“Where can we take this where it’s not predictable?” The question running through the recording process of this album is what kept this band on their toes throughout. Halestorm, after emerging into the scene in 1998 have built up a plethora of music with a previous 3 track discography and now their newest release ‘Vicious. It is known that Lzzy Hale’s powerful vocals are somewhat a staple in the atmosphere surrounding the band, let alone the punk-rock genre as a whole. Time to prepare for modern punk rock angst hitting your ears in 3…2…1.
As with most albums, ‘Vicious’ encompasses a variety of track variations, including that of two beautifully styled acoustic incorporation. ‘Heart of Novocaine’ brings a beautifully stripped back aura, emphasising the immense vocal talent Lzzy Hale has to offer and certainly isn’t afraid to bring. Yet, Halestorm don’t just bring straight acoustic tracks. Take ‘Conflicted’ for example; a slower, simplistic track almost bringing a western film music style weaved with sensual lyricism throughout. Emotion is not just captured in the heartfelt anger, but the flowing stripped back emotional hidden talents. Ending on ‘The Silence’ is an example of just this, bringing a track so full of emotion with just a guitar and vocals in its own style shows that this band can reach any side of the spectrum, from heavy to stripped back with not a single fault to be detected.
However, while their acoustics are strong and prominent, Halestorm are known for their quick fire, rapid angst that bursts in many of their tracks from their discography. The two previously released singles ‘Uncomfortable’ and ‘Black Vultures’ help prove the magnitude of heavily channelled anger they have to show, holding nothing back and showing no remorse. ‘Uncomfortable’ through its complex guitar riffs and almost perfect balance of vocals and instrumentals that Lzzy explores as how ‘You can’t please everybody as much as you may want to try’ riding on the fact that to her “Being yourself, you may make other people uncomfortable”. Looking at how the album ends compared to its opening track, there is a very clear contrast. ‘Black Vultures’ opens hard and fast, giving fans exactly what they expect from Halestorm. A little generic? Maybe in some respects, but this is just the beginning; as already explored, the band have so much more up their sleeve.
On the other hand, this album at its core is pure, unfiltered emotion. After all, ‘Vicious’ is about ‘overcoming inner demons’. The quartet easily flow from angst to a slower groove, something much deeper and sensual as in ‘Do Not Disturb’. The track itself is something more than just a sexual energy flow, but instead a groove of instrumental diversity through every aspect, including the much-loved guitar solo incorporation. Even though not every track follows this style of emotion, this doesn’t detract from the bands versatility. To create a track that explores such emotional vulnerability like ‘Killing Ourselves to Live’, with its underlying sadness through the instrumental progression and immense intensity flowing in the wonderful vocals that never fail to impress. Yet, one aspect that can be forgotten easily is the connection of the separate parts of a track. ‘Skulls’ is almost a perfect representation. The track is very on beat, almost like a spoken word piece on a track, with a simplistic bass heavy verse and strong repetitive drum pattern. Lzzy’s spoken lyrics match the beat of brother Arejay Hale’s drumming pattern, perhaps in a way showing the effortless familial relationship between the two throughout the music as opposed to just real life.
It is undeniable, Halestorm have put out another versatile album, packed with true emotion, truths and life experiences. This musical group have been in the running since 1998 and they sure know how to put out an album, an album almost flawless like this. In the end, this release conveys its title, with the prominent lyric from the title track ‘Vicious’ – ‘What doesn’t kill me makes me vicious’.