HALESTORM – INTO THE WILD LIFE
HALESTORM have earned a name in the scene with a fresh and personal sound since their self-titled debut in 2009. The pensilvanians came in as a whirldwind, presenting a bold rock sound in which one can find influences from heavy metal to genres so varied as soul, blues or even pop. The band has basically done what they felt right without caring too much of fans possible reactions. That way “The Strange Case Of…” saw the light in 2012 putting the band in top of the chart and earning them a Grammy in 2013 thanks to hits such as “I Miss The Misery”, “Love Bites (So Do I)”, “Mz. Hyde” or “Here’s To Us”.
Since then the band, with vocalist Lzzy Hale on front, have kept the hard work touring extensively, making a name the old fashion way. HALESTORM earned their status through energetic live shows, tons of actitude and quality music, that also happend to be extremely addictive. “The Strange Case Of…” success may have made many think the next record would follow the safe path – it’s well know the importance of a third record, being historically recognized as the one to definetely establish a band. But the band opted to do something that have always define them: follow their instinct without caring. And that is how “Into The Wild Life”, their new album, comes to us, with release date set on April 10th for Europe, April 13th for UK and April 14th and 15th for American and Japan respectively.
Lzzy Hale recently declared to Yahoo Music the band’s thought that they should abandon everything that make them feel comfortable and be more themselves than ever and, undoubtedly, that’s exactly what they did with this record. “Into The Wild Life” is a strong album that offers a wide musical spectrum from heavy metal to pop-rock that surely won’t be free of controversy among fans. Even though, wether you like the whole thing or not, this new HALESTORM production (containing up to 15 tracks in it’s deluxe edition) has at least a song for everyone out there.
The album starts with “Scream”, a strong song with a catchy chorus and a live-oriented sound. Heavy and addictive riffs and the strong voice of Lzzy mark a really nice track to open this record, with quite a hard rock approach that will most certainly be present in every upcoming show for the band. Inmediatly after we find “I Am The Fire”, a new hard rocker with quite a single feeling in it and probably one of the best chorus of the album. It’s probably safe to say it’s sound is the closer we get to “The Strange Case Of…” in this album and it works perfectly, making us wanting to keep listening.
After a drum intro we found ourselves into “Sick Individual”, with a Dio era BLACK SABBATH influence in it’s beggining that changes soon enough to a more melodic, rock sound with a heavy instrumentation and energetic vocals perfectly fitting the agressive lyrics. The guitar work here is exceptional and the mix of energy and some southern feeling in the guitar solo makes this one of my favourite compositions in this album and a winning horse for live action.
To this poing the album, even if it differed a little form “The Strange Case Of…”, didn’t offered anything out of the ordinary or unexpected. “Amen” comes to change that offering a rather blues rock with a soul touch sound, achieving a very colored tune that might require a few listenings to get every detail right (I strongly recommend headphones on for this track, the guitar backwork is definetely the best part here). Not one of my personal favourites but it has strengh and a nice guitar solo, making it quite entertaining.
“Dear Daughter” comes unexpected, introducing itself as a melodic and calmed ballad in which Lzzy Hale sings a mother’s letter to her daughter in a very touchy performance, with the company of the piano and quite a different instrumentation compared to what we’ve seen before in this album, using some samples to create a feeling somehow in between blues and soul. There’s strengh in the chorus and I have no doubt it will be present in the band’s future shows. “Dear Daughter”’s calm (ended with a PINK FLOYD influenced guitar part) leaves us in the arms of “New Modern Love”, a much more contemporary sounding track offering some lightly funk influences over a general elegant rock-pop sound with blues guitars. It’s one of the most “different” songs in HALESTORM catalogue, widely different from what we’ve seen in their previous records and it would probably be one the tracks that their more rock-oriented fans will enjoy the less. However it has a good guitar solo that win it some extra points.
“Mayhem” kicks the door down, introducing itself as undoubtedly the heaviest track in the album, with a clear metal approach, mainly during the chorus. The energy in the voice and the strong guitar work make this song a total blast, even compelling the listener to headbang. It is followed by “Bad Girls World”, the most ambitius composition in the album, going over the five minutes mark. It’s a mid tempo song that embrace the more melodic sound, with very clear blues and pop influences; a song that, being objective, is composition-wise interesting and offers a clever mix of blues, pop and rock with a Rihanna inspired chorus and a classic country-blues guitar work, on top of which we can hear electronic samples and a soft percussion. Personally it might be one of my least favourites (saving the guitar work) but one must admit that the band’s work here will most likely satisfy their more melodic fans.
“Gonna Get Mine” is a simple and direct track, keeping the pop-rock influences in it’s chorus, with a stronger and more rock oriented general feeling to it. Hearing the strengh and agressiveness of the vocals during the verses there’s no dought that frontwoman Lzzy Hale is the star of the show, but Joe Hottinger’s guitar work in this album is astonishing.
“The Reckoning” starts softly, almost mid-tempo, with Lzzy over a smooth piano base, gaining strengh in the chorus. It has a clean instrumentation that keeps those pop influences in a very well writen and addictive song, highlightning the strengh in Lzzy’s vocals. From some time on it looks like the “pop” or even “pop-rock” label has adquire some short of “bad” equivalence, like if everything remotedly related to this gengres was not going to be good enought. Luckily songs like “The Reckoning” remind us that quality music does not depend on a gengre label – it has been a while since I’ve enjoyed a pop-like song so much.
“Apocalyptic” was cosen as the first single for this album and it takes us directly back to the hard rock field that HALESTORM have make a trademark. Powerful and with an unmistakeble american feeling, it’s almost sure we will see this song played live. “What Sober Couldn’t Say” comes next as a second ballad for this album, with a very poppy chorus and a very intimate and relaxed feeling. Personally a like “Dear Daughter” far better. Even though during the first few listenings “What Sober Couldn’t Say” left me a good impression, it soon was reduced to a heartfelt guitar solo and a good lyric.
With the rocker “I Like It Heavy” we reach the end of the Standard edition tracklisting, closing this album with a classic rock sound with some extra power on the guitars and a vocal demonstration by Lzzy Hale. Very addictive, there’s little doubt we will see this live.
The deluxe edition of this album presents two bonus tracks. First one is entitled “Jump The Gun” and it’s another classick rocker. The second is called “Unapologetic” and I think it could be described as a mix between “Scream” and “The Reckoning”, achieving a quite accesible and strong sound, with a powerful chorus and some NICKLEBACK influenced guitars. Sincerly, I have this as one of the best songs in the album: I’m trully surprised it didn’t make it into the standard tracklisting.
Summarizing, HALESTORM are back with a very personal and mature album, in which the band tries to stay out of it’s comfortzone, offering a quite varied album able to reach a wider range of fans while keeping the band true to themselves. This kind of records always come with some dose of controversy but, even though there are two or three songs I don’t entirely like, I think the band made a very good heir for “The Strange Case Of…”.
02.- I Am the Fire
03.- Sick Individual
05.- Dear Daughter
06.- New Modern Love
08.- Bad Girls World
09.- Gonna Get Mine
10.- The Reckoning
12.- What Sober Couldn’t Say
13.- I Like It Heavy
14.- Jump the Gun
Lzzy Hale – Voz, Guitarra
Joe Hottinger – Guitarra
Josh Smith – Bajo
Arejay Hale – Batería, Percusión