The crowd noise that greets Halestorm on stage is a peculiar, double-note din. From the front comes a shrill blast of youthful, unrestrained female hysteria, from further back a more experienced but no-less excited male roar. It must be a difficult balancing act, pleasing these two audiences, some drawn in by Lzzy Hale’s ‘If I can do this, then so can you’ demeanour – girl power with a Gibson – others attracted by the notion of old-fashioned, solidly-performed, good-time hard rock.
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Three albums in, it’s probably time Halestorm decided which audience they want to chase. Time to consolidate. Time for the real Halestorm to stand up. And guess what? They’ve made a pop record: Into The Wild Life is Katy Perry in metal patches and a bullet belt.
But wait! Come back! From Sweet Home Alabama to Highway To Hell to Since You’ve Been Gone, songs that lurching drunks bellow at wedding parties, away from the grizzle and the tight pants and the fancy fretwork, they’re great pop songs too. And Into The Wild Life is a brilliant pop album.
But don’t think it’s soft: as Lzzy sings on I Love It Heavy, ‘Got a ringing in my ears, getting ready to burst, screaming “Hallelujah Motherfucker, take me to church”’. It might be the last track, but it somehow sets the tone for the entire album.
This is frequently savage, righteous stuff. Sick Individual, Mayhem and Apocalyptic are all spitting, furious brutes with a modern, polished sheen. At the other end of the sonic spectrum, the plaintive Dear Daughter could nestle comfortably alongside power ballads like The Cars’ Drive or Berlin’s Take My Breath Away, while New Modern Love and Bad Girl’s World are the kind of sweltering, warm and wobbling tracks that might accompany an atmospheric, end-of-series montage on Miami Vice, and What Sober Couldn’t Say sounds like Stevie Nicks at her very best.
No matter which way you turn, the choruses are huge, uplifting, and effortlessly composed. Throughout, Lzzy Hale dominates. It’s an astonishing, tour-de-force performance, ferocious and committed and dripping with confidence.
Into The Wild Life is oddly old-fashioned yet thoroughly modern, effortlessly entertaining, and enormous fun. It’s equal parts Pat Benatar, Big & Rich, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith and Lady Gaga, and it might just do for Halestorm what Pyromania (another great pop record) did for Def Leppard. It’s a triumph, and Halestorm have arrived./o:p