For Van Halen's first album in 14 years, and the Pasadena hard rock band's first album in 28 years with singer David Lee Roth, they went back and dug out some demo tapes from the 70s - they released their classic self-titled debut in 1978 - and used it as the starting point for their 12th album. So rather than reuniting and butting heads to come up with a whole heap of new songs, it gives them a mighty fine head start. The songs here are an odd combination of wild and polished, but are never as over the top as Van Halen started to get in the 80s with 1984 chart- topper Jump. Yet there's still something unashamedly overblown about the strutting, spandex-ripping rock of She's the Woman and the thigh-slapping blues rock ode to Mr Whippy on Stay Frosty.
Guitarist Eddie Van Halen is still a virtuoso with mongrel tendencies and Roth returns after leaving the band following their mainstream peak with the album 1984 and Jump. He gives Ozzy a run for his money in the slovenly singer stakes on Outta Space, and he is generally in fine rabble-rousing and occasionally flamboyant form.
Honeybabysweetiedoll is a twisted beauty and sounds akin to mangled experimental metal. And while China Town is more straightforward, with its thundering gallop and Roth's circling and sniping vocals, it's those two tracks where Van Halen are back to their heavy metal-meets-heavy rock best.
Verdict: Fans will jump for joy
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