Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth Album Review

The Van Halen saga still has mileage left in the tank!

rating: 3.5

The €˜will they, won€™t they€™ saga revolving around their reunion and who would be in it could fill entire novels. After 1999€™s poorly received Van Halen III, their only album with Gary Cherone on vocals, the band went on hiatus. Four years later, the band reunited with Sammy Hagar for the first time since 1996, after he left due to the band secretly recording with David Lee Roth. After a two year reunion tour, Eddie decided he didn€™t want to continue with Hagar, and instead contacted Roth for a second reunion. Hagar said at the time that he was done with the band, but then changed his mind and has since expressed interest in returning. In spite of this, the line up of Roth, the Van Halen brothers of Eddie and Alex, and new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie€™s son, replacing Michael Anthony who left with Hagar) have somehow managed to stay together long enough to record and release A Different Kind Of Truth, the first Van Halen album in 14 years and their first with David Lee Roth for 28 years. Keeping up? Me neither. Like I said, rock and roll€™s greatest soap opera. A storyline that even Coronation Street couldn€™t come up with. So, I guess the real question you€™ll be asking is after over quarter of a century of Eddie Van Halen and Roth bickering and making up and bickering and making up, is the album any good? Certainly when the band released the opening track of the record, Tattoo, as a single last month, the world raised a collective eyebrow to its heavily over-produced chorus and general mediocrity. After listening to the entire album, the decision to release it as the first track is truly baffling, as it is by far one of the weakest songs on the whole album. Sure, the chorus is catchy, but in more of an irritating way than a positive. A Different Kind Of Truth is a slow starting album, with the opening three tracks being fairly forgettable until the only too familiar shredding of Eddie Van Halen ushers in China Town, which hurtles out of the speakers. This is the first glimpse of the real Van Halen, with a riff as if it€™s on speed, memorable chorus and Eddie being let loose on his guitar. These are the moments that this album is worth listening to: hearing Eddie Van Halen throw out solos like only he can. To be honest, the album is worth listening to simply for the work of Eddie, some of the intricate riffs and solos he comes out with are pure Van Halen, such as the industrial-tinged Honeysweetiebabydoll, as well as the bluesy Stay Frosty which transitions into a crushing hard rock song, and the seemingly infinite solos to Big River, which all act as album highlights. The instrumental section of Van Halen shines throughout the album, as unfortunately David Lee Roth struggles to be the frontman he used to be. There is nothing particularly wrong with his performance, but I couldn€™t help but compare him unfavourably to KISS€™ Paul Stanley at many points during the album as it sounds somewhat similar to their latest output, Sonic Boom. Combining this with the technical prowess of the Van Halen family means Roth sticks out as the weak link of the album, but the sheer exhilaration of hearing David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen collaborating after all these years is a joy to hear. Van Halen€™s latest offering won€™t win any end of year best-of awards, and the majority of the songs aren€™t likely to stay in the live setlist after the inevitable album tour, but as far as a selection of new tracks from one of the all time great guitar bands, there€™s a lot of fun to be had here. Whether or not the guys will still be together this time next year is a completely different story, but the Van Halen saga still has mileage left in the tank. Van Halen's A Different Kind of Truth was released on Monday and is available now.
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Multimedia journalism student at Bournemouth University, my dream is to one day be paid to lie in bed, listen to music, and go to gigs. Follow me on Twitter @dandonnelly_ or find me on last.fm @DanDy57.