Van Halen's A Different Kind of Truth: A First Listen

Categories: First Listens
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Van Halen is about one thing: revenge. Eddie brought in Sammy to get rid of Dave, flirted with Dave again to get rid of Sammy, brought in Gary Cherone to clear out the building, trained his own son to replace his most loyal member, and brought Dave back in for now. Don't be surprised if he cans his own son yet. And there's even a theory that he picked an intentionally terrible first single ("Tattoo") to humiliate Dave and the fans who dared beg for his return. None of this is below him. But is a good album?

"Tattoo"
"Tattoo" is indeed very stupid. "Tat-too/Tat-too" is not a hook, a slow, bluesy vamp isn't an opening track, and David Lee Roth sounds bored trying to do Anthony Kiedis/Steven Tyler rap nonsense ("Swap meet Sally" actually sounds like "swamp meat salad"). The second verse basso voiceover is very stupid. But it's not unlistenable. And it's bad in ways that don't feel wrong; sleazy trash is fine for this band. Cherone's funk-ballads were not.


"She's the Woman"
Cute sexist touch: A song called "She's the Woman" begins with an intro riff akin to an alarm sounding. Woman patrol, shut it down, shut it down! This one's a double-time, wah-wah boogie a la "Welcome to the Jungle" featuring the standout Daveism "I want to be your knight in shining pickup truck" and a typically scale-jumping solo. Exceeds expectations.

"You and Your Blues"
Another crawling vamp, name-checking stuff like "Midnight Train to Georgia" and, LOL, "19th Nervous Breakdown" that has absolutely nothing to do with them. Dave's voice is getting strange. His chorus bellow is like the mock-serious tone "Weird Al" Yankovic affected on "Dare to Be Stupid." And is he screeching "Woman, suffer for my color"? Still, the backup "ahhh-ahhhs" (good job Wolfgang!) are sufficient hookcraft to justify this song's existence. Or do I mean witchcraft?

"China Town"
This intro's fucking rad, it sounds like a vintage Nintendo game's intro screen until those laser-hot fingers pull away from the fretboard and damn, Eddie again. I've never remembered Alex's drumming being so battering ram-like before -- this is speed metal. Dave still sounds like he's just talking, and I have no idea what he's talking about. Or why he's ominously welcoming me to Chinatown. Opium? Eddie solos and outros like a drill bit.

"Blood and Fire"
The most songful thing here so far, though Dave really needs double-tracking to stay in key, and his stuffed manner of wordplay is starting to frustrate. It leaves no room for innuendo, or emotion, or even particularly expressive stupidity. If this is of any use to Juggalos, they'll have to strain to find out. If this wasn't so knotty I'd call it for a single. Pretty things blurring by, though, solo reminiscent of "Unchained." Mmmm, "Unchained."

"Bullethead"
Wow, the second speed-metal one is also the second one to reference protest-era Dylan. Wolfie's really earning his bass lumber here -- it's amazing how out of the way he stays. Maybe it's fear.

"As Is"
More metal. Is it weird that I never remembered them being so metal? Were they ever? Are they trying to prove something? Were they sick of hyperromantic Sammy? For sure he never got to ad-lib the whatever-pops-into-his-head crap that Roth's given for moments at a time here because his satellite radio show was too horrifying a proposal.

"Honeybabysweetiedoll"
I have literally no idea what's going on in this intro -- is Wolfgang farting through a synthesizer? Treating his bass? Preparing a dubstep drop? When the riff kicks in it's almost incomprehensible, Eddie's sparks flying everywhere like he's in Blue Cheer or some kind of dark-psych grindcore outfit. It's kind of cool in a don't-know-which-way-is-up way, and I genuinely respect how they didn't use this title for a ballad. But they also could've called this one "Technicalproficiencywithnohook."


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31 comments
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swizzle
swizzle

This guys a jerk!  He has never listened to any of the earlier albums!  VH was never metal, my ass!

Heckle
Heckle

I am 52, saw VH with Sammy, saw VH with Dave (2007/2008) and just saw them in Philly with Kool & The Gang (Note: Kool & The Gang got dey sit togetha) ... VH was good for the energy required in your late 50's ... Dave was stiff and everytime he did a high kick I worried that he would break something (vocals were weak as is to be expected)  ... Eddie looked sober and straight for the first time ever (had to sit down for the solo .. but it was genious as always) ... Alex is Alex ... Baby Huey has more confidence now but he don't look right with the aging metal band... It's all about the cabbage baby (believe it!) .. the tour will probably gross 125 million at least.My most disturbing revelation was not the bands performance... it was looking around the stadium and seeing the fat and miserable 50 year old fans (some of them with their kids in tow) that looked painfully unable to get down anymore ... no more old guy concerts for me!

Ray Dio
Ray Dio

The album lacks hooks and Dave didn't really sing. Seriously? I guess we we listening to different albums...

Justin Marsh
Justin Marsh

This man makes a living being an acerbic asshole. Knowing that you'll meet a legion of him in hell is the primary motivation to "stay frosty."

buy to writing essay
buy to writing essay

first single from the new album impressed a lot. will see what will be with while CD

BigPapiRicoMan
BigPapiRicoMan

1) "Stay Frosty" - Yes you're a bad fan if you like it better.  "Ice Cream Man" is the rockin-est song on the first album.  Besides "You Really Got Me".  And "Runnin with the Devil". And "The Atomic Punk".  And "I'm the One".  Actually they all equally rock way better than this song.

2)  Were they ever metal?  All of "Fair Warning" is metal.  Take "Mean Streets" for example.  And video not-withstanding, "Hot for Teacher" is a pretty intense song. 

anthonyaap
anthonyaap

Dear Dan Weiss,

1. Do you even know what speed metal is?

2. You wrote, "More metal. Is it weird that I never remembered them beingso metal? Were they ever? Are they trying to prove something?"  Did you ever actually listen to the first four Van Halen Albums?

VH4EVR
VH4EVR

I'm proud of VH.  They went back to their roots to give us all what we needed so desperately to hear again.  Thank you so much Al, Dave, Ed, and Wolfie....  You guys have truly hit this one out of the park.  See you on tour !!

Ba5150
Ba5150

You obviously have a hard-on for Dave. sammy fan?

Rwbean
Rwbean

this guy dan weiss wrote the review without listening to the cd. it wound be laughable if anyone actually ever paid this idiot to write anythithing at all .

Alibazzi
Alibazzi

Finally an honest review.  It's a decent record but that's about it.  DLR can't sing.  For whatever reason, everyone talks like this is the 2nd coming of Christ.  I'm happy VH put out some new material but it's just not that great.

Sdpaxe
Sdpaxe

Seems like some critics really hate VH for being VH. So what if they used demos and tracks from the early days...it's still THIER music! I'm glad to hear Eddie playing better than ever as well as Alex. One thing missing from reviews is anything about Wolfgang's playing. I think it sounds incredible and fits in great. Loved Michael Anthony, but this is my type of bass playing. I don't care who dislikes this album, I love it. It's just a lot of fun. Something I think a lot of musicians have forgotten about is that's what it's supposed to be.

Sweendog
Sweendog

I agree with that sentiment regarding Wofgang's playing.  MA's backing harmonies are missed however.   It seems the latter VH recordings with Hagar, the bass was not as loud or pronounced.   Perhaps Eddie was so in control that he just wanted the bass as a background support for his riff and solo work.  Could it be that Wolfgang demanded that the bass be turned up and that the bass parts be made more complicated?  I hope so.  He is shredding on the bass.   Maybe MA didn't have enough power to make demands.   Wofgang may have said ..."Fuck dad!  Quit hogging the mixing board!  Turn my bass up!"  Whatever happened...the album kills!!!

Jill Simper
Jill Simper

woah, this is cause for a tattoo celebration. , I'm getting a new tattoo to honor my girlfriend in a way that only a some great body art could express, So, I found this site name tattoo ideas, showed me how to download some tattoo fonts and create a temporary tattoo. Also, got some sick tattoo ideas for 2012. Awesome.

Mugwomp
Mugwomp

"a slow, bluesy vamp isn't an opening track"~~~

You must have hated the opening tracks to Van Halen II (You're No Good) and Women and Children First (And The Cradle Will Rock) and Diver Down (Where Have All the Good Times Gone!).

Would have been nice to have a blogger that was familiar with Van Halen and not a self-appointed music "expert".

anthonyaap
anthonyaap

I think the writer has made it perfectly obvious that he only heard one or two Van Halen songs on the radio. He seems pretty clueless.

Anthony
Anthony

This review just sounds so much like some dick who tried but never made anywhere near the grade to make it himself. Never have I ever slagged off any music in this way whether I was a fan or not! And this guy gets paid for writing this crap??? Somebody get him sacked pleeeeaasse!

Sweendog
Sweendog

Can't remember VH as being "that heavy"?......Obviously never listened to Light Up the Sky, Sinner's Swing, Atomic Punk, One Step Out the Door.....    How does this guy get license to write a review with no knowledge of VH's catalogue?  They actually pay this guy?....

Mugwomp
Mugwomp

 Do amateur bloggers get paid? Good gods, I hope not.

The Atomic Punks are back, baby!

Going to be a rockin' summer...

Mr.Mike
Mr.Mike

Dave plays acoustic on Stay Frosty.  As he did in ICM.  

PAF wax
PAF wax

I'm a VH fan from waaaaay back in the day. I love A Different Kind of Truth, but I also like this review. Even though it's negative, it's funny, and offers a few insights. Plus, it lets me imagine Eddie in Blue Cheer. Damn, that would've been something. Move over Jimi, heads-up Eric, and, er, Leigh Stephens, you can be the guitar tech now. "I done called my congressman and he said quote -- dig this, boy" (dinosaur death noises)

Tauschitz
Tauschitz

Terrible review. Simply awful. He doesn't remember VH being this heavy? Is he serious? No ballads? After the years of sappy awful ballads from the Sammy years, THANK GOD.

This is a fantastic album.

Tom
Tom

Either that or maybe he is just yankin our chain and actually loves the band and only wrote what he did to get a rise out of us fans for attention.

Na....can't give him that much credit.

Tom
Tom

I don't know what else to take from this article other than it seems as if this guy is a Sammy Hagar fan and is bitter that Sammy is no longer the front man for VH. It seems that way with all the hate of the band, bashing Eddie and knocking Dave's singing. Funny though, through all what this idiot claims, Van Halen has changed the landscape of rock forever and are reaquainting themselves with the music world with an album that absolutely kicks ass!! Hey Dan, jealous much?

Matthew
Matthew

Mr. weiss asks if he is a bad fan for liking Stay Frosty better than Ice Cream man. No sir, you are a bad critic for lying to your readers ( if you have any) about this excellent album. Did you really criticize it for a lack of ballads? Then he goes on to say I don't remember VH being this metal? He concludes his review by calling the band A**holes. Twice! The classic rock world is rejoicing, while VH fans are misting up, and pinching them selves in disbelief over this incredible disc. I think you would prefer chickenfoot, mean while this band has added a second night at the Staples center. I am glad you liked Stay Frosty, it's good advice from a "nonsense yarn spinner"!

Mikeysny
Mikeysny

worst thing I have ever read, total a$$hole, not a single meaningful observation

Hank1980
Hank1980

So Sammys writing reviews again?? LOL..VAN HALEN IS BACK !!!!

Jyoung819
Jyoung819

How in the hell do you have a job? You honestly have no idea how to write a review or how to determine what is good music. I bet you're the guy who slams Van Halen one minute then goes off and listens to Michael Bolton. Get a life, loser. 

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

You nailed it! Picky music critic types are always sneaking off to listen to Michael Bolton!!

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