New Van Halen album evokes old sound

By Jesse Gaunce
February 15, 2012

Van Halen’s new album “A Different Kind of Truth” was released on Feb. 7.

Van Halen fans, rejoice. After years of waiting, you can finally “Jump” out of your seats for David Lee Roth (vocals), Eddie (guitar), Wolfgang (bass) and Alex (drums) Van Halen once again. The legendary rock icons have finally put out a brand new album entitled “A Different Kind of Truth,” which is the band’s first new album since “Van Halen III,” dropped in 1998.

This is also the first album that features Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen’s son, on bass.

Before I continue, for those who don’t know, all of the members of the band besides Roth are related and named the band after their real last name, Van Halen.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

“A Different Kind of Truth” was released on Feb. 7 and has been well-received by critics. USA Today even went as far as to say that the album “is the true kick in the butt that arena rock desperately needed,” despite missing former bassist and backing vocal extraordinaire Michael Anthony, now with Chickenfoot.

Roth’s voice has never sounded better. In fact, the entire band sounds great on basically every song.

In a recent interview, Roth described the songs on the new album as “sort of a collaboration with Van Halen’s past.”  Riffs from some of the songs date back to 1970s and 1980s.

That being said, every track on this album is a testament to Van Halen’s classic, in-your-face sound and is put on display right away with the opening track and hit-single, “Tattoo.”

“Tattoo” kicks off with Roth and guitarist Eddie singing “tattoo, tattoo” with the guitar and drums coming in right after in the most riveting manner.

The meaning of “Tattoo” is self-explanatory. When Roth starts off by singing “I got Elvis on my elbow. When I flex, Elvis talks,” you can tell right away where he’s going.

Roth’s always-witty lyrics are meant to appeal to every and all generations simply because a plethora of teenagers and adults alike get tattoos or at the very least, like them.

However, not all of the songs start off with that hard sound that you hear in “Tattoo.”

Straying away from the hard rock aspect for about a minute or two, the song “Stay Frosty,” the 11th song on the album, starts off as an acoustic, bluesy-sounding song, which then turns into a bluesy hard rock song. The song gives fans a feeling of nostalgia because it features resemblance to “Ice Cream Man” off of their debut album “Van Halen.”

Also, for anyone who thought Eddie’s best solos were behind him, listen to “Big River” and “Blood and Fire.” Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

Through all the trials and tribulations, from Roth leaving the band for a long period of time in the 80s, to Eddie’s alcohol abuse, to Anthony’s departure, Van Halen has withstood the test of time and have given fans something to get excited about.

If you’re a fan of Van Halen’s old stuff like I am, you will be pleasantly surprised by what this album provides.

To paraphrase USA Today, it truly is exactly what rock music needed. So for anyone who says rock is completely dead, Van Halen says otherwise.

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Jesse Gaunce

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