While writing the post about Challenge #7 (the fall of rock in the mainstream) a certain image would regularly pop up in my mind. It consisted of a playfully grinning, fierce lady surrounded by three men radiating classic rock vibes from head to toe.
The image is associated with the name Halestorm – a rock-solid proof that rock is very far from being dead. A band which has been putting out incredible music for fifteen years not only keeping rock music and spirit alive but making powerful statements and coming back more determined after each record.
Whoever says rock is dead play them some Halestrom and they will take it back
Halestorm has been making noise for quite some time now emerging stronger and more confident with each release. The hard rock formation, whose origin can be traced back to 1997 when it was just a family-based band, has the untamed true rock energy which could be felt back in the Golden Years of rock music.
Electrifying energy-filled guitars, aggressive drums, sharp skin-piercing vocals – check. Lyrics uniting personal stories and topics with diverse range – check.
You can find Halestorm songs which are heartfelt love ballads (The Silence, In Your Room), empowering odes to those who feel unaccepted and cast out because they are different (Dear Daughter, Freak Like Me), declarations for coming back strong after a rough period of time (Vicious, I Am Fire), embracing sexuality and defying taboo topics (Do Not Disturb, I Get Off). There is nothing missing to make them one of the most relevant hard rock acts around.
I have said it before and I will say it again – being able to preserve something classic from the past and make it sound modern and appealing to new generations is impressive. And Halestorm are masters of doing this with hard rock music.
Lzzy’s vocals are like tattooing needles piercing your brain and her words of wisdom or playful stories about the crazy wild rockstar life simply have to stick with you for a while.
The frontwoman of Halestorm is well-known in the music community for being a symbol and strong contributor of making rock a safe place for women. Gender inequality when it comes to music (and anything else really) in 2019 is simply ridiculous but sadly still circulating around and the efforts of Lzzy Hale are not unnoticed. She has been inspiring girls and women to follow their paths and not give in to discrimination of any kind.
Lzzy is an amazing artist and I think that energy is much needed in rock & roll, be it male or female. To me, greatness is what always resonates.
Wonderful fanmade video by John Thornburgh
Another one of the things I highly admire about the band is that they don’t see the need to maintain a stage persona or a specific image. They go all out in the spur of the moment and do what they feel like doing. This results in a diverse repertoire of songs covering vast areas, sounds, and moods while showing different sides of the band’s personality.
The case with 2018’s Vicious is no different – recorded as a means of clearing out their minds and making loud and clear statements the band managed to produce one of their heaviest and best albums yet.
There’s this misconception that as you have all this success, it gets easier. For me, it got harder. I started paying way too much attention to making everybody happy.
Vicious is powerful, fresh, and filled with diverse songs and topics. The two things that cannot slip away are the thundering rock energy surrounding each and every song and the equality powerful emotions Lzzy sings with.
One of the themes extensively explored during Vicious is coping with a hostile mind state.
At the very start of the album, Black Vultures uses behemoth level screams to introduce the struggles of pressure and expectations. This shapes the core of Vicious as an album in a way.
While approaching the creation of the record the band had to overcome the doubt and fear of disappointing the fanbase (as if this ever happened). An unavoidable phenomenon most band come face to face with sooner or later.
I am happy to say Halestorm used those negative sensations to their advantage and transformed them into a powerful statement and determined claim of ground especially encapsulated in the 11th track – Vicious. It holds the essence of Halestorm in an earth-shattering way united under the sounds of stunning hard rock instrumentals and sharp vocals.
The troubling thoughts and fears are further explored in songs like Killing Ourselves To Live. A very powerful ode-like track lets us peek into the scary thoughts of the band regarding their messages being forgotten and their image blurred by time.
The song turns into a strong statement about keeping your legacy alive regardless of the unavoidable possibility of it being lost and pays tribute to everyone staying true to their beliefs.
A similar theme and vibe are coming from several other songs as well including track number two – Skulls. It features rap-rock elements and fast-paced verses displaying Lzzy’s incredible vocal abilities full-power. The song talks about the typical for modern days brainwashing and tendencies to run away or ignore problems instead of facing them – a slightly aggressive but super relevant song.
Uncomfortable and White Dress are two of the most empowering songs on the record. The first one is hyper-energetic, fast-paced, and radiates Lzzy Hale‘s values – empowering women, confronting taboos, breaking stereotypes, and making a statement.
It picks up the issues of gender inequality in rock music as well as what is accepted to be talked about and what is “uncomfortable”. Needless to say, Halestorm are all about breaking the status quo.
White Dress picks up the energy and overall themes of Uncomfortable it has a more personal tone and direction.
The song is an inspiring one about accepting yourself and staying true to your nature regardless of any objections and oppressions. Lzzy’s powerful voice once again defies all stereotypes associated with the image of a woman and encourages listeners (regardless of gender) to follow their own paths.
Heartfelt ballads dedicated to love are not an exception form this album as well. Heart of Novocain is a super-powerful tribute to the ups and downs of love including the pain and following growth.
The Silence follows the formula and unveils a soft, heartfelt, nostalgic throwback love journey dwelling on memories. It concludes beautifully with the moral that strong love lasts forever and you give a piece of yourself to a person you truly fall for.
Buzz, on the other hand, focuses on the electrifying effects and positive sensations of love and romance.
Painkiller is another song dedicated to the incredible emotion which tells a story from the point of view of an addict needeing the love of his/her partner. Extremely effective and even sexual at times the song is very illustrative and uplifting.
After going through love’s highs and lows Halestorm make the trademarked move and include purely sexual songs. This makes the record even more colorful and complete.
Do Not Disturb – one of the most discussed songs when Vicious was released – is one of the tracks defying “cannot be talked about” concepts. It explores Lzzy’s actual experience with a threesome in Holland where she embraced her bisexual nature and gave into the temptation of the moment.
Conflicted easily serves as a follow-up and dwells on the sexual topic while incorporating different vocal elements to create an irresistible and somehow charming atmosphere.
The Halestorm frontwoman has always been open about sexuality and the need for it to be expressed. Every album has songs featuring this part of her belief system but I think Vicious does it best.
I really think Halestorm is one of the few bands that manage to sound 150% true rock-oriented and remain relevant while increasing their fanbase and scope with each new album. Strongly reminding of the boldness and fierce energy of The Pretty Reckless, New Years Day, and In This Moment radiate – all bands led by women and contributing to making rock genderless by the way.
The band is simply making things shake to the core and their diverse repertoire of songs is a delight for any hard rock fan. Vicious is just another example of this and I am sure many more are yet to come.
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