Halestorm is one of the few bands I discovered by listening to the radio. I was changing CD’s once and the radio cut in as I was popping the disc out. The single “I Miss the Misery” was playing on the local rock station. Needless to say, I didn’t change CDs right away. I waited the song out and gathered the band’s name. After that, I picked up a copy of The Strange Case of… as soon as possible and it has remained one of my favorite albums ever since and Halestorm one of my favorite bands.
From my examination of Halestorm’s albums, their self-titled debut album is the weakest. Also, it is less ambitious than later records. It feels like a generic rock album. Now, it is a really good generic rock album, however it sticks to a comfortable formula with a few sprinkles of personal twists.
Overall, the album is structured well and enjoyable. There are notable songs on it, such as “It’s Not You” and “I’m Not an Angel”. However, this record still pales in comparison to their later work. The music on Halestorm bends and moves naturally from song to song. The fast and heavy songs are well done, as one would expect from a Grammy award winning band. The harder tunes are well placed too. They do not overload either end of the disc. The slower tunes are equally well done.
Throughout the album, crunching guitars prowl far below Lizzy Hale’s iconic vocals while her brother hammers away on the drum kit, spewing lovely fills and beats. However, this formula has been done too often, even if it’s run through Halestorm’s unique filter.
In my review of Vicious I stated clearly that I did not enjoy this album, so why would I put in three place? The answer is simply. Halestorm did what they wanted. They made a record they could be proud of, rather than one that would reaffirm their dedication to serving legions of fans they picked up after The Strange Case of.
Lizzy Hale’s vocals were off the charts on this album, and personally it is one of the most attractive pieces of the album. While the rest of the band certainly held their own, I found Lizzy’s voice that stunning. In addition to her voice, the themes discussed on this record are very timely. In my review I called the broad overarching theme “the cultivation of the unique and beautiful individual within”. In other words, the lyrics focus on self empowerment and being your own person.
The songs released on YouTube before the album dropped are thrilling. They are fairly close to what one could call “classic-Halestorm”. “Uncomfortable” and “Black Vultures” are radio friendly rock tunes while “Do Not Disturb” is a sex infused song, in the same vain as their hit “I Got Off”. My favorite song on the record was the closing tune, “The Silence“. Not too surprisingly, its a nostalgic ballad, similar to “Here’s to Us”.
#2 Into the Wild Life
Into the Wild Life is by far Halestorm’s most ambitious record, so far. The band incorporated different elements, namely borrowing some pop aspects. Unfortunately, this attempt blew back on the band. Fans did not enjoy this new “modern” sound. Perhaps this is why the band endeavored to dive back to their roots on the follow up album, Vicious.
Some may rate Into the Wild Life as the band’s worst album. Mostly, I feel this is due to how different it is from the rest of their material. However, I feel this is both the biggest strength and weakness. The band attempted to craft something outside of their comfort zone. They wanted to stretch their sound and bring new elements and styles into their music. This is good and it should be encouraged, as I argued for in this essay about creativity.
The band did slip in some classic Halestorm tracks. “Amen” and “Apocalyptic” are two that surface rather quickly. These are enjoyable songs that will easily attach themselves to a serious rocker’s musical rotation.
A side note, the first few songs on the album are seamless. They blend together as if they were a single track. Usually when songs bleed into one another the album becomes bland and hollow. However, in this case, Halestorm stitches them together with an expert’s touch. I love when bands accomplish this. It shows maturity and craftiness. In the end, this offers an exciting layer to the music.
#1 The Strange Case of…
Halestorm’s second album lands in the top spot. My opinion about this record may be slightly biased, given that it was the first Halestorm album I indulged in. However, the lead single “Love Bites (So Do I)” won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2013. This doesn’t mean the entire album is stunning, but it’s certainly a good indication.
The Strange Case of… didn’t just make Halestorm a household name in the rock community, it put them on top of the map. It rocketed them straight up there with bands that have been famous for decades. During the Grammys, Halestorm beat out long standing metal groups such as Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Anthrax. This alone says something about the quality of their music.
The Strange Case of… combined a series of elements from different subsidiaries of the “rock ‘n’ roll family. For example, the band borrows pieces of heavy metal and fuses them to ideas found in softer rock. Arejay Hale’s drumming is rather heavy (and a joy to listen to!), while Lizzy Hale’s vocals are soaring, and at times dainty. In the end, their patchwork sound is their own.
Besides the Grammy winning lead single, there are other great songs to dive into on this record. I would recommend listening to the whole album. Every song is laced with something special. However, if I had to choose, the song that introduced me to the band, “I Miss the Misery” is a good place to start. It’s another great rock song that I couldn’t quite nail on Rock Band. “Here’s to Us” is a great ballad about overcoming mistakes and “All the times that we fucked up”.