REVIEW: Halestorm – Back from the Dead

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In the American rock scene, there are only two bands that have managed to hold my attention for the past decade – SHINEDOWN and HALESTORM. Luckily enough, both bands have new albums for us this year, with SHINEDOWN’s “Planet Zero” re-slated for a summer release and HALESTORM’s aptly titled “Back from the Dead” having already been released on May 6th, 2022, via Atlantic Records. What makes both bands stand out from the crown is the way they keep the flame of rock alive… granted, each in their own style. For now, let’s see what HALESTORM have prepared for us.

If musically “Back from the Dead” follows the band’s formula for writing rock anthems with big choruses and high-energy verses, topped by superb vocal performances and well-executed guitar work, it’s the lyrical content that elevates many of the songs. Explaining how this album came to be, Lzzy Hale stated: “Once we went into lockdown and were unable to perform and tour, I fell into a dark place and something of an identity crisis. This album is the story of me carving myself out of that abyss. It is a journey of navigating mental health, debauchery, survival, redemption, rediscovery, and still maintaining faith in humanity.” It’s never easy to write about such personal topics but sometimes it’s necessary (maybe even vital) to share them with yourself and the world. From this perspective, “Back from the Dead” is a crucial album for HALESTORM, being a testament above all to the resolve of the human spirit to prevail through dark times.

Released last year already, the title track is in itself a powerful statement of intent on behalf of the band, and Lzzy Hale belting out the line, “I’m back from the dead,” at the beginning of the record really sets the tone for the rest of the songs, highlighting what this record is supposed to be. The title in itself, “Back from the Dead,” is a metaphor for overcoming depression and the lyrics deal with this aspect in vivid images, while the riffs make it all the more memorable. This is not the only track to touch upon their struggles with the lockdown. “My Redemption” is a story of rediscovery told on top of powerful drums and solid guitar work. The vocal melodies vary throughout the song, with the chorus kicking everything into high gear. The hauntingly beautiful ballad, “Terrible Things,” offers a more vulnerable and introspective look at society over the last few years. There are some melancholy-sounding strings that accompany the acoustic guitar and frame Lzzy Hale’s gentle delivery. Second single “The Steeple” is a bouncy, uplifting track and a spiritual successor to “Back from the Dead,” presented on a backdrop of tight guitars and headbang-ish rhythms. Just in between these songs, it is easy to see the emotional spectrum that the album covers.

It wouldn’t be a HALESTORM album without some tongue-in-cheek songs. In this respect, tracks like heavy “Wicked Ways,” intense “Strange Girl,” groovy “Bombshell,” and chunky “Psycho Crazy” are perfect additions to their discography, while adding more shades of confidence and individuality to their already nonconformist persona. A big part of HALESTORM’s sound is Lzzy Hale’s rich and powerful voice, and she is not shy about showing off her range on this album: “Psycho Crazy,” “The Steeple,” and “Terrible Things” are good examples of her versatility, though “Raise Your Horns” features her best performance. The album offers plenty of variety and numerous moods during its almost 38 minutes of run time, with songs ranging from fast-paced and heavy numbers all the way to emotional and gentle tunes. A bonus point is the great flow of the music that takes the listeners on a joyride. This joyride comes to a close with album highlight “Raise Your Horns,” which is not just a callback to Lzzy’s social media movement to spotlight mental health issues, but also a celebration of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a piano-driven track that may be a bit reminiscent of “Here’s to Us” in terms of atmosphere and lyrical content, but ultimately convinces listeners through impassioned vocals and unbridled honesty.

All-in-all, “Back from the Dead” sees the band returning to the rock scene with fiery passion and brazen sincerity, showcasing once more the many reasons HALESTORM still reign supreme as one of the genre’s top representatives, as well as a force to be reckoned with. The band members are in top shape, playing to their strengths, bringing their A-game to every song, and pulling all the stops on their fifth studio effort. I think it is fair to say that “Back from the Dead” is more than just a rock album and a reason to tour, it is a rediscovery of their purpose in life, a reshaping of their values, and a way of saying that they are here to stay, come hell or high water.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  • Back From the Dead
  • Wicked Ways
  • Strange Girl
  • Brightside
  • The Steeple
  • Terrible Things
  • My Redemption
  • Bombshell
  • I Come First
  • Psycho Crazy
  • Raise Your Horns

Lineup

Lizzy Hale – Vocals & Guitar
Arejay Hale – Drums
Joe Hottinger – Guitars
Josh Smith – Bass

Label

Atlantic Records

Links

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