It’s safe to say I am a MASSIVE fan of HALESTORM. I have been for about five years now. I don’t think I’ve seen a band work as hard as them in all my years, save for maybe SEVENDUST. This band goes out there and gives 150% onstage, night after night, and when they do go out on tour, they’re gone for years at a clip, doing their damnedest to bring their kickass brand of rock to every corner of the planet. And that, coupled with some fantastic songwriting (most notably on 2012’s The Strange Case Of…) is why they deserve every bit of success and praise that has been heaped upon them. But with that success sometimes comes pressure; the pressure to capitalize on a megahit record and do it again, to make something that the label bean-counters will like as much as the fans and keep the machine in the black.
Well, rather than try to play it safe and do what the talking heads undoubtedly advised them to, HALESTORM decided to go in and make the album THEY wanted to with Into the Wild Life, to which I say “Bravo!” Even if it isn’t the immediate grand slam home run its predecessor was most of the songs are not only very good, but also much different from what we’ve heard from this band before, which is a bold move that pays off. Sometimes opting for catchy melodies over gritty punch, and other times going balls out, like on “Mayhem”, and then finding the anthemic tune that will burrow into your brain, in this case “Amen”, the group lets the game come to them, not once sounding forced or untrue.
The thing I like most about this record though is that at the end of several songs the band just goes off on a 45-second or so jam which winds up seamlessly transitioning into the next one. For example, Lzzy Hale delivers an impassioned and uplifting anthem to the young girls of today in “Dear Daughter”, a piano-driven tune that has now become one of my favorite songs from this band. It’s a message that every girl needs to hear in a day and age where their self-worth is devalued by MTV, FUSE, and Gods-knows how many other music channels out there. But at the end of this beautiful ditty, the group embarks on the journey that takes us into “New Modern Love” which even has a bit of a latin flavor to it.This gives way to the meaty riffage of the aforementioned “Mayhem” which shows Lzzy snarling like a rabid wolf.
In stark contrast, “Bad Girl’s World” is as smooth as silk, showing yet another dimension to the group. The arrangement here is beautiful, with near flawless guitar work, particularly on the solo fade out. “Gonna Get Mine” exudes a sexy confidence, saying figuratively and literally that “I do what I want and I’m gonna get mine!”, so deal with it. Slow, dark, and evil is really the only way to describe “The Reckoning” a tale of deadly revenge served cold. It is delicious, though. Break-up sex is the theme for “Apocalyptic”, a song that people will either love or hate, I’m thinking. I dug it right from first listen because it showed me these guys aren’t resting on their laurels. The vintage organ sounds only add to the candle of pain burning brightly on “What Sober Couldn’t Say” in one of the album’s most poignant numbers.
I wasn’t sure what to make of opener “Scream” at first. It’s not a bad song at all, but initially I thought to myself, “This is not the way to start a record.” It’s funny though, by the third listen I totally got it, and found myself looking forward to it coming back around. It bleeds right into “I Am the Fire” which starts out soft before turning into quite the powerhouse. Another standout is the closer “I Like It Heavy”, Lzzy absolutely owning every inch of this track, and the band is on fucking fire! The last minute features her singing a cappella and it will raise the hairs on your arms, no question. I must have listened to this part a dozen times. Really the only song I wasn’t crazy about was “Sick Individual”, but hey, on a 13-track album, I’ll take 12 being pretty goddamn great. Wouldn’t you?
Overall, HALESTORM show once again that they are a rock n’ roll force to be reckoned with, and this record should gain them leagues of new followers while keeping the longtime fans like me very happy. Into the Wild Life comes out April 14 on Atlantic Records. I strongly suggest you go get yours then.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Dear Daughter”, “I Like It Heavy”, “Mayhem”, “I Am the Fire”, “Bad Girl’s World”, “The Reckoning”