Tag Archives: Van Halen

Van Halen? European Tour? Huh?

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Van Halen – live in Europe before your naked, steaming eyes and ears?

In news which clearly indicates the imminent arrival of quite cross, scythe-wielding, be-cloaked dudes on horseback, band front man and mile-a-minute gabber David Lee Roth has told US radio jocks Opie & Anthony that legendary rockers Van Halen intend to tour outside the US this year.

I’ll believe it when I see it.  It’s long been my contention that Eddie Van Halen lost his passport down the back of his sofa sometime in the nineties and couldn’t be bothered to get a new one – it’s a jovial notion vastly preferable to the idea that VH just don’t think that the rest of the world give a monkey’s for their music and that they’ll lose money on any global jaunt.

Festivals, Ed!  Festivals!

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Rachel Weisz is Metal.

Readers of this blog with sufficiently intact and functioning memories (or the inclination to search a while) will be doubtless familiar with my unabashed admiration and slight crush on British actress (and new American citizen) Rachel Weisz.

Man, that new Dimmu Borgir is the Shizz!

An admiration now bolstered quite a bit by the astonishing revelation that she’s a metal fan.

Yes, quite.  Describing herself as ‘an old mosher’, this news makes me wonder precisely who her favourite bands would be – given that she’s roughly two years older than me, I have to imagine that she’s a fan of the Big Four era of thrash, perhaps?  Maybe down for some “Appetite”-era G’N’R?  Or is she, Saint Diamond Dave preserve us, partial to a bit of Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Poison-vintage 80’s hard rock?

The mind boggles and the head?  It bangs.  \M/

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Fluffrick’s Half-Year Hitters

The best thing that Delain have done to date? I should say so…

Inspired by Angry Metal Guy’s list, and because everybody loves a top ten (no matter how arbitrary they end up being), here’s my selection of the best records in 2012 so far.   I can’t really say that anything which I’ve picked up has been a massive disappointment, and I’ve even found a band in the form of Diabulus In Musica who I totally adore and had never heard of before taking a chance on their second release.  Excellent returns from old-hands, convincing albums from established Euro Metal acts and cracking debut collections – you can’t say fairer than that from a year, can you?

1) Delain“We Are The Others”.  Clearly the best album this gifted Dutch symphonic metal quintet have released so far – as much for the ways that it diverts from the established musical template of that genre whilst still retaining their identity.  It’s the kind of record with enough diversity that your favourite song will change with each listening session – for me, the late-album track “Are You Done With Me?” is an alternate universe smash hit, but “I Want You” is also a genius slab of knowingly overwrought, sweeping metal balladry whose lyrics take a delicious, twisted about face in the last minute or two.

2) Luca Turilli‘s Rhapsody“Ascending to Infinity”.  Face-melting operatic insanity from the former Rhapsody of Fire guitarist.  The soundtrack to movies not yet made, with a lovely cover of the Alessandro Safina opera/pop crossover hit, “Luna”, which somehow perfectly fits in with the neo-classical influence and metal flourishes evident elsewhere.

3) Epica“Requiem for the Indifferent”.  Confident, seemingly effortlessly melodic symphonic goodness from Simone Simons and co – but with the underpinning, genuinely metallic riffing and musicianship which carves the band out a distinctive place of their own amidst the multitude of European bands playing in a similar musical field.  This is a record which I’ll be returning to repeatedly in the months to come, ahead of the band’s UK tour at the end of 2012.

4) Van Halen“A Different Kind of Truth”.  I was an early doubter of this legendarily fractious band’s ability to bounce back, record a record and tour it without something bad happening.  Thankfully, that doubt is more than eclipsed by the quality of this album – it might be a selection of reworked seventies cuts which never made it onto studio records first time around, but the end release is classic Van Halen.  End of debate, I guess.  The proof’s in the likes of “Blood and Fire”, “She’s The Woman” and “Stay Frosty” – all evidence that the VH you know and love still has it.

Another band I’m seeing live this year – I see a pattern forming…

5) Firewind – “Few Against Many”.  A departure from Firewind’s expected Power Metal sound, introducing 70’s hard rock influences into the mix and doing it without sacrificing the riffs and splendid solos that you want from guitar genius, Gus G.

6) SabatonCarolus Rex.  Sweden’s finest purveyors of fist-pumping, martial tunes about war and gubbins head way back into Swedish history for a tale of divine presumption, flawed military campaigns and good old-fashioned hubris married to some of the best tunes they’ve ever written.  All that and inter-band strife which led to the group splintering and taking on a new rhythm section and guitarists right as the record released.  For my money – currently £5.00 and coffee stamp card for the local java palace – “Lion From The North” is the best damn thing that they’ve recorded yet.  I look forward to seeing Joakim and co. pile drive it into the faces of the faithful at their Sheffield show in November…

7) Lacuna Coil“Dark Adrenaline”.  Many fans were split on the merits of Lacuna Coil’s fifth album, Shallow Life.  I wasn’t one of those who didn’t care for it (There’s some classic tunes on there – “I Won’t Tell You”, “Underdog”, “The Pain”) but I think that most fans will agree that Lacuna Coil’s 2012 record is a genuine monster of an album – not that these things count, but it’s been the highest charting release in their career in many countries.   Sleek, modern production makes the likes of “Against You” and “Tell Me Something More” sound impressively huge and expansive – a progressive and contemporary sounding record which skilfully integrates their electronic underpinnings with fantastic, gut-punching riffs and solos.  Modern Metal for the discerning?  I should say so.

8) Halestorm  –“The Strange Case Of…”.  I’m inclined to say that this is the closest thing that this list will get to provoking controversy, as in some corners this band is very much persona non grata – a radio-friendly US rock quartet led by noted spell-check confoundress, Lzzy Hale whose tunes have been tearing up US radio and sneaking into “Glee”, just for the hell of it.  There’s no doubt that they have their detractors, but I’m not one of them and I’m pretty sure that this record is a quantum jump forward from their debut album.

That wasn’t a terrible record by any sensible application of the term, but it pales in comparison to this record – go and listen to “American Boys” or “I Miss The Misery” and be hooked by the riffs, Lzzy’s voice – which goes from zero to ‘whisky-soaked, bar-room fight starting hellion’ in five seconds flat.    Not Metal, but bloody magnificent.

9) Diabulus in Musica“The Wanderer”.  This appallingly photogenic band of Spanish symphonic metallers are one of the few bands with the ‘beauty & the beast’ vocal divergence that I can get behind without feeling slightly as though I’m being growled and simpered at by a sugar-deprived Cookie Monster and his mate, Dame Olivia Von Divason.  The symphonic synths, galloping guitars and dark operatic vocals on “Ex Nihilo” make for some of my favourite tunes of the year – in fact, it may be my favourite trad metal song of 2012.  UK shows, please!

10) End of September – Self-titled.  One of the bands that I’ve discovered through a review in the UK’s “Power Play” rock magazine, and a genuinely nice surprise.  Hailing from Sweden and straddling the middle ground between Delain, contemporary Within Temptation and, say, Kamelot, End of September have a female vocalist in Elin Redin who doesn’t go for operatic flourishes but a soulful, distinctive and plaintive tone which serves the band excellently.  If you love your rock big, dramatic but not veering into the full-on metal attack of many groups in this top ten, End of September are a band that you’ll definitely want to listen out for.  Their single “Isolated” is a great indicator of their sound – if you like that, you’ll love their album.

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Van Halen – “A Different Kind of Truth” album review

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Van Halen’s much-ballyhooed ‘reunion’ album with three-quarters of the classic line-up is proof that you CAN go home again.

I was initially sceptical that giving vintage 1970’s material a buff and polish was a great idea, but the resultant album unequivocally establishes such misgivings are unfounded – this is the best Van Halen record since “OU812” and a joy to listen to. It’s a pleasure to be as wrong as I was about this Van Halen line-up as they’ve only gone and kicked my ass completely.

There’s stuff here – “Blood and Fire”, “Big River”“Chinatown”, “She’s The Woman”, “Stay Frosty” – which stacks up to the best Van Halen material from the late ’70s and early ’80s, both in musical attack and David Lee Roth‘s ‘1,000 aphorisms a minute’ lyrical style.  The wit and sass duke it out with Ed’s crunching riffs, reckless abandon soloing and the pretty damn tight Wolfgang and Alex rhythm section, somehow conspiring to present a record which sounds utterly classic, absolutely contemporary and as though the 1984 line-up were cryogenically flash-frozen and dumped out into the modern-day to rock faces anew.

This record recalls the  Van Halen of “Van Halen II”, Women & Children First and “Mean Streets” with a contemporary, glistening production sheen and every bit of musical moxie intact and somehow enhanced for a modern audience.

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Eddie and Wolfgang – Van Halen & Son, staying frosty and defying the haters. Picture via Esquire.com

Coming back to that latter point, I won’t say that I don’t miss Michael Anthony in the band, but it must be said that Wolfgang more than makes his case to be apart of the new line-up.  The backing vocals are very much up to snuff and the new fellow’s bass playing is tight and unfussy, finding the odd moment to add flair in concert with his uncle’s typically impeccable, thunderous double bass attack.  The rhythm section, always a key element of Van Halen’s sound, is absolutely present and correct and the envy of any of their peers.

Recent events have suggested to the weary Van Halen fan that you should never expect them to keep things on track for too long but it would be a shame to see this line-up go the way of previous iterations, particularly as the middle-aged romantic typing these words would love the entertain the oft-absurd notion that they could drag their asses over to Europe again and let us see this line-up knock one out of the proverbial park (or mid-sized arena).

So, the short version.  Great songs, Eddie’s solos and riffs will melt your face, the rhythm section’s a monster and Dave’s voice is a singular thing of high-pitched, camp, bar room bard beauty.  It’s not the album that I expected – it’s something far, far better.

If you’ve been holding off on picking it up, as I was, buy it with confidence – it’s proof that musical reunions can work out for the best.  Where the band goes from here is anybody’s guess, but I hope that they summon up the mojo to keep going and make more records of this calibre.

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Van Halen live footage – leave your jaw on the floor

Van freaking wailing Halen, man!

So, I’m still dancing around getting “A Different Kind of Truth”, the first Van Halen album from most of the classic line-up (no offence, Wolfgang) in 28 years.  Not sure about “Tattoo”, but I do like “She’s The Woman”.  A bit on the fence about all the old-new songs but I’m probably going to pick up the CD sooner rather than later – Van Halen fans tend to be a bit like that, I guess. Any Ed solo is better than no Ed solo, you know?

With that in mind, why not check out a brace of tunes from VH’s open rehearsal at the Forum in Los Angeles the other night (sometimes, I really love You Tube and the internet so much that I almost – not fully  – want to marry it).

Dave might not move quite as well as he used to, but Ed’s on fricking fire – it’s a joy to behold.

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When egos dare – Hagar on Halen

The Red Rocker, rocking in red. Later, haters.

Bless Sammy Hagar – in an age where celebrities dare not speak in public without the assistance of PR’s and PA’s to keep them on message, Hagar’s somebody that you can rely on to tell it as he sees it.

I suspect that, if I had been around as long as him, could buy Belgium with the spare change in my trousers and had been in massive rock bands since the seventies, I too might well not give a tailor’s chalk about offending sensibilities.

Hagar’s been on the promotional trail bigging up his current super group Chickenfoot and has words for the ‘new’ Van Halen material.

And those words include ‘zero inspiration’ and ‘zero creativity’.  Ouch, much?

I can see where he’s coming from – as detailed in previous posts, I’m a little nonplussed by the fact that the new Van Halen stuff is mostly old material which didn’t make it onto earlier records.  That doesn’t sit well with me and Hagar too questions why this new/old line-up hasn’t sat down to write wholly new material.  It’s not like these guys are fresh-faced kids bulking out their album track listing with covers – it’s Van-freaking-Halen, for (Jamie’s) crying out loud.

If seasoned pros like Chickenfoot can get in a room and write new songs, why can’t Dave, Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang get their creative process going?

Hey, I’m not a musician and I don’t know how the writing process works when you’ve been around as long as VH have but the equivalent in another media would be George Lucas going back to a previous project and futzing around with things until they get all messed up.

Hey, now – wait a minute…

 

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Van Halen goes to “Chinatown”

Where have all the good times gone?

Should we be worried about the ‘new’ Van Halen record, “A Different Kind of Truth”?  I’m speaking mostly to the VH fans, here, I realise, but normal, non-Eddie, Alex, Dave and Wolfgang obsessives can join in, too – just click on the link above and listen to “Tattoo”.  Join us back here when you’re done.

A band reforming is one issue – Will they still be any good?  Will they all get along?  A band reforming and then taking a bunch of old songs, fragments and demo tunes and reworking them into their new album is quite another and that’s what the advanced scuttlebutt is telling us about “A Different Kind of Truth” – that many of the songs actually date back to Van Halen’s inception during the 1970’s.

I’m all for artists being prolific, but I’m not sure that being prolific is the same as raiding the off-cuts, never-were and ideas that you were never quite able to whip into shape.  Is that really any way to announce that you’re back – by releasing a record largely composed of stuff that your hardcore fan base will be aware of via the tape-trading circuit from back in the day?

I suppose I should just be happy that Van Halen are back again, but I’m holding my judgement until I hear the record.  On that note, Blabbermouth have posted the latest snippet from “A Different Kind of Truth”a song called “Chinatown”, which dates from back in the day but is a little more convincing than “Tattoo” was.  The comments section has it pegged as being melodically in the same territory as VH classic rocker “Hang ‘Em High”, which seems like a fair enough assessment.

It’s only fair to warn you that the vintage 1982 video linked to above contains leopard-print dungarees.  Viewer discretion is advised…

 

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