Halestorm takes fans ‘Into the Wild Life’

Tribune News Service

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

Hard-rock band Halestorm proves with its third studio album that a little mayhem never hurt anyone.

Despite a weeklong delay of its worldwide release, “Into the Wild Life” proves to be worth the wait. It brings fans a new spin on the familiar taste of poison they have come to expect from Halestorm while roping in new listeners to the band’s multifaceted sound.

The group’s second studio album, “The Strange Case Of …” released in 2012, was a showcase of the band’s versatility with sound and lyrical content. It refined the angry angst of the group’s self-titled debut with tracks like the Grammy-winning “Love Bites (So Do I)” while adding more sentimental tracks like “Here’s To Us.”

For their latest album, though, the band took a wholly different approach to their sound.

“In a lot of ways, what we ended up doing on this record was throwing away everything that made us comfortable and that made sense for us as a rock band,” lead singer Lzzy Hale told Yahoo Music. “We used a new producer, recorded in a new town, and approached the music with a new mindset.”

This new method to the group’s madness paid off. The album still contains the hard rock styling fans had been used to; but many of the tracks also include country, blues, classic rock and folk accoutrements.

Some, like Dom Larson of “The Guardian,” disagree and say that the new producer scrubbed the band clean.

“Jay Joyce’s heavy-handed production has transformed a likable hard rock band into a slick, mainstream pop act,” Larson said, “albeit one with a penchant for power chords and blazing guitar solos.”

When comparing “The Strange Case Of …” and “Into the Wild Life,” the main juxtaposition lies in the makeup of the albums. While Halestorm’s sophomore effort contained far more memorable and heart-pumping metal tracks, the newest effort contains a more consistent and varied array of tracks.

Needless to say, “Into the Wild Life” is the band’s most daring musical venture yet.

The band’s third album does a great job of showcasing the group’s individual talents. Arejay Hale does a fantastic job holding up the rhythm section while sister Lzzy commands the vocals and guitar melodies alongside Joe Hattinger.

However, the album shines most in showcasing Lzzy’s talent as a singer. No matter the track, she was able to get her voice to just the right timbre and tone to make it work.

“Hale’s commanding presence gives Halestorm a unique status in hard rock’s relentlessly male world,” Maura Johnson of “The Boston Globe” said.

That is not to say that the album is perfect by any means. Much like the last album, there were a couple of strange cases of tonal shifts between songs. “Into the Wild Life” has two instances of awkward transitions from high motor tracks to softer, sentimental sounds.

The two sentimental tracks (“Dear Daughter” and “What Sober Couldn’t Say”) are not bad tracks by any stretch. They are just not properly placed, nor do they hold up to the standard set with other tracks.

Furthermore, as mentioned before, there are no stand out tracks like those contained in “The Strange Case Of …,” the album that any new listener should start with.

That said, there are quite a few good tracks. However, the stand outs are contingent on personal preference and context.

What “Into the Wild Life” lacks in leading tracks it makes up for in a consistently good album from start to finish, the two awkward track transitions aside.

Songs of note include “Scream,” “I Am the Fire,” “Mayhem” and “Apocalyptic,” as those four have been the most critically lauded.

“Scream” and “I Am the Fire” act as a transitional tag team in the same vein as “Mz. Hyde” and “I Miss the Misery” from the previous album, ableit with a sound that trades in the metal for something akin to fighter walkout music. Both tracks work well together, though the latter is a superior track in terms of orchestration and overall build.

“Mayhem” has garnered the most critical acclaim of the songs released thus far, giving the album a song similar to what could have appeared in either of the band’s previous albums, with fast paced frantic drumming and screaming vocals throughout.

“Apocalyptic” was the first track released off the album, giving fans a taste of the sound to come. The overall content hearkened back to the band’s first self-titled album, filled with screeching riffs and highly suggestive lyrics.

“I Like It Heavy” ends musically on a crescendo of hard rock instrumentals before showcasing Lzzy Hale’s vocal prowess in an a capella ballad at the end. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely shows that Lzzy can bring it.

As a whole, “Into the Wild Life” is a great addition to Halestorm’s discography. While it may not have the next “Love Bites” or “I Miss the Misery,” it has great tracks that will keep a listener interested and not jumping to skip.

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