yet good fun and album closer “Beats Working” has more vintage/modern charm to it.

That’s not to say everything hits the mark “China Town” seems all huff and no blow, the same could also be thrown at “Bullethead” which is rather throwaway, that said to hear the Van Halen’s pounding on a groove normally gives good value.  “As Is” seems to suffer from a lack of identity and is very disjoined and the weakest track on offer yet these don’t distract too much from work elsewhere.

Sonically the album is high gain, Eddie’s tone is very processed but still sounds good for the most part.  Wolfgang holds down the bottom end with ease and Alex is his usual all over the kit self.  Roth is the icing on the cake.  “A Different Kind Of Truth” may need a few spins to settle in, but it’s worth it. Hopefully they can hold it together for some European dates and another album.

Rating – 92%

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