If truth be known, I’d never really given Halestorm much of a chance. They were one of those bands that I’d not really consciously listened to. I had, probably subconsciously, decided that they were not for me, that they were lightweight blah blah blah: you get the idea. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. I was wrong about Halestorm and I don’t mind who knows. Into The Wild Life (Atlantic) is a boisterous, effervescent and terrific record of pounding rock songs that will have you grinning from ear to ear and punching the air in infectious delight.
This is the first Halestorm material in the best part of three years but, if you’re a long-term fan, you’ll definitely believe it’s been worth the wait. Into The Wild Life is, simply put, a cracking bunch of songs delivered with energy and gusto.
The pounding heart of Halestorm is unquestionably their lead singer and protagonist Lzzy Hale. On Into The Wild Life she turns in a performance that you need to file under “cracking”, such is her power, brio and wit. Whether she is ruminating on the joys of break up sex (on lead off album track ‘Apocalyptic’), multiple personalities (‘Mz Hyde’) or the valediction of ‘Dear Daughter’ it’s abundantly clear why this woman has become such an inspiration for rock fans across the planet.
The real reason why Into The Wild Life works is that it’s absolutely packed full of tunes. There’s an admirable lack of bombast on ‘Scream’ which makes it all the more effective, a decent pinch of Foo Fighters inspired rockolla on ‘Mayhem’, more Joan Jett than you can stick in a blackheart on ‘Gonna Get Mine’ and a chorus catchier than a winter cold on ‘Amen’.
There used to be a lazy, condescending school of rock journalism that looked at “female fronted rock bands” as if they were some kind of zoo exhibit. With the release of Into The Wild Life, Lizzy Hale hasn’t just rightly condemned this nonsense to the dustbin, she’s ground it to dust. Her delivery across the entire album is gritty, powerful and, at times, role model emancipating. Ably supported by fearsomely tight performances from Joe Hottinger on guitars and Arje Hale and Josh Smith delivering a pounding back line, Into The Wild Life suggests that Halestorm’s breakthrough to the big league has arrived, and how. Into The Wild Life is one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable records of the year.
Pretty darn fabulous.