Halestorm – The Strange Case Of – Album Review
By Laurie Lonsdale
Pennsylvania rockers Halestorm, led by Lzzy Hale, have just released their second studio recording, The Strange Case Of…… produced by Howard Benson. Benson, who earned two Grammy nominations while producing such bands as Papa Roach, Three Days Grace, Flyleaf, Theory of a Deadman, and a plethora of other bands too lengthy to mention, was also responsible for Halestorm’s 2009 self-titled debut. Clearly he has a handle on the band’s sound; nevertheless, this time the music is edgier, with cleaner, crisper production, and the lyrical messages are undeniably empowering for women.
Though twelve tracks are featured on the offering, four were previously released on a teaser EP entitled Hello, It’s Mz Hyde, including the incredibly catchy lead single, “Love Bites (So Do I)”. Hale is said to have been inspired to write the song after chatting with a young female fan online, during which the girl lamented the loss of her first love and commented, “Love Bites”. Hale concurred, and responded with, “You can bite back”. The result is a sexually charged, gritty song in which she expands her style into include a bridge piece of almost screamo vocals, and in doing so proves she can compete with most men of the genre.
Embracing a ‘bad girl’ vibe, Hale, backed by Joe Hottinger on lead guitar, Josh Smith on bass, and her brother Arejay on drums, struts equally powerful lyrics on songs like “You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing”, “Mz Hyde”, and “American Boys”, all of which rock it out with the kind of 80’s metal flair that influenced the front woman’s formative years.
Nevertheless, not every song is an attitude-packed hard rocker, as the album also showcases a softer side of Hale, with an even sprinkling of mid-tempo tracks and ballads. Included among them are “In Your Room” and “Beautiful with You”, both of which offer up a light and airy pop feel, akin to something Avril Lavigne or Taylor Swift might produce. “Break In” features a prominent piano accompaniment to Hale’s heartfelt ballad, creating somewhat of a different sound for the band, and the album ends with something atypical in the form of “Here’s To Us”, an earnest track suitable for drinking and reminiscing, delivered with a subtle new country style.
All considered; the only thing strange about The Strange Case Of…… is perhaps the title. It’s a solid album, as well as being an interesting follow-up to the band’s debut. In addition to showcasing Hale’s stellar vocals, it explores new musical territory and gives the listener a dozen well-produced tracks of varied content.