May 6, 2022 Halestorm – Back From the Dead (Album Review)
The story of Halestorm goes back a long time… 25 years to be exact when Arejay and Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale first began the band while they were only young kids. Since that time, a whole lot has happened, starting with their first legitimate mainstream exposure around 2009 with their impressive self-titled debut. Still pretty green at the time, 2012’s The Strange Case Of… gave them their first Grammy with the single “Love Bites (So Do I),” before 2015’s Into the Wild Life became their highest charting album and most mature output to date. Then in 2018’s Vicious showed all sides of the band as hard rockers, but also very capable musicians.
Which leads us to 2022, two years after worldwide turmoil due to COVID-19. A stressful time for all, like many bands, Halestorm was forced to postpone touring through 2020, thus prompting them to help out their then unemployed road team with the #RoadieStrong campaign. A noble cause to help those who helped them, they would soon turn their attention to a new album in early 2021, and now on May 6, 2022 release the highly anticipated Back From the Dead.
Now without understanding the backstory behind the time creating this new album, you would probably wonder, why is Halestorm coming back from the dead? From what we can all see everything has been going pretty darn well for them over the last decade. Well, the story goes that the band began working on new songs prior to the COVID-19 windstorm. All fine and dandy, then the lockdowns hit, and amidst isolation, Lzzy Hale fell into a funk. Easy to understand why, she was faced with figuring out who she was, what she wanted, and how she was going to re-ignite that flame once more. A journey many of us have been on, for Lzzy it was more than just figuring how she would approach the new music, but how to find hope in humanity when it seemed like we were all falling apart at the seams. Fortunately for Lzzy, Arejay (drums), Joe Hottinger (guitar), and Josh Smith (bass) inspiration was uncovered through hard work and self-discovery. No doubt a grind, the light at the end of the tunnel came into view and thus we have the 11 new songs that make up Back From the Dead.
So what do you get with Back From the Dead? The answer is you get an album that sounds like a band who scratched and clawed their way through each writing/recording sessions. Together they found inspiration from within and delivery a heavy, passionate collection of songs. This is clearly evident from the energy Lzzy puts into the album’s lead single “Back From the Dead,” but crazy enough, she sustains that same high level of power for the remainder of the album. What does this mean? It means you get Lzzy taking her talented pipes to the limit as she belts out one intense vocal performance after another; from “Wicked Ways” to the almost erotic “Strange Girl.”
You also get glimpses of hope in a dark time with “Brightside,” an anthem for those of us who do not really fit the mainstream with “Steeple,” and an very honest tale told about the fragmented state of humanity in “Terrible Things.” Touching on topics that are very personal, more confidence is fed out with “My Redemption,” before the take no prisoner lyrics of “Bombshell” and “Psycho Crazy.” Then, in the end, the band dish out what could be arguably the most emotional song of the album, “Raise Your Horns.” Not what you think it would be based on the title alone, the finale is a piano driven piece where Lzzy wears her heart on her sleeve in an ear-tingling raw vocal performance that is worthy of being belted out within a cathedral’s walls.
All in all the struggle Halestorm went through to get Back From the Dead made was worth it. They dug deep and found a way to unify the best aspects of their previous works into one tight ball all while giving us something new. A potent album of heaviness and what could be one of Lzzy Hale’s finest moments as a vocalist, Cryptic Rock gives Back From the Dead 4.5 out of 5 stars.