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Veteran Rockers Stay With Program

Nineteen-ninety-four was the year when hard rock and so-called alternative music finally collided in the wide popularity of such bands as Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden.

You would think that this phenomenon might render a band such as Van Halen obsolete. After all, why get your guitar ‘n’ bombast from a bunch of guys who started playing together before you were born?

But, if any of this has occurred to the Los Angeles band, you wouldn’t know it from listening to this album.

Rather than try to imitate the gritty, less structured sound of the newcomers, the veteran foursome is sticking with the program that has made it one of the most durable hard-rock bands ever.

Even with a new producer, Bruce Fairbairn, the sound remains the same, from Eddie Van Halen’s flashy guitar to the wacky sound effects. An almost imperceptible sense of moderation underscores some of the material - like the tuneful “Can’t Stop Loving You” - to pleasant effect.