Halestorm’s newest record, Into the Wild Life comes three years after The Strange Case Of … ; however, after their break, they seem to have lost some of the chic pseudo-rock touch that breathed life into their work.

Into The Wild Life

B
Halestorm
Atlantic Records


Opening with “Scream,” Halestorm presents low-laying verses over a consistent drumbeat, which soars into the chorus only to fall flat as lead singer Lzzy Hale repeats a synthesized “scream.” In the same vain, “I Am the Fire” builds and builds, but once the chorus arrives it feels hollow.

About eight minutes into the album, there is finally some semblance of the Halestorm infectiousness on “Sick Individual.” The verses consist of quick, evenly delivered lines over a repeating guitar riff and parley themselves seamlessly into the chorus. This track, unlike its predecessors, doesn’t aim for a climactic chorus, and the result is the fluidity that is absent on “Scream” and “I Am the Fire.”

Even though the climactic rock chorus approach failed in the first two tracks, Halestorm perfects it in “Amen” — it’s catchy, maybe a tad unoriginal. But when a song makes you scream and bang your head, who cares if it feels like you’ve heard the lyrics before? This is the first song that makes me want to give an amen.

“Dear Daughter” marks the beginning of Into the Wild Life’s slump. If “Amen” felt familiar in the best way, “Dear Daughter” feels so in the worst way. The production fails to keep the edge of rock that normally characterizes Halestorm’s slower songs. It’s emotional, but not powerful; and, in the end, it’s boring. It just makes me think how much better Martina McBride’s “This One’s For The Girls” is. Also in the slump, “New Modern Love” sounds like the score of an uneventful western movie. “Mayhem” lures listeners in with its pre-chorus whisperings, but soon Hale is screaming and, for the first time in her discography, it feels as though she’s screaming about nothing. “Bad Girls World” is a less cohesive “Dear Daughter,” but it isn’t as upfront with its badness. The hook has some grit, but after about half the song you can’t help but think to yourself, “Is this worth my time?”

The album somehow finds its way back on “Gonna Get Mine.” This is what Into The Wild Life should be. It’s gritty, in your face and takes no prisoners. Here, the subtlety of “Mayhem” ’s pre-chorus gets a full showing in “Gonna Get Mine” ’s titillating chorus. The transition into the low-tempo “The Reckoning” is rough. Maybe “wild life” refers to the ups and downs present on the record because not after long the album’s lead single, “Apocalyptic” slams listeners down and makes them listen. From the first verse to the final beats, “Apocalyptic” is without a doubt the album’s shining star. The verses and chorus soar lyrically and intermingle perfectly with guitars and drums. The rhymes are subtle enough to avoid sounding cheesy, but prominent enough to wrap Hale’s delivery in a slickness that has been missing for most of the LP.

The record ends on one of its strongest notes — “I Like It Heavy.” The slight synth heard in the verses creates a strong contrast with the brashness of the chorus. It captures the aura of Hale and leaves listeners with one lyric: “Hallelujah motherfucker, take me to church.”

Halestorm’s experimentation on Into the Wild Life resulted in a mix of glossy rock songs, some pointless screaming and a few tracks that aren’t recognizable as Halestorm at all. Experimentation aside, Halestorm has added another handful of head-banging rock songs to their ever-evolving repertoire.

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