Halestorm – Reimagined (EP Review)

Lzzy Hale has certainly helped to propel the girls’ club to the forefront of Rock-n-Roll, leading the multi-platinum Halestorm to a Grammy Award win as she conquered the hearts of millions. Now she’s ready to invite Amy Lee to the party, fall in love with Dolly Parton, and spit some fire as the band reinvent themselves on the Reimagined EP. Atlantic Records delivers the semi-acoustic collection to your ears on Friday, August 14, 2020.

Pennsylvania’s Halestorm—Vocalist/Guitarist Hale, Guitarist Joe Hottinger, Bassist Josh Smith, and Drummer Arejay Hale—may come from humble beginnings, but these days they are one of the biggest names in Rock-n-Roll. Making their debut with 2009’s self-titled Halestorm, the foursome would go on to win a Grammy in 2013 for “Love Bites (So Do I) off their sophomore LP, The Strange Case Of…, before delivering two more LPs—2015’s Into the Wild Life and 2018’s Vicious. Known for their seemingly endless touring schedule, the group has gone on to share stages with everyone from Alice Cooper to Papa Roach, In This Moment to Stone Sour. In fact, it’s safe to say that Halestorm have seen a million faces and they’ve rocked every one of them!

Taking a forced vacation from their relentless touring (but remaining #RoadieStrong), and opting to take a break from their traditional schedule of delivering a covers EP between full-lengths, the band sat down with Producer Nick Rasculinecz (Foo Fighters, Stone Sour) to re-envision and reconstruct various fan favorites from their extensive oeuvre of material. This resulted in the 6-song Reimagined EP, which features guest vocalist Amy Lee of Evanescence, a cover of a longtime live set highlight, and more.

As the EP is only six tracks, it has no time to waste! Going hard from the outset, the band delves into some raw Rock-n-Roll to excite your inner voyeur with “I Get Off.” Eleven years after the original magic, Halestorm strips the track down to a bare bones presentation. While the tease remains the same, the focus has now shifted to the titillating lyrical content as well as the band’s stellar musicianship. To be entirely honest, if you fell for Lzzy and co. thanks to the original, the reimagined version is not apt to become your favorite re-envisioning on this EP, but that’s clearly not the point. Much like all of the other tracks, it displays the band’s improved musicianship and Hale’s honed vocal chops as the spirited frontwoman gives a truly exceptional performance on Version 2.0.

A ferocious rocker in its original incarnation on The Strange Case Of…, “I Miss the Misery” is presented in a quasi-acoustic rendition that, much like its predecessor, shows the evolution of the band, sonically speaking. And while the more nuanced presentation tames the grit, Hale still manages to showcase her inner Rock-n-Roll diva. Appropriately, this semi-acoustic format continues into the anthemic rocker “I Am the Fire,” which sees the vocalist abandoning herself to emotion and delivering an absolutely wild performance of the self-empowering favorite.

A track that was always a powerfully moving ballad that showed the tender side of Halestorm, “Break In” now features Evanescence’s incomparable Amy Lee. Still a piano and vocal led ballad, the track sees a matured Hale dueting with the other vocal powerhouse to provide a lofty twist on the beloved favorite, one that delivers a theme of unity. A comparable offering to the gorgeous original, the revitalization of “Break In” is guaranteed to deliver an even higher body count to the Halestorm fandom.

Next, while it has been a staple in the band’s live set for some time now, Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”—which was further popularized in 1992 by Whitney Houston—finally receives its due on a record. Picking up where “Break In” left off, Hale opens with an outstanding a cappella performance before piano steps in to delicately back her up. A beautifully orchestrated moment on the EP, one can’t help but wonder how much more amazing would it have been if they had Parton along for the ride?

Big dreams aside, they close out their latest offering with the 2012 rocker that has become synonymous with good girls gone bad and Halestorm, “Mz. Hyde.” Much like the bulk of the EP, the verses are stripped down, but Hale manages to sound quite similar to the original. That is until the pre-chorus kicks in and she goes balls out for the sultry, horror Rock show. Like this, Halestorm go out with a kick to the crotch worthy of their bold sound.

Simply put, much of the Reimagined EP reads like Halestorm hanging out in a room, enjoying one another’s company, reminiscing, and jamming out. Stripping down some of their classic tracks and having a good time despite the state of our world in 2020, they offer fans a respite from the doldrums of the strangest summer in decades. Displaying their sonic evolution for the world to see while placing a spotlight on Hale’s perfectly imperfect vocal deliveries, they once again offer up the emotion and the grit that has made them a Grammy Award-winning Rock band. For this, Cryptic Rock gives the Reimagined EP 4.5 of 5 stars.

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