Sunday, April 08, 2012

Halestorm-The Strange Case Of…

Atlantic Records (US)/Roadrunner Records (UK)

When the sophomore release from Pennsylvania hard rock outfit Halestorm came my way I didn't plan to review it. Like every other person in the world I heard their first single, “I Get Off”, and wasn't overly impressed. Without spending too much time on the subject I wrote them off as another post-grunge/hard rock/radio rock band. How many does the world really need? From the album art I thought this one would be lame. Maybe just maybe I'll have to pick up the band's debut CD after all just to see if it is any good. "The Strange Case Of..." album title is a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Interesting for sure if one takes a look at this album as a whole. Siblings Arejay and Elizabeth "Lzzy" Hale (drums and vocals/guitars/keyboards respectively) are the main driving force behind Halestorm. Or rather they seem to be the mad scientists credited to this genre jumping affair. Now I like Lzzy Hale's voice. She has appeared on Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry and Adrenaline Mob's albums. I especially liked her on Adrenaline Mob's cover of "Come Undone" by Duran Duran. This woman can sing and on Halestorm's sophomore release she covers a lot of ground from the Skid Row inspired “Love Bites (So Do I)” to the country rocker "Here's To Us". Speaking of "Here's To Us" the track was on the sneak peak EP "Hello, It's Mz Hyde" and was covered by Glee (I know because I have a 13 year old daughter). Speaking of all things country/southern rock we have the track “American Boys”. Not quite my thing but thankfully the tracks “Mz. Hyde” and “I Miss The Misery” are both modern hard rock tracks and make up for some of the album's schizophrenic moments. “Freak Like Me” is a nasty slab of hard rock while we have the softer “Beautiful With You”. Again we see Lzzy stretch her vocals to fit both extremes remarkably well. “In Your Room” is aimed at teenagers as is "You Call Me A Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing" although they are at opposite sides of the spectrum. Special mention should be made of lead guitarist Joe Hottinger who has to cover all of this ground for Lzzy. He manages to make the softer tracks work quite well while truly shinning on the heavier tracks like arena rocker “Daughters Of Darkness”. Bassist Josh Smith sadly gets lost in the mix far too often though. Even though I knew there was bass on some of these tracks I really had to look hard to find it. As I wrap this review up I can't help but think that album number two is going to make Halestorm the next big thing. The songs have hooks to kill for and larger than life choruses. Lzzy's looks obviously helped get them some attention in the first place. The thing is she can sing and good looks will only get you so far of course. I would like to be honest and say how much I'd like to see the band move more towards a Sister Sin sound. I'd be lying of course to believe that would ever happen as Halestorm are more about mainstream success than truly hard hitting rock. Perhaps a better balance can be found down the line as the hard rock numbers I enjoyed immensely while the softer tracks just overwhelmed the whole affair.

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