Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Warner Bros. Records
Hard Rock
11 songs (52:00)
Release year: 1991
Van Halen, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Archive review
As the 1990s came along, it only took a year after the start of the decade for Van Halen to churn out an album that gave new hope to the fans that were left disappointed by the new, more pop-influenced direction that the band headed into after the arrival of singer Sammy Hagar. With a name that is a pretty clear jab at the prominent censorship groups of the time like the PMRC, it’s easy to see from the get-go that F.U.C.K. was meant to have a harder edge throughout. The synthesizers and excess amounts of sugar are gone in favour of in-your-face rhythms, considerably more aggressive guitar tones harkening back to the band’s debut album and most notably Hagar bringing out his signature croon with a lot more gruff and harsh attack. The result is simply the best album of the Van Hagar-era.

I’ve always loved the power drill-sounds at the beginning of the opener, Poundcake, as it really appropriately signifies that we’re in for an attack. Driving riffs, a super-catchy chorus, Eddie bringing the soaring, melodic solos in utter disregard of the rising grunge movement and a slick-yet-razor-sharp production job that just feels huge, towering out of your speakers. Fortunately the levels remain equally great on the mixing board throughout the record as the soundscape reflects the rougher song material really well.

Beyond the half-ballad The Dream Is Over and the soothing guitar instrumental 316, the song material is all-out rocking in premium VH-fashion. Judgement Day, Runaround and In ‘N’ Out bring the fast-paced slabs of air guitar-ownage while cuts like Spanked and Man On A Mission give the Van Halen-brothers and Michael Anthony the space to unleash some mean grooves that just make me want to jam on the spot for hours on end. Pleasure Dome brings a darker, more epic feel that has a noticeable flavour of Rush in it. I really like the signature hit of the album (and I believe the one song that Hagar-era Van Halen is most often linked to), Right Now, as well. The mixture of the slightly ominous piano intro and the mid-tempo grind of the band mixes together perfectly. It’s also a slight oddball of a tune in that it has in my mind the ultimate party rock band doing a good bit of social commentary. Although mind you that it’s just on a general human level without going into any specific field such as politics. Top Of The World is a seriously fitting closer for the record as a rapid, spirit-lifting fistpumper, which of course gets bonus points from me for being built around the ending guitar riff of my favourite song ever, the bands own Jump.

Overall, there isn’t a bad song in the bunch here and anyone (understandably) sceptical about trying anything from the post-David Lee Roth-era of the band, I immediately urge you to sample some of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. From the consistently awesome high-pitched background vocals to the massive riffage, it's Van Halen as almost every fan I know adores them. Admittedly my favourite band hasn't been consistently awesome on record since this doozy, but that’s an observation to be elaborated in future reviews. F.U.C.K. rules.

Killing Songs :
Poundcake, Judgement Day, Runaround, In 'N' Out, Man On A Mission, Right Now, 316 and Top Of The World
Aleksie quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Van Halen that we have reviewed:
Van Halen - A Different Kind Of Truth reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 95 / 100
Van Halen - Best Of Volume I reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Van Halen - Van Halen III reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 40 / 100
Van Halen - Balance reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 72 / 100
Van Halen - Live: Right Here, Right Now reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
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