164: Co-Op

Sorry that this comic is going up a little late, just adjusting back to my normal schedule.  Tomorrow's should definitely be up earlier.  But now, I promised you guys a review, and after you read it, be sure to check out the MUSIC page to hear one of the tracks.  (These links that I always put to the music page work no matter what day you're reading this; it'll bring you to the same Van Halen song even if it's months later.)

Van Halen's new album, A Different Kind Of Truth, came out last week.  The album was very anticipated by fans because it saw the return of their first lead singer, David Lee Roth, who hadn't recorded an album with Van Halen since 1984.  The album was heavily publicized as "a return to Van Halen's roots", basically an attempt to make something that sounded like their early material with Roth.  In fact, some of the songs were just reworked material that they had written way back in the 70's, which left some people thrilled, and others apprehensive.  I'll be going into all of the pros and cons of the album, but for now, allow me to give you the short version.  The album is fucking awesome, it surprised me how good it was.  I give it an 8/10.

Here's the pros of the album:  Eddie Van Halen is known as one of the greatest guitar players in history, and if he has lost any skill in the last twenty years, I haven't been able to tell.  His riffs are awesome, catchy, and well-played, and his solos are as good as ever.  More importantly, their attempt to make an album that sounded like OLD Van Halen was completely successful.  And it should, because all the songs they used were actually just reworked from old stuff that they never released.  This upset a few people, but I consider it a good thing because it gave us a better album.  The songs are varied, giving you a little bit of everything you love from Van Halen (unless you like keyboards).  You want hard?  You get hard.  You want pretty?  You get pretty.  And perhaps the most important PRO of this album is something that I cannot stress enough.  THE SONGS ARE GOOD.  They are well-written, well-structured, entertaining songs, and that's the whole point of an album like this.  It is track after track of great rock song after great rock song.  And while David Lee Roth's voice has NOTICEABLY aged, it affects the songs very little.  His parts are written lower to compensate for his vocal range, and it detracts nothing from the enjoyment of the material.  That being said, it doesn't add anything, either.  Which brings me to the CONS of the album.

Cons:  David Lee Roth's voice.  It isn't something that makes the album worse, but it IS something where the album could have been better.  The way you get a perfect 10/10 from me is if there is not a single thing that I would want to change or improve.  I love David Lee Roth as much as the next Van Halen fan, but it is undeniable that the songs would have been better if they had been sung by a younger singer.  Another thing that isn't bad, but could have been better, is the background vocals.  Van Halen fans might recall their old songs having some really awesome harmonies and background singing in them.  Well that was all thanks to bassist Michael Anthony, who is no longer in the band with them.  Once again, the background and harmonies on this album aren't BAD at all, in fact they are standard and good, but they aren't as good as they used to be.  But so far all of these cons have been just nitpicking and woulda-coulda's, is there anything LEGITIMATELY wrong with the album?  Yes, one thing.  The Bass EQ on the whole album is so deep, that it actually detracts from the quality of the album.  I had to put in my headphones and listen to it on my ipod the first time, because the bass coming out of my speakers was so overpowering.  The bass parts are well-written and well-played, but the mix during post-production, the choice to set the low frequencies to such a terribly high volume, was a very poor choice.

In conclusion, the album is an incredibly well-written, well-executed, and GODDAMNED ENTERTAINING FUCKING BADASS rock album.  The guitar playing is awesome, Dave's singing is pleasing even in its weathered state, and the material will remind you of the stuff you loved from the 70's and 80's.  The only real problem was the bass levels, and even with that the album deserves no less than an 8/10 from me.

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