If history suggests anything, it should suggest that Halestorm are not the band for me. Actually, it suggests a lot more than that, but for the sake of this review that’s stick with it. On the surface its middle of the road radio rock and the first time I heard them that’s exactly what I thought. However, a couple of years after that first listen, I still find myself going back. Because as much as Halestorm haven’t reinvented the wheel, the wheels they are making are full of the kind of big choruses that it’s hard to reject.
Which brings us to Into the Wild Life, their newest album and one that at least in the mid-week charts was topping the pile. Whether it will go on to be number one or not is anyone’s guess, but following on from All Time Low last week, it feels like our world isn’t doing too badly right now. Sure, neither band sound like Slayer, but it’s a start.
Of course, sales aren’t everything and every person on this planet could buy a copy and it still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good album. No, what makes it a good album is good songs and with Halestorm’s history, this album should be full of them.
Which it is. Simple really. However, it’s full of a different kind of good song than you might expect. Something that comes to the fore on opener ‘Scream’. It’s a slow burner of a rock and roll track, with a fist in the air chorus. At no point does it rollick away and it’s all the better for it. ‘I Am the Fire’ continues in that theme, pushing Lzzy Hale’s vocals to the forefront and letting her show off that incredible voice. These songs feel like Halestorm establishing an identity, they’re a band who can rock out, but also have no problem taking a step back and writing the kind of epic music you just want to sing along with.
They are also a band with a very clear message. It’s okay to be you. Whether it’s Lzzy dripping with attitude and proclaiming ‘you think you know what I am, but you don’t’ on ‘Sick Individual’ or the touching ‘Dear Daughter’, a female orientated rock song, which is very much a rare breed, they are sticking to that theme. It’s nothing new for rock and roll to reach out to the misfits and tell them that they aren’t alone, it’s been happening for years, but Halestorm seem determined to make this the central message of the band and it’s one that it is very easy to get behind.
In among all of that, they still find time to ramp things up a notch, with ‘Mayhem’ being a full-blooded rock and roll track and ‘Gonna Get Mine’ having more attitude than a 1998 episode of Raw. There’s no doubt that Lzzy is the star of the show and the band seem to have realised that. She has a voice that competes with the best of them and the way she presents herself screams star. However, the rest of the band aren’t slouches. The frantic drumming that introduces ‘Sick Individual’ suggests her little brother is no bad either and the bluesy guitar that runs through ‘Amen’ is very cool. While ‘New Modern Love’ swings along with a Southern swamp feel to it.
Into the Wild Life is a band cementing their identity. Halestorm still play rock and roll that is made for American radio stations, but they now sound more like Halestorm and less like the hundreds of other bands that do that. And yea, the moaners are right, it’s nothing new and it’s definitely not heavy. However, there are a few thousand kids out there right now who are going to discover Halestorm and through them find a whole new world of music just waiting to be explored. The fact that Halestorm are introducing it to these kids with some fucking great songs, is just an added bonus.