02/06/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
years ago change frontmen—from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar—without dropping a stitch. This, after all, is Eddie's show. And his high-test blend of technical virtuosity and sheer propulsion has rarely sounded better.
Oh, there are some mellifluous songs here, like "Can't Stop Loving You" and "Not Enough." And the best track, "Take Me Back," gingerly treads a middle path between the pretty and the potent. But those are just moments of respite wedged in between Richter-ready rumbles like "Amsterdam" and "Aftershock." Though producer Bruce Fairbairn has brought depth and sheen to Balance, this is still unregenerate headbanger music. Every Van Halen album is like spring break: a thinly veiled excuse for mayhem. (Warner Bros.)