Released: July 27, 2018
''What doesn’t kill me
Makes me vicious''
If there is one word to describe Halestorm it’s ‘perseverance’ as the band was formed in 1998, but word of their music started spreading more around 2009, when the band released their self-titled debut record. 2012 saw the release of their breakthrough album “The Strange Case of…”, which showcases the band’s diverse sounds and Lzzy Hale’s powerful vocals. Such songs as “It’s Not You”, “I Get Off”, “Love / Hate Heartbreak”, “I Miss the Misery” or “Love Bites (So Do I)” are a staple of their direct and unapologetic lyrics. Halestorm continued to climb the ladder of success with their 2015 release “Into the Wild Life”, which includes some of the band’s best songs: “I am the Fire”, “I Like it Heavy”, “Mayhem” or “Apocalyptic”. And earlier this year, on July 27, the band released their fourth album, “Vicious” via Atlantic Records”.
In true Halestorm style “Vicious” is a rocking, diverse, heavy, and dynamic collection of songs that show a lot of edge and power but also sensibility and emotion. As vocalist Lzzy Hale stated “this record was about overcoming inner demons”.
Do not disturb
Killing ourselves to live
Heart of novocain
In the end she prevailed over all adversities as on the chorus of opening track “Black Vultures” she belts out “I don't give in, I don't give up / I won't ever let it break me / I'm on fire, I'm a fighter / I'll forever be the last one standing” (which reminds me of “I am the Fire” and its empowering message). Perfect way to start the album.
This struggle with self-doubt, conquering your fears, rising above and being yourself can be seen as the central themes of the album, and such songs as the beautiful acoustic and emotion-filled “Heart of Novocain”, the rocking “Painkiller”, the energetic “Killing Ourselves to Live”, the classy “White Dress” or the gritty title track “Vicious” directly deal with such situations, showing a whole range of emotions and feelings. Fans got a taste of the new music with the first single “Uncomfortable”, a song that features impressive vocals and brisk verses, which bridges the gap between their sassy philosophy of life and the idea of being oneself no matter what. And speaking of sassy lyrics, I love how open they have been about things other people might consider intimate and private, but which are, after all, an integral part of life. As such “Do not disturb” and “Conflicted” can be seen as hymns to the pleasures of the flesh (though not quite as memorable as “I Get Off” or “Apocalyptic”).
Music-wise, this album is quite varied, and eclectic, as “Skulls” and “Buzz” are quite dance-friendly but otherwise dull, while “Killing Ourselves to Live” echoes back to their riff-laden songs, and “Painkiller”, “White Dress”, and “Vicious” can be seen as classic rock anthems. Lzzy showcases her full range, going from melodic, soulful singing (“Heart of Novocain” and “The Silence”) to screaming like a banshee (“Uncomfortable” and “Painkiller”), and everything else in between (as for instance on “Conflicted”). This album may be her best vocal performance yet. The rest of the band is also in tip-top shape, as the instrumental is vibrant and lively, with hefty guitar riffs from ax-man Joe Hottinger, powerful and pounding drums from Arejay Hale, and groovy bass lines from Josh Smith (personally, I love the bass work and guitar solo on “Do not Disturb”).
All in all, “Vicious” is a mature and sophisticated album that solidifies everything Halestorm stands for as a rock band. It shows the evolution and growth of a band that puts heart and soul into their music. It’s passion for good rock n’ roll music at its finest!
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Lzzy Hale – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Arejay Hale – drums, percussion
Joe Hottinger – lead guitar
Josh Smith – bass, keyboards