Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth

A RARE REPEAT SUCCESS                                                         
Reviewer: Skeeter                                                                                  
Artist: Van Halen
Album: A Different Kind of Truth                                                      
Released: February 2012    

Okay, bud. The new Halen rips, eh? It’s official, straight from the mouth of the magGots. Time seems to have ravaged these boys in every way imaginable EXCEPT the onset of maggots. These leather-faced ladies have dragged themselves once again,…reluctantly, together around that chainsaw guitar sound of Sir Edward Van Halen esq. and laid it down.

Now, I’m no Van Halen freak. Never actually bought a VH record after the 1978 debut, but I like em plenty. I even just recently got old enough to respect the enduring talents of Grama Sammy Hagar. It took me a little while to even get curious about the new stuff, much less start to relax and enjoy it for what it is. So here we are: a half a year later where I, Ryan ‘Skeeter MagGot’ O.Neil find it important to tell the whole entire innarweebs that “A Different Kind of Truth” lives up to most any of the classic releases from the original lineup.

“Stay Frosty” is a perfect middle-aged rendition of that cheesy  shooby-do-wah shit they used to do like “Ice Cream Man” from the first record. The title is such a cheezy oldschool sentiment that it made me chuckle the first few times I heard it. Hell, the name could’ve been “Eat Pussy” and it would’ve fit within the young Halen attitude, but dammit, it would have been dishonest on this album. The “Truth” is this: Old crusty Dutchmen look (and probably feel) like shit, but they can still rrrrip with the best. So they dig up that unforgettable clown they used to roll with to see if, together again, they can offer the fans the old chemistry they’ve been begging for since 1984. So dare I say it’s age appropriate, and it’s great.

The first single release was a mistake. “New Tattoo” is solid album filler but nothing that should have been the anthem for Van Halen’s charge back into the crumbling rock kingdom. It should have been “China Town” or “She’s the Woman”  which both rule all ass!

“China Town” is bitch-slapping locomotive of a song, with old balls boldly hanging out the leg of a raggedy pair of jean shorts. Guitars skwee-ing and squabbling like a pissed off beehive. DAMN! That’s all.

“As Is” brings back that relentless Alex Van Halen double bass drum charge we know and love, with Diamond Dave’s self deprecating lyrics ” Once I was a bum and broke, Now I am a star and broke, In this town that’s called progress.” Didn’t someone tell him that ‘broke’ rhymes with ‘coke’? C’mon Dave, if your turning it back on yourself, let it all hang out! Anyways the message rings true for the whole album, enjoy and accept it as is.

Dave screeches at the top of his register like a distressed dog on “Beats Working”, a mid tempo grinder with all the genius EVH licks. Definitely a creeper of a song, it took me quite a while to realize it’s one of the strongest tunes on the whole thing, if not the best.

They don’t seem to be trying too hard on “Big River”, and that’s a good thing. With seeming ease they pop put a solid SOLID summer rock song. Man, even the solo seems understated. Same thing for “Blood and Fire” an epic summer tune with a dozen different parts, some bombastic and some reeled in. Agh, the song is done and I feel like I just got back from spring break at Picton Beach, dere Kingston boyos.

“Honeybabysweetiedoll” is why I love Roth and his role in the band: that of ‘epic song ruiner’. I’m sure in the 14 years since they released a record, the Van Halen brothers have amassed a plethora of well-worked material looking to be unleashed. Then ol’ Dave gets his sparkly mitts on it and retools monstrous thundering…, fucking medieval riffs into a gaped-mouth-smile-hands-a-waving muppet-fest. Take that pie to the face, Eddy.

Alex’s big airy drums lead in “Outta Space.” This seems the most like I’d imagine a 90’s version of VH with David Lee Roth, if they’d recorded something new. David does the old school vocal squeals with aplomb, but also tried some newer vocal techniques. I say newer cuz new wouldn’t float unless it was still 1998. New for Roth, anyways.

Then there’s the last two tracks, both very interesting and refreshing from the boys. “The Trouble With Never” just restates why I love Alex’s drums, just so big and energetic, like an unstoppable machine, but with such feel. Roth takes every twist and turn the song offers as another chance to get every zany idea, dirty limerick, and triple-entendre he’s thought of in the last decade.  I imagine him in real life like that very talkative but extremely unemployable schmuck that accosts you on the subway and regales you with unsolicited tales of jail sentences past.

I don’t feel like reviewing “You and Your Blues.” go listen to it yourself. It’s good. There.

The unfortunate thing about this release is that the bassist is no longer Michael Anthony. Well, let me rephrase that a little: It’s too bad that Michael Anthony isn’t the bassist, because I missed his backing vocals. I’m sure Eddy Van Halen laid down the bass on “Truth” and I’m also certain he’s a better bass player than Michael Anthony. Hell he’s probably a better trumpet player than Miles Davis! But that’s the one thing Eddy has not, is a voice. He sold that to Pall, and his brother Mall.

Speaking of voices, it’s very apparent they did a bunch of studio work into Roth’s vocals, so if your ready for that then by all means check out this great reunion album. History reports that getting one of these right is a rare occurrence.

Anyways you get the point and I hate track by track reviews.

Hasta la penis, magGots!

Skeeter