Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope) ****
Even prior to this release seeing the light of day much was said and speculated. There was a report that a large bulk of this material is actually very old, but remained unreleased, and locked in the vaults. Sammy Hagar didn't seem to like it, and Michael Anthony still absent from the line up. But, this was Van Halen with David Lee Roth, the way the band was intended to be heard.
From the first listen onward, the album is a heavy hitter. It has that classic feel and style. And let's not forget how different of a beast the band had become with Hagar behind the microphone. They were absolutely able to recover that David Lee Roth era dynamic. Perhaps it's because these songs are not necessary new or so. Whatever it is, it works!
"A Different Kind of Truth" does not have any of the big Van Halen anthems, but it's a solid record, very reminiscent of "Fair Warning," Women and Children First" time frame. The tracks vary from mid paced, to out of control fast. Eddie's guitar is out there in your face, and the leads are just blistering. It's definitely the Van Halen you knew and loved in the early 80s. David Lee Roth sings great, while he's limited on the higher register these days, and makes up for it with an incredible charisma. After all, this is Diamond Dave, the guy who wore "the assless pants." The album is full of attitude, and some great lyrics. And the unbelievable rhythms served by the drummer Alex Van Halen, with some good assistance from his nephew Wolfy.
There are many great tracks on the album. While the first single, "Tattoo" is little bit misleading, the other tracks grab with a punch. "She's The Woman," and "You and Your Blues" sound as if they were removed from Van Halen II. "China Town" and "Bullethead" fly with a very fast rhythm. Most interesting tracks is "Honeybabysweetiedoll" with a great riff that could've easily been used on the early Rainbow, only in a very Van Halenized mode here. It's quite impressive how Eddie Van Halen approached those mid-eastern scales. "The Trouble with Never" is another great track, full of great guitar, and very clever lyrics from Roth.
"A Different Kind of Truth" is a fine slice of Americana, done in time when it's very difficult to revive that spirit. Van Halen follows its own formula with a winning effect, after all they wrote all the rules, didn't they? This album, as good as it is, has a very transitional feel. Either the band will follow it with something really big, or the group will simply run out of gas and deteriorate. My bet is on part one of that previous sentence.