After fourteen years of silence, Van Halen is back and still rocking as hard as ever. A Different Kind of Truth sees the return of David Lee Roth as front man along with Alex Van Halen, brother Eddie Van Halen with Eddie’s son and new bassist, Wolfgang Van Halen.
According to Roth, A Different Kind of Truth can be seen as a collaboration between Van Halen’s past and their present. For example, the incorporation of “Blood and Fire” featured as an instrumental in the 1984 film The Wild Life.
The first single off the album, “Tattoo”, went straight to the top of the Billboard Hard Rock Singles Chart after its release. This might be the indicator of the mark the album is set to leave in rock ‘n’ roll history since this is, surprisingly enough, the most disappointing song on the album. One almost gets a sense that this song was only included to draw the mainstream music world’s attention.
“Honeybabysweetiedoll” opens with a bizarre assortment of guitar feedback and a distorted bass line before showcasing the band’s talent. Eddie Van Halen shreds like only he can throughout the song, while Roth lays down lyrics that speak of a dysfunctional love: “Honeybaby my hearts aflame, I’m all up and you’re to blame.” Through all of this, Wolfgang and Alex don’t miss a single beat and help to create a sinister-sounding song that you want to put on repeat while driving at breakneck speeds on a highway.
“Stay Frosty” brings the sounds of country music and rhythm and blues together. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics comment on religions and how ridiculous some of the beliefs and practices of these groups seem to the old school rockers: “You want to be a monk, you have to cook a lot of rice” – in other words, not for the easily ofended. The track also addresses the journey people make to find the answers to their questions but, more often than not, never find them.
“Bullethead” feels like a two-minute thirty-second crash course in Van Halen music. It’s balls to the walls from the first note and before you know it, it’s all over, leaving the listener disorientated. This is Van Halen at their best and reiterates their right to the rock ‘n’ roll throne.
A Different Kind of Truth serves as proof that old school rock is not dead – bands do not need a host of electronic sounds and strange gimmicks to keep the spirit of rock alive.