Halestorm – Back From The Dead (Atlantic)
The most obvious post-pandemic album title in the world ever?
But Back From The Dead is all about resurrection, determination, perseverance and empowerment.
It would speak to — and for — a generation of rock fans regardless of the era.
And it does.
Based on the finest traditions of a genre synonymous with rebellion and rage, it’s Lzzy Hale at her compelling best.
Every note screams steely self-confidence and a refusal to conform.
Barely a line is wasted as Hale speaks to the Freak Family with familiar ferocity.
And a band reunited with Vicious producer Nick Raskulinecz pushes the envelope in search of an even meatier sound.
This is a record as polished as it’s powerful and Hale — a bulldozing wrecking ball of pent-up frustration — takes no prisoners.
Yes, there are the clichéd couplets and the predictable riffs.
But Halestorm have never been ashamed to wear their ‘dad rock’ hearts on their sleeves.
It’s why the canny Pennsylvanians continue to reel in an ever-broader demographic.
And why their first-pumping anthems are beloved of rock radio tastemakers the world over.
Hale frequently points to the Wilson sisters, Lita Ford, Joan Jett et al as inspirational role models and mentors.
And Back From The Dead leans as much on mid 80s gloss as it does 21st century bombast.
Hale is a trailblazer with one foot planted firmly in the past.
Respectful of rock’s storied history, she’s a flagbearer for the future.
Yes, Back From The Dead breathes new life into a genre ripe for reinvention.
But it’s an album layered with nods to Hale’s favourite heroines.
Look On The Brightside
Can Halestorm possibly write another song as good as The Steeple?
But right now it’s the best tune this band has ever conceived.
Perfect for their loyal fanbase and an earworm of an anthem, it ticks all the boxes.
And it brutally exposes some of the weaker material here.
Of course, weaker by Halestorm’s standards is hardly feeble.
This is a band that’s always set the bar impossibly high.
Tracks like The Steeple only serve to underline the unique songwriting talent pacing one of the most exciting bands on the planet.
But there’s bound to be some filler in amongst all of the killer.
Strange Girl is a frustratingly lame case in point.
In isolation, it just about passes for a typically self-reflective Hale lament.
However, juxtaposed with the brilliant Brightside and wonderfully dark Wicked Ways it simply doesn’t do justice to a band that can do better.
Reassuringly, there are more hits than misses on Back From The Dead.
Ballad Terrible Things takes things up a notch: Hale might be better suited to no-holds-barred, vehement vocal blasts but stripping things back suits her.
Brooding strings, a strong message (Lzzy sings ‘I see a sickness in a world on its knees’) and a retrospective mood make for a guaranteed hit.
Slow build set closer Raise Your Horns almost repeats the trick: there’s no hiding place for Hale and she rises to the challenge with another gloriously affecting vocal.
Back From The Dead is another neat lesson in light and shade, vitriol and vulnerability.
It’s thought provoking and pummelling, passionate and yet never too preachy.
Next level Lzzy Hale?
Nearly. But not quite.