Halestorm bare their teeth with Vicious

Words fae Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Coming off the back of a hit and miss album in the form of Into The Wild Life, Pennsylvanian power quarter Halestorm are back again for another round, this time with Vicious, aiming to build on their steady rise to the top of rock and roll stardom. Halestorm are a pretty simple band; they play it loud, and play it hard, producing some stunning results.

On Vicious, the album starts as it’s describe. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale screams her way into opener Black Vultures before exploding into the song. Probably one of the key components of any Halestorm album is Lzzy; the power in her voice translates through to her lyrics, which are often empowering, sentimental, or loosely alluding to fucking, something of which she is a queen of (lyrics, not fucking, the latter is unverified). Black Vultures is a good opener, it launches you into the album and grips you, which is the most important part of the album. It’s the first impression. If the first track on an album is shite, you’re not gonna sit around and wait for it to get better.

However, following after Black Vultures is Skulls, which to be honest, whilst not a bad track per se, it just doesn’t really have any impact, and if anything, that’s the problem with Vicious. Where it’s good, it’s brilliant, with all members of the band fluidly moving together to form a sonic assault. On the other side of the penny, where it isn’t brilliant, it isn’t terrible, it just struggle to keep you occupied. Is it badly played, produced or written? No, but it just doesn’t excite you. It’s just a bit “well, so what?”. It’s hard to describe, a bit shit because this is a written description of this album, but it’s not bad, or unenjoyable, you just don’t really resonate with it.

One of the tracks is hard to pin down, sonically, it’s really good, and it goes without saying that Lzzy is cracking like thunder. But, the lyrics are quite hard to pin down? Remember earlier, with the loose allusions to fucking, it’s hard to work out if Buzz is a love letter to vibrators. If it is, good, they do a lot of work and never really get much credit. And if it is, our Lzzy has played a blinder in loosely describing how fucking good a vibrator is, but could easily push it to the top of the charts, corrupting the minds of our youth, so we don’t have to. Here, look at this;

“Everybody’s keeping their little secrets // Hidden in the bottom drawer // But when it’s over there’s a terrible fever // That keeps you begging for more”

It’s absolutely about vibrators, isn’t it? Genius. Fucking genius.

The absolute filth continues through the album, moving from Buzz into Do Not Disturb, which is probably one of the high water marks on the album, from both a sonic and lyrical perspective. It’s a slow, dirty sex track. It’s hard to pin point which lyric is the sultriest, but the sonic elements of the song run over you like velvet; the song moves slowly, but it’s taking its time, it’s not rushing into anything, it’s letting you enjoy every second of it. If Lzzy sings about fucking as well as she you know, actually fucks, she should be given a gold medal in fucking. Just take a sniff of this chorus to understand the levels of sultry we’re dealing with here;

“I’m on the very top floor room 1334 // There’s a king size bed but we can do it on the floor // Turn your cellphone off, leave a sign on the door // That says “Do not disturb”

And if I were you I’ll bring your girlfriend too // Two is better than one, three is better than two // Leave a sign on the door, the whole night through // That says “Do not disturb”, “Do not disturb”
Moving on swiftly… the album is bookended pretty nicely as well; with Black Vultures as the storming opening, The Silence is the slow, acoustic finisher where the credits roll up. Whilst on point throughout the whole album, this stripped back, acoustic track really shows off Lzzy’s vocal chops the best. Again, Heart of Novocaine is a slow, acoustic track that really lets the raw power of her vocals shine through, compared to being mixed in with some dirty riffs and frantic solos.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr8hDEQoXcU]
Lead single Uncomfortable is another standout track from the album; it’s a fast, punk-ish track. It feels like Lzzy is openly taking aim at her critics, especially through the lyric “Just to make you uncomfortable”. It’s a really nice track, along with title track Vicious.
When all is said and done, Vicious is a pretty strong album with a couple of weak points, but doesn’t really detract from the overall feel of the album. Whilst it’s good to hear Lzzy be so open about her sexuality, personal struggles & writing empowering lyrics, it’d be good to hear the band tackle wider social and political issues in future releases. Vicious is an album where the band bare their teeth and their soul, coming up with some proper ear worms in the process.

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Oliver Butler

I'm sorry.

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