Having embraced sex, skulls, and prescription drugs with 2018’s ‘Vicious’, Halestorm found themselves thrown headfirst into the pit of the pandemic. In 2022, the Pennsylvania quartet crawled back out, re-emerging with dirt under their nails and a noticeably shorter temper on ‘Back From The Dead.’ An album that charges into the unknown full of heart, hurt, and hubris as Halestorm navigate their own resurrection. A return to form, unless you are completely new to the fold and have no idea what that form is, in which case welcome! You’re about to be impressed.
Guitarist and singer, Lzzy Hale, has her inimitable pipes on full display here. Few voices in contemporary rock hold a torch to what Hale brings to the table, the record dripping with character from its opening title track till long after the final song has finished. Hale’s juxtaposed bipolar tones ringing out on the wonderfully and tortuously entangled “Wicked Ways”, “Strange Girl”, and “I Come First.” A showcase of stimulating modern rock tracks demonstrating Hale’s aversion for sub text. Never one to dance between the raindrops, lyrically, Hale owns who she is and what she’s about, saying and singing it like it is. Sounding, at times, a few decibels shy of breathing fire.
Yet for all its heat, ‘Back From The Dead’ does lumber in parts. Ironically, “My Redemption” never quite meets the standard its title suggests. While “Brightside” feels more like stewing in bleaker perspectives over a frankly messy melody that sounds like a slurred tribute to the James Bond theme. Fortunately, that rut stops there as staple moments pick up the slack. Somewhat antithetical to “Brightside”, “Terrible Things” makes for a hauntingly stark and honest account of the world around us. Particularly during a moment when it would be easier not to look. Throughout, the band perform with a flair hot to the touch. Guitarist Joe Hottinger, drummer Arejay Hale, and bassist Josh Smith giving it all on “The Steeple.” An ode to their fans, a celebration of their congregation, this leading single captures the sense of community established with 2012’s “Here To Us” and preaches their appreciation.
More and more we are dismayed by the media we consume, and subsequently condemn. People want to go to bed knowing the lovers got married. Reassured that the police officer apprehended the bad guy. White knighting on behalf of someone else and charming themselves into a narrative that will eventually make them wretch. Halestorm takes a different approach. If the choice is either curse the darkness or light a candle, with ‘Back From The Dead”, Halestorm fuels up and brings a flamethrower to the party. Blazing a new path forward without rewriting their DNA. Continuing their ascent to the top on their own terms. Saying what they mean and meaning what they say. Saying it like only Halestorm can.