I was disappointed when I heard that Sammy Hagar left/got fired from Van Halen. I was terrified when I heard that Gary Cherone was going to be the next lead singer. Like most people, up until 1996, all I knew about Extreme was that they played “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted”, so you can understand my fears. As a die-hard Van Halen fan, I dug pretty deep to find some positive aspects to Van Halen’s acquisition. The only encouraging thing I could find, was Extreme’s performance at Freddie Mercury’s (Queen) tribute concert. Cherone displayed both the showmanship of Roth, and a voice more powerful than Hagar and David Lee Roth combined. I was willing to give Cherone the benefit of the doubt. I even went out and bought all of the Extreme albums, and was pleasantly surprised by many of the songs they made. Cherone’s voice seemed like a perfect fit for the band. His funk-rock lyrical style would please the Roth fans – his heart-felt ballads – the Hagar fans. With David Lee Roth no longer a legitimate option, Cherone seemed like an appropriate successor. But things went horribly wrong. After listening to “III” for the first time, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “When did Sammy Hagar rejoin the band?” Gary Cherone sounds NOTHING like Gary Cherone on this album. The bluesy vocals and powerful high-notes that impressed me about Cherone, are now replaced with awkward and strained screams. “III” sounds like a 3rd-rate Van Halen cover band. Cherone’s numerous political and religious references in his lyrics don’t mesh with the Eddie, Alex’s and Mike’s music. When did Van Halen become R.E.M.? This album isn’t as much a disaster, as it is a disappointment. “Neworld” – A lame piano intro.”Without You” – About as close as this album comes to replicating the sound of the original Van Halen. “One I Want” – Has the frame-work of a good song, but Cherone’s lyrics irritate my last good nerve.”From Afar” is one of the few bright-spots on the album – proof that Cherone and Van Halen were on the same page… sometimes.”Dirty Water Dog” – Why does Eddie insist on ruining a perfectly good guitar riff with effects? Did we really need a Van Halen song with a sitar as the lead instrument?”Once” – Eddie always said he wanted to write a song as good as Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” – well, good job, Eddie… you did a great job copying “Red Rain” virtually note for note. All that aside, if you take away the harmonic, echoing, “once…once…once”, I might actually like this song. “Fire in the Hole” – All the makings of a great rock n’ roll song, but they managed to screw it up with a lack-luster chorus and a bullhorn-ending that sounds very similar to something Pink Floyd did on “The Wall”.”Josephina” – Not terrible, but if you’ve heard the song that this song replaced (“That’s Why I Love Ya”), you’d wish that “Josephina” never existed.”Year to the Day” – “Feelin’ – Part 2″.”Primary” – Again, another song intro. Again with the sitar sound-effect.”Ballot or the Bullet” – Could have been really cool, but Cherone’s lyrics seem very out of place.”How Many Say I” – Not only the worst Van Halen song ever written, quite possibly the worst song ever written… period. It looks like “III” will be the last Van Halen album we’ll ever hear. If that doesn’t make you wish for the days of Hagar and Roth, I don’t know what will.