Vicious? Yes. Yes it is.

Finally! A new Halestorm album! I first came across Halestorm on youtube years ago when they were doing a Skid Row cover live, and that was all she wrote. They’re perfect together. Lzzy’s vocals are unapologetic, Animal’s, I mean Arejay’s, drumming is relentless, Joe’s riffs are prefect, and Josh’s bass is thumping. He also called me sweetie once but that’s another story. Actually that’s basically the whole story. No wait, there’s a PHOTO TOO: Anyway. If you don’t know Halestorm: they have 4 studio albums and 3 cover EPs. I’ve said it before and I say it again: it’s a special kind of art to do a good cover, and Halestorm has mastered it (so has Metallica and Marilyn Manson, but that’s a whole other post). Check out their version of Judas Priest’s “Dissident aggressor” and tell me I’m wrong.

If you enjoy catchy, thumpy, riffy hard rock with in-your-face vocals and rebellious lyrics, this is the stuff you need. Some of my faves from the first 3 albums are “I get off“, “Mz Hyde“, “Freak like me“, “I miss the misery“, “Daughters of darkness“, “Mayhem“, “I like it heavy“, and “Apocalyptic“. And about 20 others.

SO! The new album is called “Vicious” and is all I expected it to be, and then some. Some of it is entirely surprising, some is comfortably recognizable as the Halestorm I know and love.

Black Vultures” – Wow. That is some insanely distorted screaming. I LOVE IT. Guitars. Drums. Involuntary headbanging. Lzzy’s voice drops down, smooths out. It’s perfect. Super catchy chorus. I can listen to this on repeat all day. I did, in fact, yesterday. The breakdown around 2:40 is GROOVY and I like it so much.

Skulls” – Quiet vocals that erupts in screaming, and repeat. The parts with only vocals and drums. It’s genius. Listen to the lyrics. Feed your empty skull / Leave the tv on / Believe what you want / If you can’t see right or wrong /

Uncomfortable” – PUNKY! More involuntary headbanging. So catchy. I dare you to sit still. Unpredictable arrangement from the bridge into the chorus. I like to be surprised. And again, lyrics. I do it ’cause the whole damn worlds gone crazy / And fuck it man / This is the end /  That riff at 2:52. Chunky.

Buzz” – Aaaahh yes this is the stuff. This song reminds me of something Heart could have done. Catchy. VOCALS. I can’t sleep / I can’t think now / I can’t breathe without you touching me / Oh and they’re doing the whole Bon Jovi thing… the talk box? Yeah, that.

Do not disturb” – Rated R in all kinds of ways. Besides saying that you should pay special attention to the guitar solo at 2:40, I’m just gonna leave this headline from MetalSucks here:

Conflicted” – Not used to hearing Lzzy’s vocals like this. I love it. Chorus is groovy. So groovy.  I’m conflicted / this addiction’s got me twisted on you

Killing ourselves to live” – Wow okay so I spent hours on a transatlantic flight a few days ago with this on repeat. It’s amazing. Heartbreaking. Empowering. Gut wrenching. Thumpy, crunchy, and vicious. Probably my favorite song on this album. This could have been a Pat Benatar ballad from the 80s, but it’s a Halestorm ballad from the 10s and it’s AWESOME.

Heart of novocaine” – Oh break my heart, why don’t you. I absolutely love how Lzzy’s lazy pronunciation emphasizes the emotions in the lyrics. I dare you not to feel this song. With the acoustic guitar and all it kind of takes me back to the best but most heartbreaking parts of the 90s.

Painkiller” – YES. That guitar bend. The thumping. Teasing vocals that turn into screaming on the chorus. Almost a progressive feel. I really like he guitar work on this song. And that vocal part at 2:20? Hot.

White dress” – Classic hard rock. Catchy. Classic Lzzy lyrics. She’s really succeeded in making her lyrics relatable for women of all ages and from all walks of life, not just on this album.

Vicious” – This is AMAZING. The progression and effects make me think of Garbage, but metallized. THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING. Also a song I could have on repeat all day long.

Last on the album is “The silence“, a pretty ballad with some beautiful vocal work. Again, something that might as well could have been released in the late 80s or early 90s.


Here’s another album you need in your life

When I made my gigantic top 100 list last year, this masterpiece was not out yet. Judas Priest’s “Firepower“, the second fantastic album since Richie Faulkner joined the band. The title track gets you right from the start. Classic Priest riff with Rob’s amazing scream fading in, just like I like it (best ever example of this is after the super duper long guitar solo in “Ram it down”, better scream fade-in has never been heard). Drums tight. Rob’s vocals switch from growly and evil to classic screechy and high-pitched.

“Lightning strike” is one of those songs you just know from the start. It’s automatic headbanging and airguitar playing. It’s fast. It’s Priest. It’s awesome.

“Evil never dies” slows it down a bit. Scarier vocals and lyrics, reminds me of “Nightcrawler” (Painkiller, 1990). Then comes “Never the heroes”. More melancholy. Nice, clean bridge that crosses over in a catchy chorus.

OH, NECROMANCER! Love this song. Creepy backing vocals. “BORN OUT OF HELL, FROM THE DEPTHS OF GOMORRA”. Very scary. Rob is scary. I love it. Thumpy chorus with off-key vocals. Oh and the guitar solo. Richie is one of my favorite guitarists ever. I cannot be happier with him joining the band. Such an asset.

Anyway! “Children of the sun” is stompy and kind of weird in its progression, but once you learn it you have to love it. Also it has this pretty guitar/vocal part at 1:45 which is both haunting and sad.

Ok! Break in the thumpy metalness with “Guardians”. Short instrumental halfway through the album. Gorgeousness for my ears. Wonderful build-up that culminates in the beginning riff to “Rising from ruins”. Another melancholy song with lots of emotional input from Rob. Great riffage (yes it’s a word) that teases you through the song behind an amazing vocal arrangement. Next up is “Flame thrower”, which has a great 80’s sound. Unexpected vocal progression on the chorus (and in other places as well actually). Love it. Nice chunky guitar.

SPECTRE! I love this so much. Riffy. More scariness. It’s like having the metal god telling you a scary bedtime story. Actually, it IS that. But with guitars. Even the way he says “TERRAH!” (terror) is awesome. This also reminds me of “Nightcrawler”. Makes you look over your shoulder, while banging your head. Beautiful guitar dueling. This is a piece of ART.

Okay, now “Traitors gate”. Slow guitar intro. Makes you think this is going to be laid back. NOPE. Enter Richie. RIFFY. SO RIFFY. Powerful vocals. I can’t believe Rob still sounds like this. Live too. OUT OF THE DAAARK, INTO THE LIIIIGHT. This is so good.

“No surrender” is riffy from the start. Classic Priest sound. I could read this album as a book. Love all the lyrics on this album. This song is just clean catchy metal. Short guitar solo at 2min makes a nice break in the thumpyness.

Ooooh “Lone wolf” is an unexpectedly groovy track. “HEY! I AM THE VOICE OF YOUR ANGER”.  Yes. Yes, you are, Rob. We thank you for it. This song is aces. The groove is a nice change from the rest of the album. Excellent surprise quiet guitar/vocal part at 3:13 that gives me goosebumps and then breaks out in total guitar metalness.

Last on the album is “Sea of red”. Reminder of songs like “Blood red skies” (Ram it down, 1990) and “Before the dawn” (Hell bent for leather / Killing machine, 1978). Slow. Haunting. Sad.

Wow. I forgot how amazing this album is through and through. You can’t go wrong with this if you’re into riffy, thumpy metal with amazing vocals. These guys are geniuses. Long live the Priest.