To be honest this is something of a big deal. Even before a note has been heard, what I have in my hands is arguably the first important release from Van Halen in decades. No offence to Sammy and Gary, but Van Halen with Dave Lee Roth is really truly Van Halen in my book, and A Different Kind of Truth is the first album of new material since 1984.
Opening with the frankly brilliant ‘Tattoo‘ it is clear from the outset that it is “business as usual” and this would always have been the next album if Dave hadn’t parted ways. Clever, light, funny and musically tight the song is exactly what you expect from that classic era of Van Halen. Sure, there’s a rumour reported in Blabbermouth that actually this is exactly the case – but who cares? It sounds superb and there is a real stench of sour grapes from ex-members.
The guitar playing on third track, ‘You and Your Blues’ is everything you’d expect from Eddie’s signature sound. It will bring a smile to any Van Halen fan as soon as it starts which shouldn’t let up until the song completes. There is no mushy ballad track to speak of – no ‘Sammy’ moment – and tracks such as ‘She’s The Woman’ and ‘China Town’ continue the frenetic and manic sound which flows through.
Dave Lee Roth sounds like he’s never been away with some very humorous lyrics such as in ‘The Trouble With Never’ or his conversation with the listener during ‘As Is’. It is so easy to imagine the younger Dave performing scissor kicks and fooling around on stage when you listen to him on here.
Not every song is fantastic, and there is a little variation in quality across the 13 tracks; tracks like ‘Bullethead’ are OK, but most notably it is ‘Stay Frosty’ which is acceptable at best. The album would not have suffered had the track not appeared even though it does mimic the sort of versatility in style which always occurred on early Halen albums.
A Different Kind of Truth is a great album which I’ve already listened to more than anything else this year. This ‘reformation’ could have been nothing but bad for the legacy, yet thankfully this album goes nowhere near “oh shit, why did you?” territory.
All in all it appears as if Van Halen had a lot of fun making this album and I hope it continues into their having fun touring; touring all the way to the UK please! Welcome back ‘classic’ Van Halen, now you’ve got here please stay a while!