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Review: Van Halen Reunion Record Avoids The Suck, Rocks Out ’70s Style

Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth Are Back

When I first heard the single “Tattoo” from the new Van Halen record “A Different Kind of Truth,” I was fully prepared to write the record off as another waste of time from a classic band grasping for air as they try to milk the reunion machine. “Tattoo” is awful. Why the record suit and tie machine decided that would be the single is beyond comprehension. It gives the record a terrible perception upon first listen.

Nine times out of ten, I have zero hope that when a band long broken up reforms it’ll be any good. Black Sabbath is well on their way with this exact formula right now with the firing of Bill Ward. Reunions generally end up in a very bad place, and very quickly when they’re as big as Van Halen.

When Van Halen got back together with David Lee Roth, everyone took a deep breath and hoped it would last for more than 5 minutes, and well, it actually did. While scores of fans weren’t happy that Michael Anthony wasn’t in the mix any longer, we were happy to know that we’d never have to endure anything live with Sammy Hager ever again. When the band said it was time to record a new album, a lot people, myself very much included rolled our eyes, and waited for it to suck.

What I was I was pleasantly surprised to find while listening to “A Different Kind of Truth” was that it’s an homage to the bands original, hard rock roots with a dose of the Diamond Dave signature party feeling that sent them to the stratosphere decades ago.

“A Different kind of Truth” is actually a solid record, in context, of course.

Is it “Diver Down?” No, absolutely not, but what it is, is a solid guitar record with plenty of Eddie Van Halen brand face melters, and plenty of stomping bass riffs that, Eddie’s fat goon son Wolfgang manages to make us forget that Michael Anthony is long gone.

The songs are heavy; there is a sense of frantic “we can still do this better than anyone” to the music. It wasn’t an attempt at re-inventing the wheel as they tried to do all those years with Sammy Hager, and later the comically terrible, guy from Extreme.

But, consternation aside, they’ve still got it.

Van Halen's New Album Avoids The Suck

They’re still able to write songs that sound like they were B-sides from a 1983 session in between the drained bottles of booze, and dead hookers laying in between piles of Diamond Dave’s pink leggings. “As Is” is a finger tapping beast, that could have come directly after “Dance the night away” while “Bullethead” features some slick drumming by Alex whom is creeping toward 60 at this point.

I wanted to trash this record and say it was bland, and a waste of time. Like SO many artists, who’s legacy is ruined like Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, these reunions can end up miserable. Thankfully, Van Halen aren’t in that pack. They wrote a great record filled with songs that local radio jockey’s will gladly toss into rotation, hoping to never have to play Hinder or Seether ever again.

“Outta Space” features a load of Eddie’s best riff’s he somehow forgot to play whenever David Lee Roth wasn’t in the band. It features those signature dual harmonies with a fast array of riffs that bring back memories of the classic shaggy haired Eddie diving off amps and being the madman he once was. The record feels like hanging out with an old friend who you used to drink heavily with and make terrible decisions with, only now when you do you, you have to hide it from your wife in fear of divorce.

“Stay Frosty” is another “Dave” song like “Ice Cream Man” that tickled radio waves all those decades ago. It’s not serious; there are no bullshit “Right Now” moments of self aggrading pats on the back for being green or whatever. This is pure old school party rock in the greatest sense that the used condoms known as LMFAO wouldn’t know a thing about.

The guys in Van Halen pulled off a rare feat, they managed to write a record that isn’t lame, better than what they released in the prior 20 years of the Hager era. It feels like a continuation of sorts, almost like “Revenge of The Sith” to the original Star Wars Trilogy. Is it comparable to the rest? No way. But, in the context of the other two crap films, and bad overacting, it kind of feels nice to see a little evil again, even with Anakin’s weird child killing. David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen are back, and ready to storm arenas again, and thankfully for the fans who’s asses will be in the seats, when the band wants to “play some new stuff” no one will be heading for the bathroom or a smoke.

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4 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Dan posted February 11, 2012 at 10:04

    I think that you must be drinking Roth’s bong water if you don’t think this cd absolutely sucks! Dave’s voice is shot; the music is mediocre at best and repetitive.

  • Comment by ted posted February 19, 2012 at 11:26

    that’s am honest review so far as the admission that this album is no where near the level of the best DLR stuff, but let’s be honest

    So, I have now heard the new Van Halen album, it’s not the worst album I’ve ever heard, but it is the worst album I ever listened straight through.

    DLR was Sinatra compared to how he ‘sings’ now.

    Without Michael Anthony the ‘harmonies’ sound like howling cats.

    If I didn’t know it was Ed playing, I would have thought Ed had died and been replaced by someone who was such a bad imitation that Ed was spinning fast enough in his grave to solve the energy crisis.

    On several songs, DLR actually seems to be trying to sound like Sammy Hagar.

    On a few songs Ed actually seems to be trying to play like Slash.

    Most of the songs have retread chunks from earlier VH albums.

    The ‘lyrics’ must have been the result of a word jumble.

    I didn’t expect much, and that’s what I got

  • Comment by Mr. Jubba posted March 05, 2012 at 15:46

    Nice to see a couple of Sammy’s thrown away hookers posting comments on the new VH. Great insight, whores.

  • Comment by Lisa posted April 22, 2012 at 13:44

    Saw them last night in Greensboro,,, WORST CONCERT out of 100 that I have EVER seen!!! Should get a REFUND!!! Who wants to see a cracked out looking so called man, grab his nuts and keep rubbing them like he has crabs and saying it is hot??? GROSS!! This came 2 songs after he just acknowledged parents and thanked them for bringing their children. I have listened to Van Halen since the 80′s and I was disappointed. Their new songs suck!! It wont be long until they are out the door for good…If you want to see a good show…. check out Kiss, Aerosmith. Its really sad to say that you spend over $300 for you and your spouse to see Van Halen, and you enjoyed the opening act better. Kool and the Gang actually rocked!!