Female-fronted rock bands aren’t the big news they were once upon a time, but Halestorm are one of the few modern bands who have earned themselves a spot in the chauvinistic boys’ club of ’80s revival rock. They’ve always done it rather well too – there’s already a perfectly serviceable debut and a hugely acclaimed follow-up under their belts, not to mention an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist in the form of Lzzy Hale. However, rather than letting the formula get stale, on Into The Wild Life the Pennsylvanians have mixed things up, weaving in fresh influences among the traditional, making their third full-length their most diverse to date.
One thing that’s noticeable about Into The Wild Life is its fluctuation of pace. On their last album, 2012’s The Strange Case Of…, there was a clear dichotomy in the tracklist, the main body being driving hard rock with the occasional softer ballad peppered throughout. This time, there seem to be a lot more slower tunes than previously, meaning that there are far more peaks and troughs musically. This can lead to Into The Wild Life occasionally feeling very uneven. That’s not a criticism to the songs themselves – Dear Daughter is a gospel-backed piano ballad that would make for a real lighters-in-the-air moment live, and What Sober Couldn’t Say sways into view at the album’s back end with its booze-soaked but heartfelt lyrics. It’s just that when placed alongside the more full-throttle tracks on this album, they hinder any sort of ability to flow, and feel ultimately disjointed. If there’s a critique to make about actual songs though, it would have to be directed to some of these, especially New Modern Love, which never manages to bring itself out of second gear.
It’s in the proper high-octane rockers that Halestorm hit their stride. Lead single Apocalyptic drips with power and sex appeal, while closer I Like It Heavy will be a sure-fire hit on rock radio, and Mayhem is by far the heaviest track the band have penned. While the songs themselves are great, it’s Lzzy Hale’s vocals that elevate them to the next level. They have also seen various influences entwined, taking cues from – at the risk of sounding like a lazily-described compilation album – various ‘rock chicks’. Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Ann Wilson are all comparison points, as well as some less obvious references, such as Alannah Myles on the bluesy stomp of Amen. It’s this sort of versatility that earmarks her as one of the best vocalists in the game.
Still, it does very little to make up for Into The Wild Life‘s exceptional inconsistency. Nevertheless, it’s another decent collection of songs from Halestorm that should do them no harm in reaching for bigger things, as well as giving them more ammunition to break out of the confining radio rock bracket they’ve been unfairly lumped into. It may not be their best work, but it definitely warrants at least another go.
For fans of: Shinedown, AC/DC, The Pretty Reckless
Words by Luke Nuttall