So it’s finally here? One of my most anticipated albums of this year. A new album by one of my all time favorites bands, Pennsylvania rockers Halestorm. I have been a fan of them ever since their last album Into The Wild Life came out and loved pretty much all of their albums so far, with Strange Case Of… being one of my all-time favorite albums. I even did a 5-year anniversary review of it. You can read it here. Like most people, my first taste of Halestorm was their absolute bangers Love Bites(So Do I) and I Miss The Misery.
Halestorm has always been one of most complete bands in today’s era. You have soaring vocals courtesy of Lzzy Hale, the great drumming of her brother Arejay Hale, pretty good guitar work from Lzzy and Joe, and very good support bass work from Josh.
So, what’s up with this new album called Vicious? Does it live up to expectations?
Oh boyo, boyo, boyo. Holy fucking shit. This album might have even exceeded my expectations. Right out the gate, Lzzy sounds fucking amazing on the whole album. She is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Album is opened by a second single called Black Vultures and honestly, it’s a total banger. Love Lzzy’s soaring vocals that open the song and especially way guitars come in in the chorus honestly makes the song for me. They have so much of that oomph element in it. To be honest, guitars sound pretty great in the whole album. Nick really did a great job in the production department.
Now, next song on the album is one that surprised me quite a lot. I am talking about song Skulls. If you are still waiting for that Tool album that will probably never come out this might serve you as some kind of fix. It is also one of best songs of the year and best song of the album. The bassline is absolutely fantastic, honestly, this might be the best thing Josh’s has done for Halestorm so far. It has that very recognizable Tool drop D guitar work and a little bit of Alice In Chains which I can always appreciate which is all rounded up yet again by Lzzy’s amazing vocal performance. This is probably their heaviest song so far and definitely their heaviest album. Also, kid choir is really neat detail.
The first single from this album was song Uncomfortable, and honestly, it increased my expectations even more because the song is absolutely amazing. Really loving no fucks given attitude Lzzy shows in this song, especially in a song like this one, song that is essentially a middle finger to all misogynistic people over badass as fuck instrumental.
Out of all songs on this album tightest sounding one has to be song Do Not Disturb. Just listen to how drums(especially that hi-hat pattern), bass and guitar play off of each other. It’s so tasty to listen to. Also, side note for some reason pre-chorus of this song reminded me so much of Take It Off by Kesha. The guitar solo that leads into the last chorus is great and fits perfectly. It’s not too flashy but not too basic either.
Conflicted has this looping acoustic guitar riff that might sound generic to some people but I don’t know it suits the song so well that I can ignore that part of it. I love how song gradually builds up towards the chorus.
Alongside Lzzy’s vocals and writing badass riffs Halestorm’s biggest strength has always been their ability to write fantastic hooks that stick in your mind. They show that perfectly on Killing Ourselves To Live. It is kinda cheesy and stadium sounding chorus but I lowkey love it. It’s one of those “lighters out bois” choruses and I always have had soft spot for that stuff so I love this too. Killing Ourselves To Live intro riff sounds like something off of Pantera album but slowed down.
What is Halestorm album without at least one fantastic and a gut-wrenching ballad? This time we have got Heart of Novacaine. By the time Lzzy’s raspy soaring vocals come in I am already in tears. They add a shit ton of emotion to this already great song. They are something that elevates it.
The only song I am not too much of a fan is song Painkiller. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad at all. It’s just a little bit too repetitive and the chorus does not hit me as much as I wished it did.
Something I have to praise them for is that this album is nothing like the rest of their discography for a very big part. As I already mentioned this is probably their heaviest album and most live sounding one. That is something they have been trying to make all these years and finally, they did it. Their live shows are fantastic and they have finally captured that live energy on the album too.
You can clearly hear their influences on this album, Alter Bridge, Nine Inch Nails, Tool etc, but still, they add that Halestorm flavor to them and make the song theirs. So, let me try to summarize. On this album, Halestorm had influences from Rap rock, Alternative metal, Nu metal, Hard Rock, Industrial rock. That’s another strength of this album. Variety of the sounds in the album. Album very rarely starts to sound samey.
You are probably thinking right now “Nine Inch Nails, what?” but yeah, there is a song on this album that is clearly influenced by Nine Inch Nails and that song is the title track of this album Vicious. Its chorus may be pretty standard sounding mainstream rock chorus but it’s so memorable and edgy in a good way that it does not bother me too much and industrial influences help it a lot.
Album is ended by another great ballad, The Silence and honestly, I am glad they did it this way because title track really does not feel like ending of the album. It reminds me quite a bit of Alter Bridge’s Watch Over You which is a fantastic song so I can not complain way too much.
When it comes to lyrics this album deals with themes of survival(songs like Black Vultures and Killing Ourselves To Live), understatement personal growth, shedding light on darker stuff, sexual attraction and all around badassery that Lzzy Hale is.
My favorite line from this album is as follows:
‘Cause baby, I’m just one of the boys
With this line, Lzzy is trying to tell that she as a woman should have same rights in the music industry as her male counterparts and when paired with rest of the lyrics from the song that line hits very good. This line sums up Lzzy as a person very well in my opinion. Always fighting to paint a picture of rock music as a genre that is not “sausage fest” anymore. Place where not only guys can be successful.
Overall this album is absolutely fantastic different influences, badass guitar riffs, fantastic vocal performances, tasty as fuck drum work and bass work that might be very hesitant at parts but when it’s more in front it’s really good. I definitely recommend you to check it out if you did not so far.
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