Friday, February 3, 2017

LET THEM EAT METAL #8: Van Halen by Van Halen (Let me work my magic like how Diamond Dave does with every girl he meets)

Warning: This contains material that might be considered suggestive and unclean.  If you are offended by jokes and comments about and references to suggestive themes and content, then you should probably be not reading this.  From what I came up with for this entry, I can definitively say that this is NSFW, or Not Safe For Work for those who don't understand internet lingo.  But don't be discouraged if you're not at work or able to handle certain topics, this can be considered SFP, or Safe for Parties for those who don't understand my lingo.  But to repeat myself, reader disgression is advised.

In the days of yore, when pop music meant something, it was filled with nourishing musical ideas and showed the tides of progress.  But then something happened, the ability for it to fill our soul has nearly vanished, and the masses are starved on good music.  There’s the occasional quality track that stays good after multiple spins, but it has gotten to the moment where even good pop music gets stale.  We live in a white-bread world in mainstream music.  However, there’s salvation from the drek that the masses need to know about.  In the words of Marie Antoinette, or more accurately The Rods quoting her: “LET THEM EAT METAL!”

Hello degenerates, heathens, weirdos, and deviants.  I am the Rock Otaku, and I’m here to show you worlds such as hard rock, metal, punk, alternative rock, movies, TV, anime, video games, and anything that makes us scream, shout, and run with the devil.

This series is dedicated to the best that heavy metal can offer.  As you will read, I will take you on a journey though the annals of heavy metal’s storied history from its beginning in early 70s, its crystallization in the late 70s and early 80s, its breakthrough into mainstream conscience in the early to mid-80s, its maturation in the late 80s and 90s, its dominance (sort of) in the 2000s and even today, and the rare moments that very few talk about unless in the company of like-minded fans.  Not in that order, but I’ll be looking at the footnotes oh metal history in the order I desire.  In short, this series is about metal, plain and simple.

Today, I delve into a form of heavy metal that is not just more mainstream, but is more likely to tell tales of sexual exploits, intoxication, wild parties, and adventure on the road, with possibly real-world problems like destitution, crime, and that time you got a booboo on your finger.  The style I am referring to is pop metal.  Yes, I have covered traditional heavy metal, speed metal, power metal, and progressive metal already, with some proto-doom and thrash metal, but never straight pop metal.  Why?  There seems to be a stigma against the whole idea.  When you think about it, pop music is simple, safe, and unlikely going to challenge your notions on life, the universe, and everything.  Here’s how pop music handles that: 
Heavy metal, on the other hand, tends to dive into darker themes, more terrifying thoughts, and obscure influences that lead into more complex, edgier, and eye and ear-opening songs that can expand the mind, causing you to wonder what the question of life, the universe, and everything actually is.  Here’s how metal handles that as well:
As a result, if the two mix, you get some happy songs that deal with darker themes with the aplomb of The Joker while a sense of disappointment would result from both parties.  The pop acts would rather go back to safe, PC rubbish while metal starts taking testosterone pills and adopting alt-right rhetoric to keep pop away.  And no, I am not stating what actually happened to both scenes thanks to second-wave glam metal.  But I’ll finally review an album from that era next.  This week, I’m reviewing the album that, alongside Too Fast For Love and Pyromania, codified glam metal and its tropes: Van Halen by Van Halen.

Now here’s where I discuss the origins and history of the band album by album before this one to illustrate what went into this album, but this is their debut album, and it’s considered one of the greatest debut albums of all time, up there with the debuts of Guns N’ Roses, Queen, Pearl Jam, Ratt, KISS, and so on (that’s off the top of my head, other bands took a while to strike big).  All that’s left is to discuss how the band started in the early 70s thanks to two Dutch-American brothers found interest in rock music while learning classical, learned guitar and drums (you can guess which ones took up which instrument), then started a band that had one name, then legal troubles led them to use their last name as the band name.  And during this time, they decided to hire a guy as singer so one of them can focus on guitar, and the hired singer was more of a flashy performer than a technical powerhouse.  Then something about sending a tape of theirs to Gene Simmons of KISS, which got them in league with a producer at Warner Bros. Records, who signed them with a producer to make their debut.  Such humble origins leading the Pasadena-based hard rock outfit Van Halen, with guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen, singer David Lee Roth, and bassist Michael Anthony (gee, I wonder when they will replace him with a bassist who has a 3 word name, such as the son of the guitarist) rounding up what would ultimately be their classic lineup (not their mainstream lineup, if you count Sammy Hagar as a singer for the band).  The result of all of this?  A flashy, metallic, no-BS hard rock album that, alongside the works of Aerosmith, KISS, Scorpions, and Judas Priest, would define the L.A. pop metal sound (and drive Metallica to San Francisco, a city so campy that James Hetfield now lives in the Rockies).

As for me, this is practically a part of my development into a metal head alongside Aerosmith, Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, KISS, and Queen, even before I knew my musical tastes were skewing towards heavier rock.  I probably listened to this and their debut with Sammy Hagar, 5150, multiple times with my dad and even my mom, all around the same time I was obsessed with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the Back to the Future trilogy (collectively, those 4 movies have all aged well, and helped me jump the hurdle of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Disney during my development as a cinephile).  And as a result, I consider Van Halen to not just be one of my all-time favorite rock bands, but probably one of my influences as a heavy metal fan, a guitarist, and a ladies-man (I’ll get to that).  And plus, being that this is my first foray into blogging for February, and my whole inaugural “Real Rockers Wear Pink” event, it makes sense to review an album that will get a girl more into you when you decide to play metal for her (that’s assuming you’re a dude).

No really.  I’m serious about this.  The sensuality throughout this record will get her hot and ready for whatever you both decide to do.  Like from Little Caesars (I just had to go there).

Anyway, time for some rock n’ roll:

1.         Runnin’ With The Devil:

Do I even need to talk about how awesome this song is?  I’ve mentioned that this would be considered one of the first pop metal albums to codify the genre, and its legacy is known.  Plus, this song along with a few others gets radio play to this very moment.  What can I bring to the analysis of this song?


Really? Doge?
What, it fits here (a little, though).  Anyway, the way this song starts off with what sounds like a car horn being honked then mixed in a way that makes it sound like a siren’s wail.  After the automotive siren calls you in, the bass, drum cymbals, and guitars kick in in order, with the guitar harmonics played as if it sounds like a twinkling piano.  Then, with the rest of the drums, that riff kicks in.  That riff.  It’s the kind of riff that screams pulse pounding hard rock with its ascending chords, chika-chika sounds (referring to the sound you make when you dampen strings while playing guitar) and slides.  Then you get David Lee Roth wailing across this riff.  After that, the verse starts where Roth sings about living a hedonistic, sinful life without love, without family, being on his own, and realizing that things are much more complicated than they seem.  Punctuated by this is the guitar, which is based around sustained chords and notes with a low melody to match the vocal performance, with the middle of the verse featuring a lick that is either harmonics or legato from Eddie that shows his guitar mastery.  After that, the dank riff comes back for the chorus, which features David’s screams, the title melodically sung by Michael, Eddie, and possibly Roth, and no loss in intensity.  During this song are two 4-measure, classical-inspired guitar solos that are differentiated by the notes toward the end of the third measure and the guitar squeal that concludes the first one.  It’s heavy, intense, a great introduction to the band’s sound and attitude, and catchier than most pop music today (and considering what Todd put on his best-of list, especially at numbers 7 and 1, that’s saying something).  But where this song is undone is the fact that the guitar solo(s) is nowhere near as glorious as the one that comes next.  What I mean is that it is beginner level material closer to what Nick Jonas is almost capable of.
Let me explain with the next track.
2.         Eruption:
Before Kämpfer Akane realizes that I just dissed both Nick AND Joe Jonas (who knew a Revy fangirl was into DNCE), let me say that this song is probably too easy to recommend.  Why?  Because without this song, we wouldn’t have shred guitar as we know it today, and it wouldn’t have had exposure outside of progressive rock and jazz fusion.  As a result, most rock, metal, guitar, and even music critics have gone into length into why this 100+ second guitar instrumental is so iconic.  So due to how unoriginal it may be if I went into detail about every single movement, I decided to use images and gifs of a certain moment in anime to compare.

Starting with the drum roll, it leads into the opening blast of guitar and bass that begins Eddie Van Halen’s assault on what guitar playing in rock should be like…
That wave of fast picking and notes before the first brown note.
Also, I’ve also mentioned how he uses the whammy bar to create a very, very low note before giving it a few more pumps.  Then the last bit of drum and bass delivers the basis for Eddie to launch into another wave of fast notes, this time higher up the neck…
The golden hair signifies that this is Eddie’s fight from now on.
Then more fast notes come in, this time with a tasty section of tremolo picking before going down a scale, leading into another brown note…
Sooner or later, Freeza’s going to regret getting Roth kicked out of the band.
After that, with no launching point from the rhythm section, Eddie does the launching himself with his guitar.  He begins the beginning of the third movement with fast scales, alternate picking, bends, hammer-ons and pull-offs, and tremolo picking…
Then he gets to the tapping section…
Enough said.
And this is the part where the song gets the most praise.  At this point in time, Eddie cracked the code on not just how to play legato on the guitar faster than ever, but found ways to replicate the classical music of yesteryear on a guitar in the genres of hard rock and heavy metal.  And it’s not fast for the sake of fast.  It’s a more melodic ascending of notes that start with the tapped note pulling off to the lowest note of the three used at each point, then a hammer on with the pinky, then the tap.  Rinse and repeat across the fretboard on the B string (to get you’re guitar to sound like Eddie’s, the first thing to do would be to tune your guitar half a step down).  And it’s not just one set of notes repeated.  There are multiple variations adding more notes to give the section a larger than life feel.  All culminating in a melodic tapped line that helped spawn neo-classical metal.  After that, the final whammy bar drop gives us the final brown note, with the song ending with feedback…
And the first shred metal super saiyan transformed at last.
I wonder how George Lynch and Brian May reacted to this becoming a phenomenon?

But before we get to the song that this segues into on radio, here’s some more shred guitar super saiyans to show how far Eddie influenced the genre:
Randy Rhodes
Yngwie Malmsteen
Paul Gilbert
George Lynch (after getting with Don Dokken)
The current Falling In Reverse lead guitarist.
3.         You Really Got Me:
I kind of went over the last one, so this one should be much shorter.  Hopefully.

As for this song, I may mention some trivia about it, but due to time constraints and a desire to make my words my own influenced by my true feelings, I’ll leave that for another day.  However, I can mention that this song’s approach to the original version by The Kinks and how it compares to the original.  Whereas the original was based around a single riff and it’s variations throughout the entire song, the cover plays with it and adds even more variations, such as how the riff is played, the licks that showcases Eddie’s guitar playing.  There are differences in the solo, where one is based around certain frets on the guitar and the other incorporates tapping and ends with the guitarist playing with the pickup switch and volume (thanks to his modifications to his guitar).  There’s also the vocal performance where one is youthful and energetic while the other is older, has more experience, and is more flamboyant while still having the original’s energy.  Finally, the third verse after the solo is different for both songs, as one continues the riff passage of the first two verses, and the other is driven by David Lee Roth, the drums by Alex Van Halen, and a few notes from Eddie.  In short, it’s an iconic song played in two iconic ways, and both have their positives and negatives, and while I appreciate the original in how it did things, the cover is the one I prefer due to nostalgia as well as how it held up.  It feels as original and breathtaking as the rest of the album.

The lyrics?  It’s about sex and sexual attraction.  Moving on.

4.         Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love:
With its iconic opening, this song kick starts with Eddie’s guitar wizardry.  If the opening does something genius, it establishes the riffs used in the verses and choruses respectively, and while they may have variations, they are mostly intact with a few variations in the rhythm and volume.  The song itself deals with David Lee Roth dealing with a woman who wants him to commit, but he’d rather have a more sexual, lustful relationship with her due to how, as he states, “My love is rotten to the core.”  It could be dealing with how love might have caused him pain as well as her, and that he’s not ready to commit to a long relationship, so he just wants the one-night stand that’s likely to happen anyway.  As for the guitar performance, I’ve already mentioned the riffs but there’s more.  The first riff (the verse riff) features palm-muted arpeggios and a pinch harmonic to end it, and there’s two variations, one where some open notes in the arpeggio are played as a chord, and there’s one where the guitars are clean and there are some natural harmonics.  The second (the chorus riff) features chords played using a flanger effect (from what it sounds like) and both the end of the first riff as well as an ascending set of sliding notes.  You also have the guitar solo, which is so savage, dangerous, and technical that it’s repeated twice (it might be the weakest, but that’s due to overuse and lover technicality until the fast passage toward the end).  Plus the rhythm section by Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen is tighter than the prudes offended by this song’s lyrical message (if there are still any).  You also get some great harmonies from Eddie and Michael alongside Diamond Dave’s husky voice of manly seduction.  As a result, this song slays, it rocks, and it deserves your attention.

5.         I’m The One:
I’m starting to think that this is one of the three things David Lee Roth loves to sing about:
And you’d thought this would be a dry review.
But with the fast, palm-muted riff that feels like the kind of riff that’d launch a hundred L.A. hair metal bands into existence, I’d expect parties to be the second thing on Dave’s mind.  The third?

As for the song itself, it’s about how much of a sex god Diamond Dave is, and how his experience with the ladies and worldview makes him suitable for the listener.  That and the band too, as the first lines is “We came here to entertain you/Leaving here we aggravate you” and the lines “I’m the one the one you love/Come on baby, show your love” are harmonized with Eddie and Michael joining in.  As for the guitars, there’s a lot of shredding, fast licks and riffs that pretty much tell you that “Eruption” was far from a fluke, and that Eddie is one hell of a virtuoso.  There are two solos here that scorch the earth they play on and are the kinds to melt faces to.  You also get a lot of whammy bar abuse, as if the above image was seen by Eddie and he had the natural reaction of playing with the tremolo arm.  And you also have Michael’s and Alex’s rhythm section.  This may sound short and underwhelming in concept, but this is a song you NEED to listen to in its entirety.  A song that’s face-melting sleaze metal and has a doo-whop bridge after the second solo needs to be heard to be believed.  This kind of genre-mixing and redefining, incorporating hard rock, speed metal, and even jazz is one that I’m sure is going to be a favorite for most of you; it was released with one of the singles, so you must have heard it if you are old enough.  As for pop reviewers who get suckered into songs for the beat, good or bad, here’s a hint to this song’s beat:

Caption: Who the hell do you think I am?  Someone who wouldn’t use this meme?
What do you get from this?
Geez, Nathan.  Don't be such a downer.
Next song before things get weird (Damn lack of Airheads gifs).

6.         Jamie’s Cryin’:

Now that we let off some steam with Bennett...
I pretty much wrote myself here.
...Let’s get to probably the most commercial song here.  If you recognize the drum roll at the beginning and the guitar lick in the chorus, then I’m sure you know a song by Tone Loc that isn’t “Funky Cold Medina,” but that’s not where this song shines.  The guitars manage to do a good job of wailing like a crying woman (pardon that pun) and still maintaining a smooth flair.  The drums and basslines are also strong here, keeping the rhythm and ensuring that neither Eddie nor Dave go completely nuts.  As for the former, his riffs are on points, varied, and filled with skill, his licks match the tone, and there’s a great solo that shows how he can be more melodic and subdued while still showing his jaw-dropping techniques and virtuosity.  The latter also gives off one of his best vocal performances here, putting himself in a shoes of someone who knows the titular Jamie.  He sees that she’s tired of one night stands and how she wanted the last son of a bitch to commit to a relationship this time.  But because he decided not to commit, her face is covered in tears, and she may have hit her breaking point in having her heart broken.  But because these lyrics are pretty easy to understand, he puts a lot of huskiness, wisdom, and understanding for the woman whose story he sings.  Plus that chorus where the band sings “Oh, whoa, whoa, Jamie’s cryin’” is catchy as hell, so there’s one part of this song you’re suckered into.  I can say more, but if Diamond Dave were 16, made of rubber, and considered Jamie a friend, I’m sure this would have happened at one point:
Caption: Finally, a reference to One Piece here.
7.         Atomic Punk:
I want to see a legitimate hard rock or heavy metal band have this title as their band name.  Imagine all the attention that it would bring to them.  It’s evocative, it’s reflective on current events, it gives off a retro feel because no one wants to be creative anymore, instead wanting to rehash old stuff, it’s a reminder of anything from societal to apocalyptic, it’s badass, it’s the embodiment of “rule of cool”, it’s something that you’d expect from the rock genre instead of some cutesy or emo name like “Falling In Reverse,” “Metro Station,” “Cute Is What We Aim For,” “DNCE,” or even…
Wait, you want me to talk about the song?
Okay then, the song.  Why I say this should be the name of a legit metal band rather than be stuck to Van Halen tribute bands is because of just how legitimately heavy this is.  Of the songs of the album, this is arguable among the five heaviest (“Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Eruption”, and “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” are easily the first three, and I’ll get to the last one).  Hell, it’s heavier than the three songs I’ve mentioned in the parentheses-separated comment.  It starts with Eddie’s flanger-filled opening guitar line with light cymbal bashing that gives this song its initial edge (which might have influenced the opening to “Mr. Brownstone”).  That edge never disappears, as the main riff is nothing short of pure metal mastery, with a tasty line filled with atomic menace, powerful chords, and loads of whammy bar use.  Then another heavy riff comes in for Diamond Dave’s sleazy, rebellious, assertive vocal delivery, proclaiming his status as top dog in the underworld, the ultimate badass, the “Atomic Punk”.  All will fear him.  Also fearful is the more aggressive rhythm section, with pounding bass and drums to keep the energy pumping.  All of this capped off with a strong guitar solo that showcases both Eddie’s more aggressive side as a guitarist.  It may not be as tasty or technical, but it’s still as menacing as his earlier solos, if not more so (plus there’s some massive dives and tremolo arm abuse).  This is a song to strut to in the middle of the night to classify yourself as alpha dog.  Alpha punk.  THE ATOMIC PUNK.  Plus that ending, where Roth screams at the top of his lungs (not the bowels, mind you, this predates death metal) the title, ending with a massive punch of guitar, bass, and drums is nothing short of beautifully dangerous.

8.         Feel Your Love Tonight:
How many of you know “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”?  How many of you know “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”?  How many of you haven’t seen The Lion King?  If the last one for you was a strong “no”, imagine this happening to those two songs, and the tone is closer to the former:
You get this Van Halen staple.  With its opening guitar line, which could arguably be my favorite melodic guitar riff from this band ever, this song kicks into gear with the necessary sexual energy to ensure that when a couple hear this, they make plans to pork (blame Honest Trailers for that one).  And continuing that theme, David Lee Roth sings about how this woman he met at the bar has him like this:
However, I’m sure for most of you, this may make the song make more sense:
But this isn’t as perverted as that wolf (nor The Mask), this is a lot more controlled, but still horny.  The mid-tempo beat from the bass and the drums manages to keep this song from going overboard and blowing Dave’s and Eddie’s collective loads (I’ll get to the latter), but Roth’s proclamations manage to give the song the high sexual energy that this song is both notable and beloved for.  It’s catchy as hell, and I swear you’ll be humming the riff and singing the chorus before this song is over.  Plus, until the third verse, the guitar work is more controlled, with a more “are you sure this chick is worth it” vibe until Roth’s mention of his work schedule, and probably getting a glimpse of her assets and personality, gets EDDIE riled up.  After that, he plays the guitar equivalent of the moment when they get it on, with his amazing technique filled with legato, bending, tapping, tremolo picking, harmonics, and whammy bar use before the song decides to have the band’s excited voices drive the rest of the song to the outro chorus.  Overall, this is a song that should have headlined its own single rather than be an album cut or piggybank off another single.  This is a deserved classic.  And it isn’t the last time Dave shows his love for the ladies.

9.         Little Dreamer:
Of all the songs on this album, this is arguably the closest this album has to filler.  Not to say it’s terrible, as it has a sort of melancholic tone that fits when the party gets completely out of control, but it isn’t something that would be desirable for said parties.  But the sad part, this is arguably a more notable ballad than “Jamie’s Cryin’”, which was slightly more pop metal decking Arlong in the schnoz than power ballad.  The best part is definitely that guitar riff at the beginning, with a mix of softer tones and heavy playing, establishing the darker tone of this song.  As for the lyrics, Roth croons about how the person the title is referring to had all these goals and ambitions and was unable to accomplish any of them.  It’s rather depressing to think about, and it’s somehow more relevant as time goes on.  I mean, it’s not as if my entire generation is that of little dreamers.  But if there are silver linings to this song, it’s the instrumentation and vocal performance.  With David Lee Roth’s deep croon, Eddie’s guitar skills, and Michael and Alex’s bass work and drum work, respectively, this song ends up as another showcase of their skills, all topped off with an excellent solo from the guitar maestro.  The only flaw is that the chorus doesn’t stick as well as with the other songs.  In short, this isn’t an amazing song, but it’s a good reflection on being unable to succeed if you were in the situation the band sings about.

10.       Ice Cream Man:
Here’s a surprise that you should know about: this is a cover.  Apparently the song was originally recorded by blues artist John Brim.  Why is this important, because this song, with its riff, vocal delivery, and very, very dirty lyrics evoke ye olden days of the blues.  What I mean is that this song starts with a shuffle riff on acoustic guitar while David Lee Roth channels his inner blues singer, singing about how his selection of ice cream will satisfy a woman he’s into.  To review this properly, and for people to understand what I’m talking about, what color is Vanilla Ice Cream?  Why do you think it’s the flavor of choice for jokes involving sailors, pirates, the Navy, and so on?  Anyone?  Time to explain.

This song uses the metaphor of the ice cream man to be about sex.  It’s not as if you’d not be tipped off by Diamond Dave singing about how he’ll make the girl feel cool (as in, she’s likely “hot” when he stops by).  And for a while I may have confused one of the lyrics as mentioning vanilla when the lyric there actually said “good lemonade,” which has me like this:
That’s somehow worse.
And trust me, they get a little dirtier, as he mentions stopping by at eleven o’clock, which I don’t think is in the evening:
“Dude, she just had brunch.”
But what if I read that wrong, and it isn’t 11 in the morning?
“Isn’t ice cream better in the daytime?”
But he has more than vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavor.  He has them all and push-ups too:
Caption: Shock in 3, 2, 1…
Yes, I feel he doesn’t mean the frozen treats.  Not sure if I can make the song sound even more wrong if I could have.  Of all the songs about lust here, I had to analyze the one that’s going to ruin ice cream trucks for us.  Or Push Up Pops in general.  As for those Push Up Pops, it’s best to assume that there are many possible flavors of them.  Such as vanilla?
“Review the instrumentation.  REVIEW THE INSTRUMENTATION!!”
Okay, okay.  Going back to the bluesy aspects of the song, the opening acoustic guitar has a shuffle beat to it while Dave sings in a huskier, crooning style that evokes the blues of old, which I already mentioned, but I forgot to mention the moment when Roth says “All right boys.”  At that moment, the rest of the band kicks in and the guitars go from smooth to pulse-pounding electric with the bass and drums plowing in as well.
“Why would you...”
Musically!  Not like that.  Yeah, this song hits into overdrive and stays that way for the rest of the song, including a very fast solo that mixes blues with shredding, officially confirming that Eddie Van Halen is a guitar god not to mess with.  With its bends, bluesy lines, fast alternate picking, and a tapping line or two, Eddie rocks the house.
“Tapping?  Like with...”
When I said tapping, I meant on a guitar!  Seriously, how many of you get triggered when words with sexual connotations are brought up?  Or is it me having anime characters stand in for PC-promoting millennials who would rather complain about sex in media and its effects on the female psyche through Tumbler rather than loosen up and give in to pleasure, or become like Miley Cyrus when their urges build up to the ultimate breaking point.  News flash: You don't want to be like Miley Cyrus!

But seriously, this song kicks ass, and its ending is great with the vocal line from Roth that exudes charisma and stage-presence as well as sensuality and the old-school big rock ending.  Overall, it’s a fun song to sing along to, but a dirty little ditty about being a sleazy ice cream man.  I’m sure that this won’t have any effects on my ability to take people to take up the profession of ice cream truck driver seriously or as moral defenders.
Caption: Wait, is that Rupert Grint?
“Cheer up, Mikey.  He’s doing theater.”
I better finish this review before things go overboard (I’m good without making a Klondike Bar joke).

11.       On Fire:
Ladies and gentlemen, the final song on the album, and it’s a heavy one.  With its opening guitar chords, this song kicks into gear and never lets up for a second, with the pounding drums, bass and vocal delivery.  Each part all contributes to one hell of a heavy metal anthem, dealing with themes of being rock stars and dominating your world.  It’s loud, aggressive, and intense to boot, with several heavy riffs, Roth’s howling vocals, filled with metal screams out the wazoo, and one hell of a slaying guitar solo.  The lyrics, as I’ve mentioned, are pretty basic, dealing with how the band knows you’ll play their song on the radio and even at home with your headphones on.  It’s also about being as loud as possible, matched by the aforementioned music.  It’s a great way to close this album and provide a sonic punch to your eardrums. 

And yes, like how a metal anthem started the album, a metal anthem ends it.  This makes this album closer to metal than you’d think.  Plus, it’s weird how I start with dank memes.  It’d be ironic if this started memes.

And now for my final thoughts.  Most people have considered this to be one of the greatest heavy metal and hard rock albums to have ever come out.  Any comments that can be mentioned have already been mentioned.  What I can say about this album that has already been said?  Almost everything.  It isn’t perfect, but for what it is, it is a breathtaking album that has, surprisingly, aged extremely well, being as fresh today as it was in 1978.  It hits hard, it’s filled with energy, the guitar playing is revolutionary, the rhythm section is stellar, and the vocals are a force to be reckoned with.  Every musician here, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, and Michael Anthony, is at their a-game here.  Where most other bands would do something safe and part of a trend to start before doing the weirder stuff, this band decided to do their own thing from song 1.  And helping matters is Ted Templeman’s production, which gives the album its flair as well as its edge.  Plus, the recording techniques for this album gave it a sense of unpredictability as it was recorded mostly life with most if not all imperfections and blunders kept in the songs, giving off a raw sense of instant energy.  The single sticking issue that may hurt the album for some of you may be that this album, between “Eruption” and “On Fire,” may have too many songs about making love and that being a theme that pervades this album, despite only 3 songs in this cluster not being directly about sex (other themes include being on your own, desiring more than a one night stand, being the alpha, and broken dreams).  To me, that gives the album its rock ‘n’ roll credentials easily, so different strokes for different folks.  Plus, David Lee Roth makes a better ladies-man than most of our current “artists,” so there’s an advantage here.  If it wasn’t for “Little Dreamer” not being as catchy or memorable as the rest of the album, this would have been a perfect 10, but songs like “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Eruption,” “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “I’m The One,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” “Atomic Punk,” “Feel Your Love Tonight,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “On Fire,” or the entire rest of the album, ensure its final rating.  In short, this is a rock and metal MUST OWN!  If you don’t have it on Vinyl, Cassette, CD, or even MP3, get it.  If you haven’t listened to it at all?

Final Rating: 9.5/10 (Guitar-driven hard rock at its finest)

Next time on Let Them Eat Metal: 6 Way Battle: 2nd Wave Glam Metal debuts

Until next time, this is the Rock Otaku.  Live Loud, Play Hard, and Eat Metal.

All used references are done under the rules of fair use and are owned by their original creators.

No comments:

Post a Comment