Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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VH ADKOT Day 1: “Tattoo”

Alright, here’s Day 1 of my review of the new Van Halen album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”.

One of the questions that faces the “new/old” Van Halen is whether Edward’s son Wolfgang would be able to replace Michael Anthony’s legendary backup vocals. C’mon folks let’s face it… Anthony is irreplacable as a background vocalist in any rock band.

As VH opens the album up with the harmonious repeats of “Tat-too, Tat-too”, you can hear not only how tight vocally this band is, even with the replacement of Anthony, Roth’s age, and Edward’s oral cancer issues, but they SOUND GREAT. As I mentioned above, Wolfgang isn’t a replacement for Anthony, he is his own musician, and he’s his own vocalist, and you can clearly hear Wolfgang hitting the high registers that Anthony was known for, and it sounds awesome. That’s all I can ask for.

Edward then continues kicking things off with a grungy pick slide and a nice short guitar lead to open the song, and then we’re introduced to the new sound of Van Halen. Edward’s tone is amazing. The drums sound great. Unlike most other albums, the bass is way up in the mix. Almost impossibly, Roth sounds the same as he did 25 years ago, minus a little bit of weakness on the high end. The production values are instantly high-quality.

In short… the “new old” Van Halen sounds AWESOME. In 2012.

The ripping introduction quickly settles into a drum and bass groove along with Roth’s vocals and some subtle keyboard and guitar in the background to accent before the rythym guitar is added to round out the sound, before song settles into it’s cycle of groove in the verse, punch in the bridge, and full blown sound in the chorus.

We get to the first guitar solo, and folks… Edward is back. He’s in fine form on “Tattoo”, hitting harmonics, deep bends, and his iconic mix of tapping and quick picking is prevalent. Musically, it’s a pretty good solo, and the band heads into it’s swelling crescendo and Roth’s ad-libbing to close out the song with Edward busting out some more licks and soloing over top of Roth before ending up with some guitar swells reminiscent of Diver Down’s “Cathedral”, yet this is full of distortion and crunch and it’s a nice taper-off to counter the giant build and swell of the prior 30 seconds or so.

Overall: As I mentioned earlier, the band sounds amazing, and the production is top-notch. Edward is on fire, Wolfgang can obviously keep up. Alex bangs out a solid rythym but nothing spectacular on this particular song, and Roth is in fine form. You can tell he doesn’t have the high end any more, but his spoken word in this song is great.

I don’t know if I would have chosen this song overall for the first single and first track on the album, as if I were VH, after nearly 15 years I would have wanted to come out and blast everyone’s faces off rather than go with a more groovy styled song, but “Tattoo” is a solid song in it’s own right.

Score: 8 out of 10

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