Overall Score: 8/10 Vocals: 9/10 Riffs: 8/10 Consistency: 7/10 Pros: The most stand out tracks on a Halestorm album for ten years | Lzzy's vocals | Some BIG riffs Cons: Second half can't maintain the quality of the first
It’s been four years since the last HALESTORM album. In the time since Vicious (2018) was released, HALESTORM have risen to arena headline status here in the UK and were growing bigger than ever in the US. Then the COVID pandemic struck. From a place of fear, doubt and anger, to the point where none of them were sure if Halestorm would continue to exist, the Pennsylvania quartet have crafted the very aptly titled Back From The Dead.
The album kicks off with the title track. Perfect to be the comeback single; the riffs are big, the bass is thumping, the vocal hooks are bigger, and the chorus is massive. It ticks all the boxes for a HALESTORM album opener. Wicked Ways takes things up another level with Joe Hottinger and Lzzy Hale trading riffs over machine gun like drumming from Arejay Hale and a simple yet very effective breakdown. Stranger Things has a similar vibe to Skulls from previous album Vicious, though it is far superior, with another excellent chorus. The album’s second single, The Steeple, is a roaring, bombastic jaunt of a song and everything that hard rock should feel like in 2022. Audiences are going to bellow that chorus back at the band wherever they play it, although they may have trouble keeping up with Lzzy by the second or third round of it, such is the force of the delivery.
On an album where HALESTORM have made a conscious effort to increase the intensity and heaviness with some of the album, the softer moments pack a greater impact, and are used to great effect. Terrible Things has one of the best vocal melodies in the entire HALESTORM back catalogue, Lzzy managing to pack a huge range of emotions in her performance across the song. The song rounds off the first half of the album in superb fashion.
The excellent level achieved so far unfortunately doesn’t quite hold up across the second half of the album. Tracks like My Redemption and Psycho Crazy feel a little more forced compared to some of the earlier songs, but they don’t disrupt the flow too much. Raise Your Horns, much like The Silence on Vicious, is a perfect album closer. While Lzzy doesn’t quite stretch herself in the way she does on The Silence, she doesn’t need to. Depending on the listener’s personal experience over the last couple of years, Raise Your Horns is likely to give different messages to different people. It’s a brilliantly crafted song from a lyrical perspective, with a wonderfully building performance to with it.
Back From The Dead does an awful lot right. At 11 tracks and 38 minutes, it doesn’t out stay its welcome, and every song has a purpose. Ten years ago, HALESTORM released an almost perfect album in the shape of The Strange Case Of (2012) which is a modern rock classic. Every album they have released since will all be measured against it. Back From The Dead doesn’t quite reach the same soaring heights as The Strange Case Of, but it is by far the best album they have released since. Far from sounding like they are just back from the dead, on the strength of this album HALESTORM are here to stay, and will play to ever growing audiences because of it.
Back From The Dead is available now via Atlantic Records.
For more information on HALESTORM, like their official page on Facebook.