Review Summary: "Halestorm release a solid, albeit disjointed, record that leaves the listener clamoring for something more."
In the great sea of mediocre radio rock bands, Halestorm has always managed to keep its head above water. Despite bringing almost nothing new to the table, lead singer LZZY Hale’s aggressive, soaring vocals never fail to impress, and the group has an undeniable knack for writing relentlessly catchy, radio-friendly hard rock tunes. For this album, however, LZZY & co. decided to shake things up a bit; they were going to ditch their slick, heavily-produced hard rock sound and replace it with something more raw and personal. The band set off to Nashville to record their new record, determined to craft something to blow their previous material out of the water,
The first thing that that one might notice is that this isn’t quite the drastic change in sound that it was originally hailed as; in fact, at least half of the album would have felt right at home on any of Halestorm’s previous releases. The problem, however, is that those individual tracks are, for the most part, the most enjoyable that the album has to offer. For example, album highlight "Sick Individual" bears the same snarky, irreverent attitude that made past albums so memorable with barely
a hint of blues influence. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lead single Apocalyptic’s out-of-place country-esque instrumentation simply leaves the listener wishing the song had been recorded in the band’s usual slick hard rock style.
These criticisms are not to say that the album is in any way poor; in fact, in some aspects, it far exceeds its predecessors. First and foremost, the pacing is far less of an issue. While all three of the ballads on The Strange Case Of…
were placed back-to-back-to-back in the middle of the record, Into the Wild Life’s ballads are spread out in a sensible manner that fits well with the rest of the album. Also, while on the topic of ballads, I would argue that they are a vast improvement over those of previous releases. While “Dear Daughter” and “Bad Girls World” (awful title, by the way) are just as boring as one has come to expect from the band, both “The Reckoning” and “What Sober Couldn’t Say” are superbly executed, and serve as some of the album’s highest points. The only major issue regarding pacing is the opening track; “Scream,” despite its title, serves as an incredibly boring and tedious introduction to the album. Furthermore, “Scream” is followed by “I Am the Fire,” a typical self-empowerment anthem salvaged only by an outstanding vocal performance courtesy of Miss Hale.
The fundamental issue with this album is its reluctance to fully devote itself to any style; as a result, it comes across as noticeably jumbled and inconsistent. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with switching things up, it becomes a problem when a band is attempting to do two different things at once to the point in which neither is fully realized. While there are solid tracks that sound like your average hard rock song, there are also a few quality country or blues-influenced ones. It’s just a pity that the band opted not to fully devote themselves to one style of music; one is left with the impression that they wanted to experiment and break out of their “radio rock” mold, but were afraid to lose their past audience by taking the jump. As a result, Halestorm release a solid, albeit disjointed, record that leaves the listener clamoring for something more.
Make no mistake; Halestorm is a band more than capable of releasing a superb album.
This, despite a few flashes of brilliance, is not that album.