Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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VH ADKOT Day 4: “China Town”

Alright, getting back into this after some really busy times!

An interesting bit of what sounds like tapping from Edward leads into some crashing drums and power chords that instantly takes us into an absolute earthquake of drums and bass underneath some crunchy guitar and I’ve grabbed onto my desk to brace for the upcoming destruction of the world…

… and then I’m a bit underwhelmed. The earth stops shaking, and the walls stop crumbling around me. The song progresses into a good driving riff by Edward and matched by Wolfgang on bass, but there’s something about the vocals that subdues it all. Not to say that it’s “bad” – DLR rather sounds excellent, his voice strong in the upper range, but it’s like it doesn’t match the song underneath. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s like it’s two very different parts – the music and the vocals – but they don’t gel well together.

This is indicative of the rest of the song as well. Musically, I think this song is excellent. It drives and pounds in all the right spots, and Edward fuses lead and rythym together as only he can. Wolfgang is a monster on bass as he keeps up with his dad note for note. The backup vocals are impeccable, and Alex is spot on with the drums, but I just keep coming back to the lead vocal just being… off.

The guitar solo is an exhibition of Edward’s work with the whammy bar. He has harmonics and notes dipping and diving all over the place, and shows that he’s still got the speed in his chops as he shreds through some scale work, capping it off with some tapping that matches the start of the song.

Overall: As I said before, musically, this song is top notch. Love it. And it’s not that Dave does a poor job, I just don’t think the combination of the melody and his voice is a true fit for the music, and that kinda bums me out on the song on the whole. I would give this one much lower marks, but the music is just SO good that it saved the song for me.

Score: 7 out of 10

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VH ADKOT Day 3: “You And Your Blues”

I’m not entirely sure if this song is one of the redone demos or if it’s a new song, but this one opens up with a guitar riff that sounds like it might have been written in the 5150 days – a nice muted-picking number that’s a good melody in it’s own right.

Dave sings a few lines by himself over the guitar, then the bass accents a few spots here and there while Alex keeps time on just the high-hat. All this is adding layer over layer, building wonderfully to a drum fill and the entire band kicking in to the start of the song, and I really like the musicality in this.

But as the song actually gets going, I’m not sure what kind of song this one is trying to be. The guitar riff and the instrument layering at the start is very rock, but when we finally get going, it’s decidedly different pop sound that we’re greeted with for the bridge, but that leads right back into a really rocking verse. I’m a little confused by that, but even when you add it all together, it all still sounds just awesome.

But then, as we get into the middle of the song, it’s like it’s a Festivus miracle. The lead in to the guitar solo is a different kind of low-end riff with some more Dave over top, and then Eddie proceeds to blast our faces off with another excellent solo, leaning on a wah-pedal for most of it, adding yet another tasty layer to this wonderful cake that VH is serving up.

Coming out of the guitar solo, Dave absolutely TEARS. IT. UP. Forget what I said in the previous post about him not having the high registers – maybe he sounded that way on purpose, but DAMN he tore it up in this song. I’m not talking the squeals and yells of yesteryear, but Dave was blasting out high end vocals with the power of a freight train rolling down the tracks. Absolutely tremendous. Add Wolfgang puts a giant exclamation point on the end of the song with some wicked high-speed runs, and we get another perfect performance on drums by Alex.

Overall:  This song has Edward’s signature all over it. I love the riff at the start. The solo is damned sweet. Wolfgang’s part is minimal in this one, but he still finds a way to leave his own statement at the end of the song, and once again, Alex lays out another solid performance. However, the star of this one is David Lee Roth who blasts out a top-notch Dave-esque show on vocals, and shows us at nearly 60 that he’s still got the goods.

Score: 9 out of 10

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VH ADKOT Day 2: “She’s The Woman”

The second song on the new Van Halen album “A Different Kind Of Truth” is one of those songs from the late 70’s/early 80’s that was redone for this new album, and you can tell. This sounds like something you might have heard on the first or second album, and personally, this sounds very much like the style of the songs from the first Van Halen album.

This song opens up with Eddie playing a quick lead over a quick repetitive bass run from Wolfgang, and leads into the first time the album really rips your face off as this one kicks in HARD. Wolfgang’s pounding bass line underneath Eddie’s staccato riff along with Alex’s drums really makes you get into this one straight from the beginning. I can see where this would be a fantastic song to play live – the way the song is structured and even the simple mechanics of playing this song would be HUGE in a live setting in an arena. It just sounds very raw and powerful, the essesnce of a great VH song.

Eddie’s licks and runs between the verses tie the song together very well, and the chorus is a classic repeated vocal line over some big power chords, and Edward has a nice solo in this song as well – it’s more musical than the one in “Tattoo”, and then Edward finishes it off with some quick scales reminiscient of the solo in “Jump”. All the way through the song, Wolfgang lays down a very solid foundation, but he gets his moments to shine and he nails some excellent runs and licks as exclaimation points in between the rest of the parts of the song. Alex is solid as ever, and Roth sounds perfect.

Overall: “She’s The Woman” would have been an excellent choice to open the album with rather than “Tattoo” – the song is heavy, fun, and vintage Van Halen. Each of the band members adds their own mark to the song, and it’s an excellent listen.

Score: 9 out of 10

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Look At All The People Here Tonight!

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you couldn’t have possibly missed what happened just a few days ago.

Rock legends VAN HALEN released their first studio album since Van Halen III in 1998 and their first album with iconic frontman David Lee Roth since 1984. “A Different Kind Of Truth” dropped onto store shelves and into the waiting hands of legions of fans who have been waiting with baited breath for well over a decade  for a new album by arguably the biggest rock band that’s ever walked this planet.

Today’s Van Halen looks a lot different than the last version of Van Halen yet the band returns to it’s rock roots, as Edward Van Halen (guitar) and his brother Alex Van Halen (drums) reunite with the band’s original lead singer David Lee Roth, and the trio also gets an injection of youth as Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen (bass) plays on his first studio album (although he has previously toured with the band).

“A Different Kind Of Truth” is the band’s 12th studio album, and as 3/4 of the band approach their mid-to-late fifties, the album is filled with music that sounds like it was made when they were in their 20’s. Six of the album’s 13 tracks are reworked songs from the band’s early years, while the other seven are brand new songs.

This post is an introduction; over the next 13 days, I’ll be reviewing every single one of the tracks from the new album, one every day until I’ve covered them all. Check back every day to see what I think of each new track, and on Day 14 I’ll wrap things up.

Run out and grab “A Different Kind Of Truth” right now and follow along!