A Different Kind Of Truth
REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/02/2012
I am going to start this review by telling you all of the things that I am not going to do. I’m not getting into the politics surrounding the various attempts at getting this band back into a functioning unit again because you’d have to takes sides and with every interview supporting this release, stories are changing just as fast as the scribes can print them. I also refuse to get into all that Roth versus Hagar bullshit; I have seen Sammy Hagar live and the dude has a killer voice and gives 100% on stage. I’m not going to bang on about this incarnation of Van Halen not being complete because of the fact that, for whatever reason, original bassist Michael Anthony has been replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s 21 year old son Wolfgang, who, to be fair, has been gigging with the band off and on since he was fifteen.
So, having said all of that, you can rightly ascertain that I don’t give a toss about any of that because to me Van Halen is really about magic – always has been, and that magic is the power of two men joining forces and creating their special brew of power-pop-rock, whatever you want to call it. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth (aka Diamond Dave) are Van Halen whether they like it or not. At their best they were untouchable. And still toady, with the release of this brand-spanking new album, they remain great. Each must flick a switch in the other that only they can because everything on A Different Kind Of Truth (the twelfth VH studio album) is reminiscent of their glory days, before the egos and synthesizers took over the band.
This is a fantastic guitar-driven rock album that sits comfortably with their releases from their debut through to the very early 1980’s. Eddie’s riffs are massive and Dave’s voice is strong and easily up for the task. The rhythm section of Wolfgang and drummer Alex Van Halen is as tight and heavy as you could wish for. There is only one downer that I can come up with here and it’s the simple fact that the opening song and lead single “Tattoo” is one of the worst songs that this band (or Roth for that matter) have ever recorded. It’s just a dumb and generic cock-rocker that spoils the party and whimpers next to the muscle of the remaining material.
But the rest of the album just sizzles with massive chunks of ‘70s guitar rock and some of the most danceable rock ‘n’ roll I have heard in ages. There are so many cool songs here, so I’m not going to ramble on about each one, but there are several standouts worth a mention before I wrap this review up. Starting out are the fantastic “You And Your Blues” and “China Town,” which are classic VH moments. “Bullethead” is fast and furious and “She’s The Woman” is just a big fat does of funk-rock – damn good fun, these two. “Outta Space” is possibly my favorite song on the record (I say possibly because its so hard to pick favorites when you’re presented with such great stuff). “Stay Frosty” is Roth at his usual comedic self, but it also rocks and swaggers like the man himself. The furious pace of the record is consistent right to the end with the closer “Beats Workin’,” which I hope they play live because I think it would sound even better onstage.
To sum up, I’ll say this: Van Halen is back and it sounds like they missed us just as much as we missed them. Get this, turn it way up, and rejoice.