Record Review of Vicious | Halestorm | Atlantic Records
A Vicious Victory for Halestorm By: Cherri Bird
Alright my Lovelies, July 27th, the record Vicious dropped down from the ether that is the epitome of what an epic release is, in every sense of the word. The band is none other than the vivacious foursome from Halestorm drops Vicious via Atlantic Records. I'm going to tell you straight up that prior to Rocklahoma, I had only been aware of Halestorm from their radio presence here in Dallas, and well, for those of you that know, that's not saying much really. Our rock stations - or should I say rock station, still plays music from 25 years ago like it was yesterday's hit. No offense.
Seeing the band live at Rocklahoma 2018 sparked a curiosity though that didn't die out after leaving the gates this past Memorial Day. When Spotify's Rock Hard Station added "Uncomfortable" to the playlist, I immediately became obsessed with this song and if you could actually repeat freakin' songs on that streaming piece of technology, I bet I could have racked up a week's worth of Starbucks drinks for Ms. Hale.
Lzzy Hale on stage at Rocklahoma 2018
When the opportunity came about to review Vicious, I looked forward to hearing more from the band and if they pulled off any more songs that had those elements that blew me away like in "Uncomfortable".
Boy howdy, Halestorm might not have been on my radar then but let's be fucking really crystal clear here, they are now.
Here's my review, track by track of Vicious:
BLACK VULTURES - from the jump, the first track heeds a warning to listeners and slung an incredible amount of force through my headphones to fuse with a flag-waving, triumphant call from a mountaintop call of victory. The cadence and punch of the chorus throttled and fueled a f'ing gallant beginning to the record!
SKULLS - Wowzers! There is a sick AF sludgy riff that is the main ingredient of this magic potion. The alchemy within the bassline and vocals are forged by plunks of the guitars and drums cause an immediate reaction in the middle of the song. Somebody, stab me with an epi pen! Pummelled with the drums and swing of the guitars to the bridge as I catch my breath...yes! I totally dig the hell out of those surprising key changes.
UNCOMFORTABLE - I've literally been obsessed with this song since hearing it several weeks ago on Spotify's Rock Hard Station. EEK!! There's so much about the structure of this track that doesn't make me uncomfortable at all. In fact, I'm blown away by the movement of the measures between the pounding tempo of the drums that chase you around like you were in a cartoon police chase. The chorus just slaughters every expectation you could have in a song. Lzzy comes in with a drop and carries you through this crazy free-flowing trance and just when you think the song could be finished, it's not and the chase picks up to the end of the track. Ballz!!
BUZZ - Does Lzzy's voice ever stop? Seriously, she breaks barriers within one song that most artists can't hold onto for even the strongest moments of their career. There's grit, there's hardcore emotion, genuine power, control, and the essence of a need to lose control wrapped up in this track. Josh and Joe follow up with exciting riffs and bass parts along with Arejay's intermittent pops of percussion, grant this song a solid foundation that overflows in its entirety.
DO NOT DISTURB - What a sexy little ditty. Not just the lyrics, but if you pay real close attention that bass line you hear will trot up and down your spine if you let it. Marry that with the swanky feel of the melody that feels a little bluesy in nature, but it makes more of steamy presence at the solo. I love the constant pulse of music with this song through the whole track.
CONFLICTED - Mysterious, an airy little remembrance of how it feels to allow the power of a physical want to overcome and overtake your every thought...but I like how the melody drives you to the chorus and it's there where you find the pause that either helps you decide yes or no.
KILLING OURSELVES TO LIVE - A righteous chorus that stirs up that survivalist locked arm in arm with those that walk with us in the struggles; whatever they may be. You feel the tempo and the drums while your own pulse attaches to and mimics, godammit there is glory in fighting for what you feel is right.
HEART OF NOVOCAINE - Acoustic perfection at the start of this song that pulls you through your own pool of cement, right before it dries. But it's only with the hands of Lzzy's voice that rescue you or at least get you out before you're trapped forever in that place she's thanking them for giving her. It seems so easy coming from someone else's mouth. Her revelation is gut-wrenchingly powerful and literally, I am breathing in deeply to ground myself with that raw emotion that I just heard. This is song is fucking beautiful.
PAINKILLER - Dopamine for everybody!! I mean that's what we all crave, right? The blast of guitars and the cry of the vocals within the ins and outs or the ups and downs in the vocals slays. I dig the comparison because we can use anything to kill the pain, huh?
WHITE DRESS - I love the layered harmonies in this song, but what I really love is the honesty that grinds out with that buzzing drop in the background. The flow of the song is what grabbed me, there is an intrigue in the tempo and I dig how the start/stops make the message so much clearer, at least to me. The bassline that is backed up in the right corner is killer.
VICIOUS - Here's the title track and it's a fun and bouncy song that has a darker truth to it. Now, I'm not talking about a bounce that makes you wanna pick flowers in a meadow, this bounce comes from the authority found from within. It is fueled by the rhythms of the percussion and the thwarks of the bass with an echo of an emotional scorn turned to zeal.
THE SILENCE - F me! This isn't just a ballad or a slower track to fill up time on a record. This isn't a song that is complacently included for any other reason than it is supposed to be here. In fact, this track could be the whole reason Vicious was written. Whatever time she's singing about and the person that was in this space, made an impact and not just to Lzzy - but their impact on her overflows to the thousands of listener's and their Silences; whoever they may be. Wait for the last 30 or so seconds of this song - it will change you if only for a little bit, it will allow some softness into those places that are hardly ever touched by anything, let alone an emotion like this song evokes.
A culmination of not only the multitude of talent that exists within Halestorm but the talent that comes from their ability to tell a story with their music and attach these talents to a fan with conviction pales in comparison to so many artists today. Where Lzzy's voice reigns is in how she maneuvers it through the curiously constructed song parts like those extended choruses in "Uncomfortable" and "Heart Of Novocaine". Joe and Josh not only back up her vocal, but they play to her and with her. It's not just about pounding out the notes or holding a solid note, high or low, without waiver but it's about the band writing music that plays to these strengths. And while that may seem like something that occurs with every band - trust me, it doesn't. Vicious wins on all fronts and sets Halestorm on a very different shelf than they were on before. If you want to know what I mean, go pick up the record at all music outlets online or in store. Watch for more details on the upcoming tour with In This Moment and NewYears Day coming to your city or a city near you later this year.