By VHND’s Scott Essman
On the April 7 episode of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic, the “Throwdown” segment pitted Van Halen and its new album “A Different Kind of Truth” against Metallica and “Death Magnetic” for Best Comeback Album by a hard rock/heavy metal artist, ostensibly one whose heyday was in the hard rock-metal glory years of the 1980s.
Guests for the April 7 episode included Alice (Vincent Furnier) Cooper and Jack Russell, lead singer of the 1980s hard rock band Great White. During the Throwdown, Russell, no stranger to the Los Angeles rock scene, predictably voted for the Van Halen album, as did That Metal Show hosts Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine. The holdout was Don Jamieson who voted for “Death Magnetic.”
During the discussion after voting, Trunk, a hard rock/metal historian, DJ and author, cited his disappointment in “A Different Kind of Truth’s” first single, “Tattoo,” citing its lack of hooks and top playing, and expected the entire album to be a disappoinment. However, Trunk stated that he later found “Tattoo” to be the poorest song on the collection, further noting that the rest of the album is solid throughout. Florentine and Russell underscored Trunk, describing Van Halen’s return to late 1970s/early 1980s form with a welcomed no-holds-barred approach and top playing by the band, most notably Eddie Van Halen.
Though Jamieson stated that “Death Magnetic” was the stronger of the two albums, being Metallica’s finest since 1988’s “… And Justice for All,” the other three on the panel steadfastly asserted that Van Halen rocked out on “A Different Kind of Truth” unlike any record since the classic first four Van Halen albums in their 1978-1981 period. Russell went even further by claiming that having a Van Halen album with David Lee Roth back as vocalist was a true resurrection of the band, stating that the Sammy Hagar/Gary Cherone periods, regardless of their inherent qualities, did not represent “real” Van Halen.
Following the “Throwdown” discussion, always held at the very end of the shows, Jamieson took an informal crowd poll which might have given Metallica the edge though it was not a clear favorite (and in a metal-only audience would be expected anyway). Regardless, the metal fans in the Los Angeles crowd did show due love for Van Halen and its rebirth, a sentiment being echoed at arenas across America in 2012.
You can watch the Throwdown below. It starts at 41:11…