Because Songs Matter


So. For the first time in 14 years as a band and 27 years as a band with David Lee Roth in it, Van Halen is releasing an album of all new material. When I first heard this news, I shrugged it off and went about my life confident I’d not think about Van Halen again until one of them does another stint in rehab. Then a funny thing happened. My twitter and facebook feeds started blowing up with folks talking about how good this new Van Halen album was. In the end, I couldn’t resist giving it a listen and decided, in the process, to give my opinion track by track on twitter as I listened for the first time.

Now, to be fair, you need to know that I was never a huge Van Halen fan. If you walked up and said, “Quick, name as many Van Halen songs as you can in 5 seconds!”, “Jump” is gonna be the only track I come up with. Peeking at Wikipedia it’s obvious I know many more, but that’s the only one that comes to mind and it brings back memories of me being 11 years old and sitting in front of a little single speaker cassette player/radio in my backyard. I think that’s worth keeping in mind as you read this break down.

Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth (in 140 or less characters at a time):

Tattoo: musically, okay. Lyrically, not so okay.

She’s The Woman: Sounds like it came right out of the heyday of hair metal. Think 1991 Arena Rock and you’ve nailed it’s sound.

You and Your Blues: I only need 1 word for this song: boring.

China Town: not bad. not bad at all. Rocks harder than any other 60 year old’s music. I’ll thumbs up this track considering.

Blood and Fire: This is the first time on the album they’ve felt like old men trying to rock instead of just rocking.

Bullethead: not bad. Fave from the cd so far.

As Is: This one has that classic David Lee Roth feel/swagger to it.

Honeybabysweetiedoll: ugh. bad song. 2 minutes in I had to press the skip button. First time I’ve done that on the album though.

The Trouble With Never: Another one right out of the 90’s arena rock sound.

Outta Space: Starts off promising but I didn’t even notice it end. Tried to listen twice. Same result.

Stay Frosy: The title says, “bad song”. The opening guitar says, “maybe not”. The title was honest & honestly, Dave ruins this song.

Big River: musically, you totally could have sold me that this was a George Lynch song. Honestly, this one is pretty good.

Beats Workin’: Despite the promising musical opening, this song fell flat on me. Again, I blame David Lee Roth for fucking it up.

And that concludes the Van Halen 140 character review. In the end, not horrific but I’ll never listen to it again…


  1. February 3, 2012    

    Rofl…I love this review but dude, how have you missed ‘Eruption’? (from their debut album)

    You were kinder on ‘Tattoo’ than I was. That song hurts me and not in a good way.

  2. BMack BMack
    February 3, 2012    

    Brilliant review and all I need to know.

  3. Tetra1 Tetra1
    February 3, 2012    

    I was of the same impression. It was on my list as a “buy” but after listening to it last night, I’m going to go buy the new Otis Gibbs album, Harder Than Hammered Hell.

    • February 3, 2012    

      wise decision.

  4. Supernova Supernova
    February 3, 2012    

    This album is all about EVH saying so-long to the keyboards and picking up the guitar again, and from that point of view, nothing out there now can touch it.

    It’s not for the hipsters and it ain’t for the faint of heart.

    It’s about having a rock rolled into your face.

    • February 6, 2012    

      It is for people who love that arena rock sound of the early 90’s….

      There is very little about the album that equates to “a rock rolled into your face”….

  5. VOR VOR
    February 4, 2012    

    This review sucks!! REALLY SUCKS!! Not because i disagree with it, but because it’s coming from someone who obviously doesn’t know shit about Van Halen!! Doesn’t matter though, this album is KILLER, and that is coming from someone who has been a VH fan since the age of 11 when the first record came out!! This could have flopped and i would say so if i thought it did, but it didn’t!! I just feel like this reviewer would probably give a positive review to the Spammy Hagar Van Halen shit. This is real VH!! Welcome back gentleman!!

    • February 4, 2012    

      “…but because it’s coming from someone who obviously doesn’t know shit about Van Halen”

      He shouldn’t have to know anything about the band. If the music is truly outstanding it will blow you away, whether you are a fan of the musicians or not. If it -requires- the crutch of ‘omg omg eddie van halen guitar god for 30 years’ to be good, then it probably isn’t. And that is true of any recording.

      • El Dude El Dude
        February 4, 2012    

        It also depends on what your listening habits are as well. If for instance all you listen to is techno dance music, then more times than not, nothing out of the genre is going “to blow you away” regardless of how good it may be.

        We all bring our own likes, dislikes and habits to the table and it’s 99.999% impossible to lock those away and lose the key. Anyone who says they don’t and it is’nt is not quite being honest.

        Reviews of anything are always fun to read but they are always subjective and never objective. And thats ok.

        It always comes down to what floats your boat, not mine.

        • February 4, 2012    

          “It also depends on what your listening habits are as well. If for instance all you listen to is techno dance music, then more times than not, nothing out of the genre is going “to blow you away” regardless of how good it may be.”

          See, I don’t agree. Setting aside the ‘techno dance’ thing as a bad example, I still think truly ‘good’ music can transcend genres. If a song is well written enough it will catch (and keep) your attention. This is how songs cross over from one kind of music to another, how older songs get rerecorded by newer bands, and in many cases how bands evolve their own sound.

          And yes, it is hard to be objective. Music hits us where we feel and it is always hard to be clinical when all you want to do is dance around the room. However, using the ‘he doesn’t listen to this kind of music’ argument is unfair and untrue for this particular blog and its reviewers. In any given week, they can toss out everything from punk to americana to rock to gospel field calls.

          • Kyle P Kyle P
            February 7, 2012    

            Of course some songs will “transcend” genres or radio formats (both of which are, to a greater or lesser degree, artificial anyway), but it will do so for very particular aesthetic, cultural, or commercials more so than some sort of universal value of “goodness.”

            To your point more specifically, do we all universally accept that the most important and universal criteria for musical/song greatness is that it “catch (and) keep your attention?” While that might seem like a given, what about individuals or cultures who believe great music serves as a rhythmic background for ritual, or spaced-out ambient tunes to smoke a bowl to, or (just maybe) zany, mindless stadium-sized hard rock/power pop that many readers of Nine Bullets just assume tune out?

  6. james james
    February 5, 2012    

    “Honeybabysweetiedoll: ugh. bad song. 2 minutes in I had to press the skip button. First time I’ve done that on the album though.”

    Best song on the album, experimental, blistering guitar work (Ed pays tribute to Dime for sure.), progressive chords and time changes, amazing lyrics, amazing singing, sounds like a missing song from Fair Warning. The writer is obviously more interested in his own sleazy. smarmy, self interested, high school writing style. BAD, BAD, BAD review, just so wrong.

    • February 6, 2012    


      I ask you to point out where I was smarmy in that review….

      • Tom Tom
        February 15, 2012    

        Love Van Halen Roth era,Love Van Halen Sammy era as well, skipped the Gary album. With that said. I agree with James, loved that song, in my opinion musically very experimental and does sound like a Fair Warning MIA however, what we love about Eddie, I am sure Autopsy IV doesn’t get. While he tuned out after two minutes, I finally perked up and said whoa, we have something here. In the end it sounds a little like Pleasure Dome to me, but I like that song too especially after they did it in concert as an instrumental which is what this should have been. No need to slam Autopsy though. By the way loved the limited character review and otherwise thought you were dead on with the other songs. Thanks!

  7. February 5, 2012    

    these comments are awesome. defend your band VH lovers. check out some other reviews on here. Let’s Fight.

  8. February 6, 2012    

    I didn’t think it was a smarmy or hipstery review. I happen to know that Mr. Autopsy enjoys the face-melting rock. He may just not be a fan of VH or may not see it up to expectations if he is. So be it. I’m a fan, and I dig the album… a lot, actually.

  9. Buster Buster
    February 6, 2012    

    This reviewer has no clue what the **** he is talking about, being in music for over 30 years, I do have an ear for it. I have heard the album, take it for what it is worth : It is a Van Halen Album to the bone. Hard Rocking, NO filler, Great effort, guitar work is insane. Its better than most of there albums in the entire catalog. This IS a monster album for them. If ADKOT was released 20 years ago It would have went platnum in its first week of sales. Everyone is entitled to there opinion I guess, no matter what old school VH fans will be stoked about this one for sure. BTW honeysweetbabydoll is probably the best VH tune in 25 years, this reviewer is fucking tone deaf.. Go listen to Maroon five and drool you wanker!

    • February 6, 2012    

      If honeysweetbabydoll is the best VH tune in 25 years then I’ve certainly not missed much.

  10. Buster Buster
    February 6, 2012    

    BTW arena rock was in the 80’s not the 90’s

    • February 6, 2012    

      Arena rock stretched into the early 90’s as well…..which is when I would have been a part of it.

  11. Buster Buster
    February 6, 2012    

    Sorry about the wanker comment 🙂 I just was not too crazy about your review, it seemed like you just tossed a great VH effort in the can without really giving it the props it deserves.

    • February 6, 2012    

      yeah but if he doesn’t think it deserves any props then should he still give them? Also I’m wondering what being “in music” for 30 years means? I’ve listened to music, worked in the music business, been a music reviewer, but i’ve never been “in music” and I don’t know if I would want to, it would probably depend on how hot she was.

    • February 6, 2012    

      It very well may be a “great VH effort” and that VH isn’t that great in my musical world….which, I thought I explained pretty clearly at the beginning of my review.

  12. February 6, 2012    

    I have no desire to submit my ears to this album, but I do have to say that having a “rock rolled into my face” sounds like an utterly miserable experience. Definitely not the greatest selling point. I would also like to say that this review and the subsequent comments were infinitely more enjoyable than what I imagine listening to the record in question would be.

  13. February 6, 2012    

    Van Halen fans — do you really think Bryan’s review is going to affect album sales? :3

  14. Alf Alf
    February 14, 2012    
  15. jk jk
    March 24, 2012    

    The reviewer should stick to his only van halen knowledge… of jump! He seems to slam alot songs that most people are praising….stay frosty. Furious guitar work and quirky lyrics keep this album a great listen, not the classic 6 pack but better than the second incarnation of van halen. However, this may be beyond this particular reviewer’s scope. If you like it…listen , if you don’t then don’t. Some days your the dog, somedays your the hydrant!

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