May 11, 2015 Halestorm – Into the Wild Life (Album Review)
Pennsylvanians Halestorm have been on a steady climb toward the top of the Hard Rock world for a decade now. Active for almost two decades, the band’s founders Lzzy (guitars/vocals) and Arejay Hale (drums) began while still kids writing music and aspiring to be in a Rock-n-Roll band. Thanks to years of hard work, the band’s determination got them a deal back in 2005 with Atlantic Records. Making a big statement on Rock radio with the single “I Get Off,” from their 2009 self-titled major label debut album, the band was one of the rising acts on the scene finding themselves opening for the likes of Shinedown, Staind, Chevelle, and others. Taking things to the next level, in 2012 The Strange Case Of… won the band a Grammy award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance with single “Love Bites (So Do I).” Now bonafide Rock stars with the powerful vocals of Lzzy, hard hitting drumming of Arejay, the sleek guitar work of Joe Hottinger, and the thick bass of Josh Smith, Halestorm are set to make their biggest statement yet with 2015’s Into the Wild Life. Marking the band’s first record without Howard Benson behind the console, this time around they chose to go with Jay Joyce to capture a different direction for the band. Causing reservations in some, the band strive to continue their progression with this thirteen track album, which hit shelves in North America on April 14th, 2015.
Opening up with “Scream,” Halestorm immediately let their audience know they are going for a much more textured and broad sound than ever before. With the brazen statement, “Kicking down your door, so what you waiting for? Scream ’til they hear you,” the song features double-time drums of Arejay with a healthy dose of bass guitar from Smith, and understated synthesizers while background vocals chant, “Scream!” Seamlessly mastered, “I Am the Fire” fades in as Halestorm shows they are ready for stardom their fans think they deserve. With a simple intro the song breaks out with a cutting mix of drums weaving guitar work and Lzzy’s biting vocals. ” I am the fire, I am burning brighter…” “Screaming like a siren!” Showing a very human and raw feeling, with Lzzy’s voice one can feel the hairs stand on their neck as she belts out the words in the chorus. Next is raunchy rocker “Sick Individual” which beings with a drum solo that settles into an anthemic driving beat while Lzzy states her case for being who she wants to be. A song that many can relate to who are sick of people judging their actions, it most certainly strikes a nerve. Bringing on a funk, knee slapping jam feel, “Amen” is a heavy beat with driving guitars and drums with a congregational answer to Lzzy’s, “Can I get an amen,” in this piece of self awareness.
Slowing down the pace with a broad spacey recording, “Dear Daughter” is beautiful, tear-inducing song of unconditional love, and knowledge of life, to keep your head above water. Written after a phone conversation Lzzy had with her mother, the track was not even initially suppose to be on Into the Wild Life, but sometimes the songs no one expects are the most special. Next “New Modern Love” has a sultry; yet, strong-willed musical tone accompanied with an equally strong-willed statement, “I’ve got a new modern love; I’m not giving it up.” While some may consider the song to have a Country twang, it is easy to see the band were going for a more Classic Rock tone here. For those saying Halestorm has gone soft, “Mayhem” is the perfect kick in their ass measured up by chaotic drums and screeching riffs as Lzzy screams, “Need a little mayhem, when am I gonna get some.” The live feel of the song makes it that much more powerful and resonate the unhinged bellows of Lzzy in epic fashion and Hottinger takes it home with a killer solo. “Bad Girl’s World“ slows it down again with a bluesy piece of being one’s self at all costs. Reflective of the hypocrisy of society that condemn certain behaviors, but glorify it in film and on magazine covers, Lzzy harnesses the emotion of the words beautifully. Then “Gonna Get Mine“ hearkens to Joan Jett with this balls to the wall short, direct strummed anthem.
Bringing on another lighter-raising power ballad is “The Reckoning”with understated guitars and drums, and Lzzy passes judgment, “Like the reckoning you never saw coming. I am the Reaper standing outside your door,” in this story of broken trust. Then there is the album’s lead single “Apocalyptic” which oozes dominant female sexuality complete with grinding, pumping riffs of deliciousness as the drums set the cadence. Raising eyebrows again, “What Sober Couldn’t Say” is a ’70s Contemporary Rock piece, complete with sliding organ, painting the picture of someone drowning out their sorrow. Beautiful executed, it could be perhaps the best song of Into the Wild Life, and one of Halestorm’s shining moments in their already strong career. Closing out the album I Like It Heavy hearkens to Alice Cooper’s “No More Mister Nice Guy” with the guitar solo intro leading to thumping drums as Lzzy sings affectionately about her love for straight of loud Rock-n-Roll. Reaching for the sky for screams that seem to peak out in the red on the console one cannot help but indulge in the exhilarating release.
The deluxe version of Into the Wild has two bonus tracks. The first of the bonus material is “Jump the Gun” which is is a bar slinging swing rocker of plucky guitars, funky drumbeats, and sliding piano work while Lzzy throws it down. The final is “Unapologetic,” which is just that with its classic Metal flavor, Lzzy melodically chanting girl power laced lyrics.
Halestorm definitely comes packing serious heat with Into the Wild, and continue showing evolution of a band willing to grab the listener by the balls while spinning positivity for any generation of girls with an ever growing maturity, even from 2012’s The Strange Case of… and their self-titled 2009 outing. They laugh in the face of credits this time around and do what they wish, when they wish, and it works perfectly. It can not be overstated how perfect the mix of Joyce and mastering work of Richard Dodd make this cohesive monster stand out boldly. With that said, Into the Wild could challenge as one of the best Rock albums of 2015. CrpticRock gives this album 5 of 5 stars.