Let’s face it dudes and dudettes, there is a serious lack of great female-fronted rock these days. Even more so, so many of them are focused on something other than just out straight up party rock, the kind of crap that gets everyone at a party or concert on their feet. In an era filled with Buckcherrys, Hinders and Rev Theorys to bring the noise to the masses, isn’t it about time the females of the world got a band fronted by one of their own to do the same thing? Look no further my estrogen-filled friends, here comes Halestorm to rock your world and blow your mind.
Front(wo)man Lzzy (not a typo) Hale wastes no time getting your attention on the self-titled debut of this Pennsylvania foursome, screaming out “I’m in love with somebody, found someone who completes me, I’m in love with somebody, and it’s not you,” right as the album opens. First track “It’s Not You” is ripe with angst and intense vocals from Miss Hale, and has a powerful raucous chorus to bring your attention straight to the jams in your ear. This song is as catchy as anything you’ll hear all year, and Halestorm is only beginning. The next song “I Get Off” is exactly the kind of dirty rock that Hinder makes their money on. The lyrics describe the experience of being watched while, ahem, doing things. It’s family friendly in that there’s no explicit language, but make no mistake, Halestorm is not writing this stuff for the kids.
Oh, did I mention that Hale’s voice is perfect for this band? It’s true, she’s got a crisp and clear voice with fantastic range, and just enough of a grungy sound to pull off the themes that Halestorm sings about, and the instrumental style of the band. Her voice is on perfect display on “Innocence,” especially towards the songs end when she raises the pitch for the chorus’ opening line for an attention grabbing hook into the song’s outro. “I’m Not An Angel” later demonstrates Hale’s vocal qualities very well also. The song is a wonderful slow down from the album’s frantic pace, and the chorus is an emotional thrill ride driven by Hale’s impassioned vocals. The chorus of “What Were You Expecting” is similarly brilliant.
Instrumentally, every other member of the band is more than capable. While Halestorm doesn’t blow your mind with crazy guitar solos, there’s a hook to every song that’s really well-written, because it’s incredibly obvious when the track changes. It’s rarely more noticeable when a song changes than on this album. Even those who find themselves spacing out frequently when listening to an album will find it hard to miss the thrilling opening screech of “What Were You Expecting” or the repetitive lead up to the insane chorus of “Love/Hate Heartbreak.” Though much of the album is driven by Hale’s vocals, she’d be nowhere if not for the well-written hooks and beats of the rest of the band, and that much needs to be stated.
Halestorm’s biggest weakness now would have to be the lyrical content of the music, or the overall length. I’ve already touched on the former, and the latter is noticeable when you listen to the CD repeatedly. The eleven tracks of the disc clock in at about 37 minutes, just over three minutes a song. Only one song (”Familiar Taste of Poison”) clocks in at over four minutes, and most are under three and a half. Every song is enjoyable, but you’ll wish they were longer, especially when songs like “Innocence” pull you in to that big final chorus and the fun is over no more than 20 or 30 seconds later. Lyrically, Halestorm is pretty much a female-fronted Hinder, so those bothered by the absurd raunchiness of that band will probably not be fond of Halestorm either.
Beyond those small faults however, Halestorm’s debut is a ridiculously catchy and fun endeavor for any listener. It’s incredibly difficult not to be drawn in by the powerful voice of Lzzy Hale, and it’s even harder to escape the well-written riffs that build each song. Even those bothered by absurd lyrics will likely get dragged in by a few of Halestorm’s songs, and enjoy them enough to be humming them for the rest of the week. In the end, you can’t ask much more out of a band than that.
9 out of 10 - Download “Innocence”
Halestorm is | Lzzy Hale - Vocals, Guitar | Joe Hottinger - Guitar | Josh Smith - Bass | Arejay Hale - Drums