REVIEW: HALESTORM – “Vicious”
Halestorm are currently considered by many to be the golden children of modern rock bands, producing hooking riffs, soaring solos and choruses that cling to your mind for weeks on end. If their live show is the backbone to all that is Halestorm, then they, and their producer Nick Raskulinecz have gone and captured that magic and committed it to tape, giving rise to ‘Vicious’, their latest album. One that will, despite some lows, see many a fan pleased for some time to come.
As opening track “Black Vultures” kicks off, it is evident that there has been a significant cog turn within the Halestorm camp. Displaying a new fluidity in playing, and a fresh savagery in singer Lzzy Hale’s vocals, both make for a strong handshake on this record. The momentum is further capitalised with “Buzz,” a perilous number that envelops itself in gritty rock guitars and lyrics, once again, delivered with impeccable raw angst, proving to be yet another triumph for Lzzy Hale.
Throughout, ’Vicious’ rides waves over peaks and valleys, delivering some towering highs as well as some unexpected lows. “White Dress” flawlessly achieves one of these peaking highs, with the band reaching their strongest form as guitarist Joe Hottinger and drummer Arejay Hale coming to the forefront with a balls to the wall, no prisoners anthem. The antithesis of this, the highly questionable “Do Not Disturb” recites a warts and all love story from the road by way of a travelling artist, but falls inert somewhere between danger and charm. Unfortunately, it offers little outside of a double take moment loosely hinged on singer Hale’s curiosity as to what a particular accent sounds like climaxing. Fortunately, we are spared the details, and the valleys dip no lower than this.
While Halestorm have shown they can deliver the heavier, edgier goods, they also excel in stripping it back to bare bones and laying it all on the line with “Heart Of Novocaine.” An unconventional ballad, untainted by the common saturation that comes with over production often applied to a song like this, this predominantly acoustic piece, complimented by a tasteful bass solo provided by Josh Smith, is destined to break hearts while cementing itself in the bands “Best Of” material. Not unlike the album closer “The Silence” which, although born of the same recycled formula, contains performances that transcend the needless repetition, even if it doesn’t quite reach the same timeless quality of its predecessor.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, this Pennsylvanian quartet are one of the few outfits keeping good ol’ Rock N’ Roll pulsating, and, in some respects, even interesting. What ‘Vicious’ offers, among some curious decisions, is some stellar performances with no two parts sounding the same. An invaluable rarity in an era of Pro-Tools cut and paste. Part venust, part venom, all vicious, Halestorm continue to play a valuable part in keeping the rock movement alive and well. If, like so many, Halestorm echo the past, they do so with candour, playing to its strengths as opposed to trying to relive, or retell it.