Album Review: HALESTORM Vicious
Halestorm has become one of hard rock's more successful bands, and they have paid their dues to get to where they are. They have toured relentlessly over the past decade, and in between studio albums have issued numerous EPs along with a live album. Each album has done better than its predecessor. Their sophomore release, 2012's The Strange Case Of… spawned their first number one single and they won a Grammy award. 2015's Into The Wild Life had four top ten singles, including two chart-toppers and the album was their first to land in the top five of the Billboard 200 chart. This all leads to heightened expectations for Vicious, their fourth studio album.
This time around, they worked with producer Nick Raskulinecz. He has a great track record, having worked with everyone from Alice In Chains and Korn to Mastodon, Evanescence, and Ghost. This is the first full-length original Halestorm album he's produced, but he also worked with the band on last year's covers EP ReAniMate 3.0.
“Nick pushed us from 10 to 11,” Lzzy says. “He pushed us mentally and physically. There are some things on this record that I didn’t think were physically possible for both myself and my bandmates. It was really exciting to see that happen for the first time in the studio. To be able to still surprise each other like that—and to surprise yourself—is no small feat.”
The lead single from Vicious, “Uncomfortable,” has already cracked the top ten, and there are several more potential hits. Perhaps the catchiest song on the album is the ballad “Killing Myself To Live.” It's followed by “Heart Of Novocaine,” another ballad, albeit a mellower, acoustic one. When putting together track listings, most bands avoid back to back ballads, but Halestorm has done this before, with “Familiar Taste Of Poison” and “I'm Not An Angel” on their 2009 debut as well as “Beautiful With You” and “In Your Room” on The Strange Case Of…
When it comes to the lyrics, there are plenty of references to sex, drugs and rock and roll. “Do Not Disturb” is perhaps their most overtly sexual song to date, “Heart Of Novocaine” and “Painkiller” (not a Judas Priest cover) have the drug references, and of course the whole album is rock and roll. There are also uplifting and empowering messages, such as on the title track.
It's a very catchy collection of hard rock/pop metal songs. They don't stray far from the path they've blazed on previous albums, but it's a formula that has worked extremely well for them. Lzzy utilizes some different vocal patterns on tracks like “Skulls” and “Conflicted” that add some variety without straying too far from their trademark style.
Vicious is not a quantum leap, but it is a step forward for Halestorm as they continue to refine and hone their songwriting with another batch of well crafted and memorable songs. Even without many risks, there are plenty of rewards as they continue to establish themselves as one of hard rock's elite.