Praise be to all that is holy in the world of rock n’ roll, HALESTORM have returned with a new album Vicious (out now, Atlantic Records), three years and some change after 2015’s Into the Wild Life. This is a band that consistently delivers, so getting album number four in my grubby little paws was pretty exciting. Adding to said excitement was the fact that Nick Raskulinecz was producing. He’s been one of my favorites since he got the best out of RUSH a decade ago on Snakes and Arrows, so I was all in from jump.
Right away there were several tracks that not only leaped out at me, but also slapped me in the face. Guitarist/frontwoman Lzzy Hale exudes confidence and ownership on each and every one of these songs, and she also shows off a sexual confidence the likes of which we may have never seen. There is something about a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say so that has always made me an admirer, as I am of Miss Hale. The band is locked in on each and every track, drummer Arejay Hale, guitarist Joe Hottinger, and bassist Josh Smith not content to simply hold it down, but show off their chops to the world.
“Skulls” has such a cool and unique vocal delivery combined with a groove to die for that it was an immediate favorite. Leadoff single “Uncomfortable” is 50 shades of badass and in my anything but humble opinion should have been the album opener. “Buzz” is so fucking cool because of the push and pull within the song, but at the end of the day it’s a rocker, first and foremost. Now…let’s talk about “Do Not Disturb”, hmmm? Man, this one is sexy as fuck, prudes be damned. I was in love (and lust) with this one from the very first listen, and they sure as shit better do it live on tour. It’s got a sensual groove and a clothes-shedding guitar solo, so yeah.
On an emotional level “Heart of Novocaine” is supremely powerful, while “Killing Ourselves to Live” manages to show raw nerve and anthemic hooks all at the same time. “Painkiller” has a sick riff and a super-sexy vibe. Lzzy is not shy about discussing sex on this record, nor should she be. She is an adult woman with the same healthy appetites we all have. “Conflicted” is proof positive of that, and quite frankly it’s pretty hot. Meanwhile “White Dress” is a not-so-subtle middle finger to the idea that girls/women should just be happy to accept their role in the patriarchy. FUCK. THAT.
Title track “Vicious” glides along nicely, and the hook is pretty fierce. But, the most powerful track on this whole record is undeniably “The Silence.” I have listened to this song over and over since the album released, and it is fucking beautiful; that’s all there is to it. Just listen, you’ll get it. By the way, this one is in the running for Maestro’s Song of the Year, not that anyone cares. So, here’s the deal: HALESTORM deliver once again with Vicious. It is without question their best album since The Strange Case Of… And I cannot wait to see them do these songs live!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Silence”, “Do Not Disturb”, “Skulls”, “Uncomfortable”, “Killing Ourselves to Live”, “White Dress”