Album review: Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Album Reviews

It’s been 28 long years since David Lee Roth recorded an album with Van Halen, and most fans had given up hope they’d ever see the rock titans reunite.
They got together briefly in the mid 90s to record a couple tracks for a greatest hits compilation, before that reunion combusted under the most acrimonious of circumstances, leading many to believe the brothers Van Halen would never work with Roth again.
Well, time heals all wounds. Or maybe just money, but the guys got back together for a successful tour in 2007 with Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang taking over the reins for bassist Michael Anthony.
They’ve finally come together in the recording studio, and the first Roth-fronted Van Halen album since 1984 was the result.
A Different Kind of Truth arrived in stores last week and it certainly was worth the wait. Some of the tracks are reported to have been derived from old incomplete demos dating back to the mid 70s, while others were new creations entirely.
If the band tapped into its back log of material, the album is no worse for the wear. In fact, it might help give it an authentic Van Halen prime era feel to it. Eddie is in fine playing form throughout, Alex bangs on the skins with usual applomb and Wolfgang blends in beautifully as well.
More than anything though, it’s great to have Roth back in the fold. Leadoff single “Tattoo” is a decent reintroduction to the band, but it’s actually the worst song on the album in my estimation. Eddie really shreds on tracks like “China Town,” “Bullethead” and “As Is” as he plays fast and lout throughout.
Roth brings in his usual good-natured humor, and at times you feel transported to the band’s heyday on tracks like “You and Your Blues,” “Blood and Fire” and “Beats Workin.”
Overall, there isn’t a slam-dunk surefire classic in the mold of “Unchained,” “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” or “Panama” but what we do have is the most steady and consistent Van Halen album in years, and one of the heaviest in the band’s canon. It exceeded my expectations in every way. A grand comeback for a great band.

Sod rating: ****

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