Into The Wild Life review by Halestorm

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  • Released: Apr 10, 2015
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 5.6 (34 votes)
Halestorm: Into The Wild Life
1

Sound — 6
Having grown up in a musical family and taking lessons for numerous instruments, it's no surprise that siblings Lzzy and Arejay Hale would go on to form their own band, Halestorm. This aspiration manifested fairly early for the two, and by the time they were 21 and 18, respectively, Halestorm had signed a record deal with Atlantic. Their debut self-titled album in 2009 would derive heavily from classic hard rock, inspired by the likes of Aerosmith and AC/DC, but perhaps most admirably, displayed the strong range of Lzzy's singing voice, helping Halestorm rise above the pack - Lzzy's voice would also result in her collaborating with the likes of Evanescence, Shinedown, Seether, and Lindsey Stirling. Halestorm's follow-up album, 2012's "The Strange Case Of...," took a step further into the metal energy, with stronger guitar solos and even dabbling a little bit in thrash metal, but would also counterweight that energy with more ballad songs, which flaunted the dynamic capabilities of the band, as well as the versatility of Lzzy's voice. 

Now, with their third album, "Into the Wild Life," Halestorm continue to experiment with more classic rock influences to broaden their horizons. The timeline of influences stretches even further - from the "Strawberry Fields Forever"-esque melody of "The Reckoning" to the pop rock arrangement of "New Modern Love" - but generally, Halestorm gravitate around inspirations from the '80s, while also easing back on the energy, making a big portion of the album travel in an '80s adult contemporary gear. '80s-style power ballad guitar solos work their way into the outros of the shiny alt-rock cut "Bad Girl's World" and the piano ballad "Dear Daughter," the retro grandiosity of "I Am the Fire" harks back to Bonnie Tyler, and "What Sober Couldn't Say" combines a new wave ballad akin to Spandau Ballet's "True" with Lzzy's country-style vocals. 

Halestorm's hard rock side also hovers around the '80s, echoing that of early-era Bon Jovi (in "Amen" and "Apocalyptic") and Joan Jett (in "Gonna Get Mine"), whereas the metal songs on the album feather out on the timeline - "Sick Individual" draws inspiration from Black Sabbath, and the more contemporary metal cut "Mayhem" touts the strongest guitar solo on the album, but the electronica-tinged opener "Scream" feels pretty limp in energy, especially regarding Lzzy's half-hearted chorus chant, making the track title feel like a misnomer.

Lyrics — 7
As a lyricist, Lzzy has banked heavily on the "kicking a-s, taking names" femme fatale archetype (then again, when fronting a hard rock band, who would want to be the opposite of that?), but as Halestorm's sound has started to mature, Lzzy's lyrics have followed suit. Still dealing strongly in female empowerment, her main emphasis in "Into the Wild Life" is more on constructive self-empowerment rather than playing into the endless gender tug-of-war - both "Scream" and "I Am the Fire" are fuel of encouragement to reach your goals, and though "Dear Daughter" and "Bad Girl's World" are tailored to women at face value, the messages of embracing your uniqueness and marching to the beat of your own drum that those songs wield are universally applicable.

Amid the more substantial lyrical matter shown on the album, Lzzy still manages to throw in some take-no-guff bouts of lyrics that call back to earlier Halestorm records, which are hit-or-miss at this point. The rowdy breakup sex of "Apocalyptic," the post-breakup vengeance depicted in "The Reckoning," and the kitschy love letter to rock 'n' roll in "I Like It Heavy" all feel like déjà vu from Lzzy, but she ends up threading the needle between unapologetic femme fatale and substantial message in "Gonna Get Mine," where she aims a barb at misogynist trolls that only want to see her naked ("And everybody wants to know what I got going on below"), which also earns points for tackling the issue of celebrities having nude photos of them leaked ("Naked pictures on my telephone / All my secrets that you weren't supposed to know").

Overall Impression — 6
"Into the Wild Life" has Halestorm aspiring to have their cake and eat it too, in terms of trying out new styles while also keeping a firm grasp on their hard rock sound of yesteryear, but because of the many different plates they attempt to spin, the dualism they conjure on the album is tenuous. Whereas "The Strange Case Of..." was able to play on both poles with strong metal tracks and acoustic ballads, the steps toward a more adult contemporary sound shown in "Into the Wild Life" are duly steps away from their heavier-rocking gear, and the moments when they kick into their heavy-rocking gear in this album feel contrived, containing less spirit than the hard rock tracks in their previous albums.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    vppark2
    Basic, and boring imo.
    crazysam23_Atax
    That's every Halestorm album ever. The band only got popular because of Lzzy Hale. Apparently, having a moderately good-looking woman as your singer makes you popular. WHO KNEW?!
    RockingCookie
    That may be true, but have you heard her voice? It's not just the looks, she can sing like hell. Melodic, slow ballads, and hard rock songs with a badass rasp on her voice. Not many female rock/metal singers who can perform live like she can.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Yes, which it makes it more unfortunate -- in that she is with a band that isn't that great.
    dorpzot
    Sure, it isn't anything new or groundbreaking but I like it for what it is..the girl has got a fkn great voice and she knows how to write a fun song..'I Like It Heavy' is a pretty basic rock song and it's catchy but the way she sings that chorus..dude it's just awesome!
    GenerationKILL
    Generically de-clawed rock and roll. There might be a woman with a great voice singing and fronting this band, but to me they might as well be Nickelback. Too bad Lizzy can't find a band that can reflect how unique and cool her voice sounds.
    chrisvasco23
    I don't think its the bands fault. if you look in the linear notes of the album booklet you can see who wrote what song. they are going to multiple songwriters for help. and that's fine I guess. the same thing for black stone cherry. the first album they wrote as a band, then from the third album on they have songwriters either helping or fully writing the songs. look at the track listing for the strange case of... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Strange...
    s7peterson
    I actually thought this was the best halestorm album. They stuck to their roots while having a new sound, and did it successfully in my opinion.
    mallisonlea1015
    COMPLETELY AGREE. This album is a MASTERPIECE. It took me a few months to warm up to it because I was so focused on 2009/2012 Halestorm, but every. single. song. on this album is just incredible. Lzzy can sing like NO OTHER. I've had the pleasure of seeing them live and to say that they're NOT a great band is completely baffling. They are incredible, talented, versatile musicians and I can't believe this album got such mediocre reviews. It is their best work yet and they should be incredibly proud of this.
    MusicMan24
    This album is W-E-A-K in my humble opinion. I had high hopes for this album, they could really be the biggest band in the world if they wanted to. Seriously.
    Sakke
    Aren't they kind of already? It doesn't take great songs to become great these days.. I mean.. I can listen to ABBA even though I consider myself very much a die-hard hard rock/metal fan. That's how great ABBA were.
    Second Rate
    So, the more pressing question: Did they write their own songs this time, or are they still relying on committees of industry suits to write them?
    michaeltheyoung
    Halestorm is one of the last earnest bands left in rock and roll, a group of kids from a tiny town who followed a pipe dream against all odds. And Lzzy is a spectacle, for sure, but she's not all there is to Halestorm. Arejay is an exceptional drummer and showman, and Joe Hottinger may lack flash, but he excels at coming up with melodic parts that contrast with Lzzy's big rhythms. Josh Smith is a tasteful bassist who never plays exactly what you expect. And on stage? You can tell that they have been together for nearly 2 decades; they are locked in to one another and you can feel it. An exceptional album from an exceptional band; can't wait to catch them on the road.
    guitarforce54
    I was disappointed in this album. Their first record was great, their second had some good songs. Their cover EPs are pretty great too. But this album just feels like it took the energy out of their music. I get the desire to experiment but this is just too much of a change for me. The heaviness is lacking, and it sounds like the band took a backseat to Lzzy's vocals. Arejay is a fantastic drummer, and this album highlights none of his talent. I get she's the focal point of the band, but on the past releases I never really thought they relied on her as much as some people did. On this release I can definitely see that complaint. Their live shows are good, and they tour like crazy. For that, I respect them. I hope their next album is more like their older stuff.
    Mixloopx
    Just another band that has severely gone down hill since their first album. They have consistently put out weak, generic, over produced music from the get go and relied on gimmicks to stay somewhat relevant. It still baffles me how many people cite Halestorm as one of the last "real" rock bands.
    Mainer
    Not my favorite band on the planet, but Halestorm's okay. Might give this album a listen
    rdel6915
    Here is what I have to say to all this.... first - Lizzy is a great singer... not a great female singer but a great singer and good rhythm guitarist second - the band is tight and play their own instruments live and Josh Smith is actually a very good singer and provides alot of the harmonies live ... third - Some of the greatest songs ever written were written by others... see how many Kiss songs Desmond Child co wrote... It takes village folks.... otherwise everyone would be a solo artist AJ - phenomenal drummer and a great showman - the likes of Tommie Lee... personally I felt he was the live show... Joe - he's a young and maturing guitarist... how many bands even have guitar solo's anymore - he Lizzy complement each other well and I believe they will continue to grow as a duo while having a distinctive style of their own. I Haven't heard the album but in today's environment you have to turn out new music at least once a year... try that while touring and being in your twenties.. you haven't even lived long enough to experience life never mind right about in a way everyone will appreciate or gravitate to it. So you try new things based on your current influences or whats trendy...its about staying relevant. I would say this to the Lizzy if she reads this - We all know sex sells and I applaud anyone who celebrates their own sexuality.... however it is a double edge sword, life isn't fair.... so it cuts both ways.... wear skimpy cloths, write suggestive lyrics and express your sexuality for the world to see and yes people are going to want to know you more intimately.... Price of being a front person, lyricist and to some degree a woman.... In conclusion - they are touring, have a contract a fan base, good to great music and we are hearing critiquing it.... I think that says volumes now doesn't it.... you don't like - start the perfect band, write the perfect songs yourself of course and show everyone else how its done.
    JDR3009
    The first 2 Halestorm albums were great, but with this one they've quickly proven that the only long-lasting appeal they actually have is Lzzy, and everything else is just kind of along for the ride. Lzzy's a great guitarist and singer, but if she wasn't in this band and wasn't nice to look at, they wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as they are.