Saturday, April 14, 2012

Halestorm Deliver A Strong Sophomore Album

Halestorm is a band with a real old school attitude when it comes to the music business. They practically live on the road as it seems like they are always on tour. They have also established a reputation for being one of the most fan friendly bands out there. In this viral age that we live in, news travels faster than ever and the internet can be a double edged sword for any band.

A lot has happened to the band since their breakout self-titled album was released in 2009. Although they still play small clubs, they have also shared the stage with the big boys on such tours as Avalanche and the Rockstar Uproar Festival. In an industry where more and more female fronted bands are emerging, Halestorm have proven that they are the real deal and not an overnight sensation.

Since breaking out in 2009, the band released the Live in Philly 2010 album, ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP and Hello, It’s Mz. Hyde. The last was a very smart marketing move for the band as it was a four song preview of the much anticipated new album. It did more than just wet the appetites of their fans, it got a buzz brewing inside the industry that this album may just be something really special.

The Strange Case Of… is easily one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 and it definitely delivers in a major way. The album opens with “Love Bites (So Do I)” which is the first single and has blown up big at rock radio. It showcases a sassy, aggressive side to lead singer Lzzy Hale and the song rocks out in a major way. Just as you try and catch your breath, the drums march you into the equally rock worthy “Mz. Hyde”. When Lzzy sings “welcome to the nightmare in my head”, you know this isn’t some wet behind the ears rookie band penning these powerful lyrics.

“I Miss the Misery” is a twisted little number lyrically. Lzzy sings of missing the bad things: the screaming, the blaming, and the kick in the face. In this relationship, she doesn’t miss you per say, she just misses the misery. “Freak Like Me” is another example of the sexy, sassy side that Lzzy has to her. Oh, but wait, the album then suddenly shows the softer side with the song “Beautiful With You” which has the possibility of being a big hit for the band. Lyrically, it’s one of the strongest songs whose content will have mass appeal. Everyone‘s had someone in their life that no matter how dark things get, they are always beautiful to that person.

The next two tracks continue the softer, vulnerable side that Lzzy and the guys are not afraid to show the world. No matter how old we get, we all have a room that we can escape to in which we feel safe from everything and everyone. On “In Your Room”, Lzzy sings of wanting that other person to open up and let her in their room. It’s not about being intrusive, it’s more about feeling comfortable around that other person and totally being yourself. Again, it’s a song whose lyrics have a universal appeal to them.

“Break In” is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing and powerful songs that the band has recorded. In a prime example of “sometimes less is more”, this is simply a piano and Lzzy, with a light string section midway through. Powerful, emotional and very moving, this song will definitely tug on quite a few heartstrings. Lzzy may have sang of the “misery” in an earlier song, this time she sings of that one special person who is able to “break in” the walls that people build to keep from being hurt.

“Rock Show”, which was on the Mz. Hyde EP, definitely shows that Lzzy and the guys still know exactly what it feels like to be a fan of a band. This seems to be one written for the fans and should translate really well in their live show. “You Call Me Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing” is another sassy, tongue in cheek number. “Here’s To Us”, also from the EP, closes out the album and was recently featured on the television show Glee. Now, that version was a sanitized version, but I think it lacks quite a bit of punch without the colorful “adult” words.

I would highly recommend getting the deluxe version of this album. That version has three bonus tracks and includes a pretty amazing song entitled “Private Parts” which features James Michael of SIXX A.M. Another powerful and emotional composition and I am surprised it didn’t make the cut for the regular album.

The entire band has really raised the bar on this release. The rhythm section of Josh Smith on bass and Lzzy’s brother Arejay Hale on drums are tighter than ever playing with more passion than ever. Joe Hottinger has elevated his guitar game to a new level is playing more ferociously than ever. Did someone piss these guys off because they seem to be playing with a renewed purpose. Don’t get me wrong though; it freaking rocks and I love it! As far as Lzzy goes, she proves that she can sing the tender songs that will touch your heart and the grittier songs that will rip out your heart. We hear more of that grittier side on this album when she allows that alter ego to come out and play. She’s also pretty lethal on the guitar too!

Technically, this is Halestorm’s sophomore full length album and they do not fall victim to the dreaded “sophomore slump”. I thought the first album was really good, but this one is on a totally different level. They seem to have a good working relationship with producer Howard Benson, who produced their last album as well. I’m not sure if he pushed the band or if they pushed themselves, but they produced near perfect album this time around.

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