Monday, 16 April 2012

Review: Halestorm - The Strange Case Of...

 All of the sudden, Pennsylvania's Halestorm have made a sudden ascent in the world of mainstream rock music and have decided they're going to be the biggest band in the world. It's a terrifying leap from being a band that has gotten airtime for their music every now and then to becoming what seems to be a band of pivotal importance as we know it in the world of hard rock today. And fair enough. Along with Shinedown and Black Stone Cherry, the quartet acquire the skill of crafting hard hitting rock song filled with infectious hooks and sing-along choruses but have enough extra power and sense of soul to avoid their music simply becoming American radio fodder. It's a powerful skill to have as a rock band, and on their second release, The Strange Case Of... the group have it nailed to a tee.

 As heard on February's Hello It's Mz. Hyde EP, Halestorm are allowing their twisted aggression and sense of desire and passion for playing rock n' roll be the driving force on this album as the magnificent Love Bites (So Do I) opens up proceedings on this album. Driven by a pummeling force of jagged riffs fueled by energy and testosterone, it sets the tone for an album of grimy and sultry hard rock.
 However, the band deliver more than just speedy rock music and the performance of tracks like Mz. Hyde and Rock Show have a much greater sense of atmospheric depth gleaming across the performances making them even more captivating as the textured lead guitar skill of Joe Hottinger remain bedazzling and captivating.
 More captivating throughout the album is the incredible and adaptable performance of frontwoman Lzzy Hale. Indeed, it seems a cliche now for female fronted rock bands to have their frontwoman totally analysed and dissected with not much room to consider other band members, however, in the case of Lzzy Hale, such a thing must be done. Her voice is perfect for the range of songs across the album changing from a twisted and deranged rocker performance on the likes of I Miss the Misery and Daughters of Darkness to having the sense of wild insanity elevated to more epic gothic levels for Freak Like Me. More importantly, it is in the shining ballads of The Strange Case Of... where the true beauty of Hale's vocals are revealed as Beautiful With You and Break In both manage to be captivating and touching in their emotional impact. Reading this paragraph back, I realise I was being creepily complementary. But I really couldn't think of any other way to explain the voice of Lzzy Hale. I guess I seem like a creep now.
 Really, The Strange Case Of... is hard rock perfection. Halestorm manage to nail down all the perfect ingredients to make a perfect rock hit and make it their own thing entirely. And if they do become the biggest band in the world, I will not be in protest of such a thing at all.

Halestorm's The Strange Case Of... is out now via Atlantic. The band will play at the Download Festival at Donnington Park, Derby on the 9th of June.

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