The Strange Case Of… by Halestorm – Fifth year anniversary review

Halestorm is an American hard rock band from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Lzzy Hale, her brother drummer and percussionist Arejay Hale, guitarist Joe Hottinger, and bassist Josh Smith.

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In 2009, Halestorm released their debut self tilted album where they showed a lot of potential which will be improved on later albums. Album features really good guitar work and extremely good vocals done by vocal powerhouse Elizabeth Lzzy Hale. Songs like “I’m Not An Angel”  showed that Halestorm is capable of writing really good power ballads and not lose what made them good. Overall this is really good debut album full of good and really good songs.

 

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3 years later, after one good covers EP and one really good live album Halestorm released their sophomore album called The Strange Case Of… Was Halestorm another band that was victim of sophomore slump?

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Definitely not because this album is even better. It is like all good things from debut album times two. Every single thing is better on this album. Production, vocals and especially instrumentation. Album is opened by very up tempo high energy hard rock song “Love Bites(So Do I)” which is amazing song to open up the album. You simply can not open hard rock album with slow down tempo power ballad.  Opening guitar riff is amazing and it perfectly sets up the mood for the song and for the rest of the album. Lzzy’s vocals are very theatrical on some places which adds up to the overall sound of the song and the part when she uses her shouting vocals is amazing. Guitar riff during that part is so groovy which I love a lot. Guitar solo even though it is not complex at all is very good and makes the song sound a lot better. This song is mainstream rock done right. Same can be said for every single song on this album because every single song is at least good and some of them are very good. This song won Grammy and it absolutely deserved that.

Next song is “Mz.Hyde” and just like previous song “Mz.Hyde” is absolutely fantastic. Song portrays main protagonist in her “wild” personality. That’s why this song is called “Mz.Hyde”. I like how song starts very slow and explodes after few seconds creating big amount of energy. This song is made to be played live. Everything about it fits the concept of a great live song.

If you have ever heard of Halestorm there is a big chance that you have heard “I Miss The Misery”. This was the song that made them household name in the mainstream rock and it is absolutely fantastic. Lzzy’s vocals on this song shine bright like a diamond. I love how song opens up with really good scream. Instrumentation in this song is much more simple than in the rest of the song but that is not bad in this case. It opens up a lot of space for Lzzy’s vocals to shine. I love those drums during the outro. This song is ended on such a high note just like it was started. With Lzzy’s vocal scream.

One thing that always fascinated me about Halestorm was their power ballads and piano ballads. This album has three power ballads and one piano ballad and all of them are amazing. First one on the track listing is “Beautiful With You”. Lzzy’s vocal delivery is what makes this song. It’s very subtle and it perfectly fits the overall sound of the song. In the last minute everything becomes much more bigger and also in that part we have very nice key change that brings this song to whole another level of awesomeness.  “In Your Room” is as good as “Beautiful With You” but with better lyrics and same can be said for “Break In”.

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From this point album makes radical shift in the sound. Next three songs are very hard rock up tempo songs just like first four songs on the album. Ones I will be talking about are “Daughters Of Darkness” and “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing”.  Just like “I Miss The Misery” “Daughters Of Darkness” starts with Lzzy Hale using her very raspy screaming type of vocal delivery which I like a lot. That part is repeated throughout the song more times which makes the song sound much better. Those vocals are very commanding which when mixed with very stumbling rhythm makes perfect mix. There is something really good about song ending with violins and that is another thing that makes this song to stand out.

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Next one is “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing” and guitar work on this song is probably best on the whole album. That intro riff is absolutely fantastic, especially that slide part.One thing that rarely is talked mentioned when people talk about Halestorm is Arejay Hale’s drums. Seriously, his drums on this album are really good. Drums in this song, “I Miss The Misery” and “Love Bites(So Do I)” are one of the main reasons why those song sound really good. His best performances are on those very high tempo hard rock songs because his style,which is very energetic, fits those songs perfectly.

 

lzzy25.jpgLzzy Hale showed on this album how good vocalist she actually is. Songs like “Freak Like Me”, “I Miss The Misery” and “Love Bites(So Do I)” are perfect example of that. Her vocals are one of the reasons why I like this album this much. Her and Floor Jansen are tied as my favorite vocalists of all time. Her range is really showing up on this album. Almost every song is carried by her amazing vocals. Just listen to the song “Daughters Of Darkness”. Her commanding voice mixed with the sound of stumbling feet is what makes that song. Her guitar playing is really good too, but one thing that totally blew me away was her skill to make her voice sound very emotional. Best examples would be songs “Break In” and “Beautiful With You”. Also “Break In” has an amazing piano instrumentation which is played by her.

Most common criticism on Halestorm was always their lyrics. I even agree with some of them but this album has a lot of really good lyrics. Songs like “Beautiful With You”, “In Your Room”, “Break In” represent every day relationships in such a clever way. “Rock Show” pictures the beautiful picture of the atmosphere on every rock show and “Here’s To Us” is great song that celebrates friendship and all ups and downs of it. Even the song with worse lyrics are really good because if there is any person that should be singing about sex and enjoyment of it then that is Lzzy Hale. She sells those lyrics so good that you sometimes do not even get what are they about.

One thing that I love about this album is how songs are placed in the track listing. First four songs are very hard hitting up tempo rock songs. Those four songs are followed by two really good power ballads and one piano ballad, after that we get one set of hard rock songs. Album’s closed by beautiful anthem “Here’s To Us” that celebrates friendship. Overall sound of the album does not shift too many times so it is actually quite pleasing when sound goes from very hard rock oriented sound to power ballad oriented sound. It is not that hard of a change. Imagine if songs were placed in this order for example: one hard rock song and then one power ballad. It would not work. It is kinda unpleasing when album changes its sound so much so I am glad that that is not case with this album

Overall this is simply amazing album full of a lot of really good songs. On average I would give this album 9.5/10 but as a whole this album is absolute 10/10.

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