Saturday, 2 March 2013

Halestorm "The Strange Case Of..."

Halestorm have really made a name for themselves since their 2009 debut in to the mainstream. For starters, they had a prominent spot in the first Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival in 2010 opening the main stage for such bands as Stone Sour, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed. It seemed they could only go up from there, and that they did. A certain Grammy win for “Best Hard Rock/Metal Song” should say enough. In honour of the Grammy win, it only seems right to make this review on their most recent release, The Strange Case Of..., released in April of 2012, which showed the band expand on their already tremendous sound.

It’s very hard to speak of the band without mentioning frontwoman Lzzy Hale. For those who don’t already know, this is the woman who most recently set the bar for all singers, both female AND male. Her voice can go from a belting roar down to soft beautiful, and she never misses a note in the process. It’s her roar that has been known to put many male singers so shame. I’d recommend giving their rendition on Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind a listen. It doesn’t take much to notice that she puts Sebastian Bach, the songs original singer, to shame.

The album starts out with Love Bites (So Do I), a song heavier than any off of the band’s debut album. This would be the song that won the previously mentioned Grammy. It is impossible not to instantly get in to the song, thanks to Arejay Hale’s pounding drum beat and the tough-as-nails guitar riff that follows. The following track, Mz. Hyde, is a song about what has somewhat become Lzzy’s alter ego. Just as heavy as the previous song, but with a slower pace, it is sure to get heads banging almost instantly. The album continues to release hard hit after hard hit with its next two tracks, I Miss The Misery and Freak Like Me (based on Lzzy referring to the bands fans as “freaks”)

The band doesn’t shy away from their softer side, much like their debut. This time, the band gathered three of the albums softer tracks and put them one after the other, perfectly in the middle of the album. Beautiful With You is a song very much like a song such as Bet U Wish U Had Me Back off of the first album. This track is a rather slow song, featuring a full rock bands worth of instruments, just not as distorted as the previous four songs. The song is very much a love song, based on its lyrics of the age-old story of a girl who is only truly happy when she’s by her man, just told in a very original and modern style.

In Your Room progresses the album in to an even softer level. This time an acoustic song and is very softly sung by the beautifully matured voice of Lzzy. Though a short song, it gets its point across with its lyrics, and leads the albums listener in to the next track; the piano ballad Break In. This track has become a live favourite of the band’s to play. It features only Lzzy, both on vocals and on piano. It clocks in at 4:45, which makes it the longest song on the album, but it’s very easy to get lost while listening to it, making it seem like 4:45 just isn’t enough.

The album then gets back in to business with Rock Show. It is not the heavy hard-as-nails song that the first four tracks were; it’s more of a rock opera of sorts. Getting the listener back in to hearing electric guitars and heavy drums, but with a chorus that makes the song sound like an opera, with its dramatic use of organs and vocals. The story behind the track is a slightly humbling one too. Simply put, it was written for a fan of the band, a very young girl whom Lzzy met and at a concert who told Lzzy that it was her first ever concert and it changed her for life. The impact the concert had on this girl inspired the lyrics to the song.

The album then gets right back in to heavy swing with Daughters of Darkness; a song partially inspired by the late great Ronnie James Dio and his song Fear from Black Sabbath’s The Devil You Know. Daughters In Darkness is not a fast song, but it’s a heavy one that sticks out with its intro. It starts off with a sort of tribal drum beat, and Lzzy chanting a hell of a catchy chant. It is among Lzzy’s most powerful vocal performances on the whole album. The albums next track is another heavy one, You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing.

The track American Boys, as the title would suggest, is not quite the manliest of songs on the album. It’s a very catchy tune, not so much an alternative hard rock track, but more like a 70’s blues-based hard rock song. This makes it a unique song that displays influences the band has never’s just not the kind of song a guy would like to be caught singing along with.

The album ends off with a very important song for the band. Here’s To Us is an immediate fan favourite by almost everyone who listens to the album. It is a soft song, acoustic song, not quite a ballad, but sounding like it would have been released in the 90’s when bands like Cranberries and Third Eye Blind were releasing hits. Every note Lzzy sings is a catchy one that is easily accessible to anyone, while featuring surprising explicit lyrics. The main reason for the songs importance for the band lies on its feature on the show Glee. Whether you like the show or hate it, whether you like the fact the song was featured on the show or not, it broadened the bands fan base substantially almost overnight.

Halestorm is a force that grows bigger and bigger as time goes by. They are living the dream and living it well, and the future shows only positive things for them. If you are a first time listener of the band, this album should not disappoint. It sets the genre into a field of its own, much like their debut album did. The album is also one of very VERY few albums to feature its best songs released as singles. If you read my other reviews, 9 times out of 10 you'll see that is not usually the case.

It is very important that I note this is a rare album, and first of this blog, that gets a 10 out of 10 for its diversity and recognition and respect in the rock community.


I Miss The Misery” – It takes all of 5 seconds for anyone to immediately get caught on to this track. It's almost incredible seeing the look on peoples faces as soon as Lzzy starts shouting out the inevitably addicting chant that is impossible not to fall in love with. It is among the albums heavy tracks. It features an almost sinister sound during the songs verses, with the music calming down and the vocals sounding like Lzzy is getting ready to pounce on an unsuspecting victim, only to belt out the killer chorus fit for the best of hard rock fans.


10 (Out of 10)

Track List:

"Love Bites (So Do I)"  
"Mz. Hyde"  
"I Miss the Misery"  
"Freak Like Me"  
"Beautiful with You"  
"In Your Room"  
"Break In"  
"Rock Show"  
"Daughters of Darkness"  
"You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing"  
"American Boys"  
"Here's to Us"  

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