Full disclosure: I have been a Halestorm fan since the release of ‘The Strange Case Of…’, but I felt like there were elements that needed to be taken to another level. With the release of the ‘Into The Wild Life’ album, I didn’t feel a strong connection to the material, and the changes I wished for did not happen, but I still had hope.
Just to expand on my Halestorm wish list a bit, there were a few areas I hoped would be addressed. First, I wanted to feel more like they belonged to the hard rock/ metal community. It always felt like they were on the cusp, but not quite there. Therefore, I wanted more aggression, meatier riffs/tempo changes, and more blood curdling Lzzy screams. Second, I was feeling like they were never recorded in a way that matched the energy of their live performances. With the weapons they have from a musical standpoint, they are a major force to be reckoned with, and that should be apparent in recorded material also. Which brings me to my next point, Arejay. This is a guy who can go toe to toe with just about any hard rock drummer out there, and I felt like he wasn’t shining through and being showcased on record like he should have been. Having said all this, things sure have changed with the release of ‘Vicious.’
After the first spin, I realized that all my Halestorm prayers had been answered. There is literally something for everyone here. There are meaner riffs and more aggression on some tracks, which is a beautiful thing. I feel like Arejay, Josh, and Joe have finally been recorded in a way that their personalities are shining through their playing. Some credit needs to go to producer Nick Raskulinecz, as there is a unique vibe to this album that no other Halestorm album has. Arejay is on fire throughout, and sounds more “up front” than he ever has before. Josh’s bass tone really cuts through beginning to end, and Joe’s leads range from subtle to searing, and every flavor in between.
Then there is Lzzy, who absolutely, positively KILLS top to bottom on this album. She has always been upfront about her voice, in terms of ups and downs. I’m here to tell you that in my humble opinion, her voice has never been stronger. She is like a chameleon song to song, using slight subtleties to work what’s best for each track. There are not many other vocalists that can convey different emotions like Lzzy can. She can convey aggression and attitude on tracks like ‘Vicious’ and ‘Skulls,’ then show a more vulnerable side on a track like ‘The Silence.’ It almost feels as though her voice on this album is reflecting back all the road miles/tons of live shows, coupled with the energy the crowds give to her, resulting in a soulful, powerful vocal performance for the ages.
if you like your Halestorm heavy (like I do), you will love ‘Black Vultures’ and ‘Painkiller.’ And speaking of the aforementioned ‘The Silence,’ it may very well be Lzzy’s greatest recorded vocal performance, beautiful and haunting, with only acoustic and orchestral accompaniment. It’s not very often that I hear a song for the first time, then play it again two more times because I was stunned at what I just heard. It feels almost cinematic, like you would hear it in a scene from a movie where the characters are driving as the sun is coming up, after spending an unforgettable night together. Perfect way to end a stellar album.
Go check ‘Vicious’ out and let me know what you think. It should please longtime fans, metalheads, and all lovers of good music. I am ecstatic about the direction Halestorm is headed in, and I hope they continue to build on this.