Review by Maria Glover for MPM
Perhaps the most exciting rock band out of the US in a very long time, Halestorm are back with their fifth album ‘Back From The Dead’ out now via Atlantic Records.
Between their debut release in 2009 and now, the band have grown in stature and popularity and as musicians, and they are one of the hottest acts on both sides of the pond. Known for their incessant touring schedules, the lockdowns over recent years have obviously taken their toll, as with us all, and that comes through in the lyrics and the air of defiance this album evokes.
Siblings Lzzy and Arejay Hale have been writing and performing together since they were kids and in 2003 Joe Hottinger joined the band, Josh Smith in 2004. The band now complete, they signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 2005 and released a live EP titled ‘One and Done’ – which is now out of print but potentially worth a lot of money if you have one laying around.
Trying to pick a favourite track from the latest album is like trying to pick your favourite child – you just can’t do it. By the third song I had ordered my copy. This all killer, no filler album is an outstanding album which is a real contender for album of the year, a game changer.
The heaviest song is the title-track ‘Back From The Dead’ with roaring vocals, screaming their intent. It’s blistering and melts your headphones. In ‘Wicked Ways’ Lzzy Hale says “don’t call me an angel” and, although she can sound cherubic, this vocal-led banger is anthemic, bold and provocative, with pounding drums which challenge the powerhouse vocal for the spotlight.
This angst, attitude and rebellion feature throughout the record, themes focusing on mental health, confidence and self-love, giving the album a real life-affirming and no bull quality, and instantly hitting the right nerve for many.
Whilst the very cathartic ‘Strange Girl’ is dark and menacing, layered with mystery, ‘Brightside’ is more optimistic and suggests we look for the positive in a shitty situation, a commanding melody and riffs delivered with the precision of the Persian Shamshir sword.
‘The Steeple’ has soaring vocals and a stylish guitar solo as the band describe their army of fans; “You are my people”. The beatific and melodic vocal entices you in and keeps you enthralled for the duration. And that closing note – just wow. What a voice.
‘Terrible Things’ is a stunning acoustic track with teeth. I love when rock and metal bands involve strings, which add a further layer of beauty in this song, making this one of my favourites on the whole album and of Halestorm all time. It kind of feels like you’re being told you’re a total shitbag by the sweetest person in the loveliest way and then thanking them. I love it!
‘My Redemption’ and ‘Bombshell’ have yet more to offer us as the album thunders on, the bass in the latter rumbling in my throat, as Hale uses her vocal range to switch between unforgiving and seductive. Continuing the ‘strong, independent, sensual woman’ theme, I adored ‘I Come First’ from the very first note. It strengthens the take-no-shit attitude, and ‘Pyscho Crazy’ takes the next step as a real battle cry; “if you want crazy, I’ll give you psycho”. I want it all hun. Bring it.
The album closes with the enchanting piano ballad ‘Raise Your Horns’ which I suspect will become an emotional crowd-anthem when performed live. It’s beautiful and just sentimental enough. The strength of Hale’s vocals are show-cased front and centre in this acoustic work of art which evokes a feeling that this is just the beginning and brighter things will come.
This often-introspective album is rich in emotion and gets better with every play, a perfect treasure of rock anthems and melodic masterpieces sung by one of the greatest female rock vocalists around, who has honed her skill and unleashes it at you from every perspective. A plethora of sensations are evoked, from all out rebellion and insurgence to reflection and regret. Long live the queen that is Lzzy Hale.
Back From The Dead” Track Listing:
Back From The Dead
I Come First
Raise Your Horns