Rating:
7.9
Halestorm - The Strange Case Of...
10 April 2012


01. Love Bites (So Do I)
02. Mz. Hyde
03. I Miss The Misery
04. Freak Like Me
05. Beautiful With You
06. In Your Room
07. Break In
08. Rock Show
09. Daughters Of Darkness
10. You Call Me A Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing
11. American Boys
12. Here's To Us
13. Don't Know How To Stop [Deluxe edition bonus]
14. Private Parts [feat. James Michael] [Deluxe edition bonus]
15. Hate It When You See Me Cry [Deluxe edition bonus]


Halestorm is, as the name of their sophomore album suggests, a strange case. On the one hand, they have demonstrated with singles like "It's Not You" and their raucous, thrashy cover of Skid Row's "Slave To The Grind" that they are more than capable of cranking out an exceptional mélange of respectable hard rock and heavy metal when so inclined. On the other, there is a very distinct element of radio-oriented streamlining and blatant commercialism that restricts their potential. At this stage in their career, I still consider Halestorm a guilty pleasure, and I really do not want this circumstance to persist.

While Halestorm's self-titled debut was a couple of worthy songs surrounded by generic pop ballads penned by producers and sound engineers, The Strange Case Of… sees Lzzy Hale getting lead songwriting credit on every track, and the difference is palpable. Some of these songs are still the sort of pedestrian, uninspired, three-minute, "anthem-style" cuts that conjure up images of a female-fronted Nickelback. "Beautiful With You" and "In Your Room" could have been performed by Taylor Swift or Katy Perry or whomever the kids like these days. About a third of this album sounds a few steps short of genuine.

However, the album opens very strongly, and "Love Bites (So Do I)," "Mz. Hyde," and "Daughters of Darkness" give us a glimpse into what Halestorm can accomplish. Even "Here's To Us," one of the obviously mainstream tracks, is worth the listen. With any luck, by their third album, Lzzy Hale will have completely taken over the songwriting process and continued to take the band in a darker, heavier direction. Lzzy's voice has the power and range of a true metal singer, and is clearly being held back by some mediocre material.

At their worst, Halestorm are just another pop/rock band with shades of Avril Lavigne and Orianthi. At their best, they are a fantastic hybrid of Airbourne, Joan Jett, and Alice Cooper, edging towards Znöwhite. Perhaps the best thing for them would be to foster their metal side rather than focusing on the hard rock aspects. It is on their heaviest tracks that Halestorm really shine; they are obviously wired to be a metal band, but so far have only met with mixed results. Overall, The Strange Case Of… is a very great improvement on Halestorm, and a pretty enjoyable album. Hopefully, it is a sign of even better things to come.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Halestorm
Album: The Strange Case Of...


 


written by ScreamingSteelUS | 23.11.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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lilangus - 02.09.2015 at 18:38  
Your comment reeks of the same type who used to whine when Metallica started to gain popularity when the Black album came out.
Halestorm is awesome. I agree, their first album was a bit on the poppy side, but that in no way makes them a "female fronted Nickelback."
That comment alone loses you cred.
Also, you seem to think turning metal is the only way to stay non-mainstream. You ALSO seem to think radio play is a negative thing. Here's a cold hard fact for you to sit on...whether it plays on radio or not doesn't denote whether it's good music or not and the level of heaviness ALSO doesn't denote whether it's good or not.
I'm a fan of Halestorm BECAUSE of who they are....NOT because of who I WANT them to be.
Hard Rock with a slight Metal edge is what they are and what they will always be, and I think it's awesome.
Side note: Taylor Swift would fuck up ANY of Halestorm's songs. Katy Perry has a great voice, though, and I'm willing to bet she'd make a great rock singer, if put in the right situation. Just cause her music sux doesn't mean she's bad, too lol.
ScreamingSteelUS - 03.09.2015 at 11:29  
Written by lilangus on 02.09.2015 at 18:38

Your comment reeks of the same type who used to whine when Metallica started to gain popularity when the Black album came out.
Halestorm is awesome. I agree, their first album was a bit on the poppy side, but that in no way makes them a "female fronted Nickelback."
That comment alone loses you cred.
Also, you seem to think turning metal is the only way to stay non-mainstream. You ALSO seem to think radio play is a negative thing. Here's a cold hard fact for you to sit on...whether it plays on radio or not doesn't denote whether it's good music or not and the level of heaviness ALSO doesn't denote whether it's good or not.
I'm a fan of Halestorm BECAUSE of who they are....NOT because of who I WANT them to be.
Hard Rock with a slight Metal edge is what they are and what they will always be, and I think it's awesome.
Side note: Taylor Swift would fuck up ANY of Halestorm's songs. Katy Perry has a great voice, though, and I'm willing to bet she'd make a great rock singer, if put in the right situation. Just cause her music sux doesn't mean she's bad, too lol.

This album and this review are a few years old now, but I still stand by everything I wrote.

I want Halestorm to embrace their heavier side not because I think it is the only way they can escape the bounds of the mainstream, but because I think they have shown great potential in that field and I find their heaviest material to be their best. That does not mean that all songs and bands are automatically of a higher quality the heavier they are, but I find that to be the trend with Halestorm, and I see delving further as a potential avenue for them to get better. It has been a little while already since I listened to it, but if I recall correctly, Into the Wild Life veered away from the mainstream to a greater degree and yet did not get significantly heavier; in fact, they went in an entirely different and more unique direction. They surprised me and I enjoyed it, even if it did not fulfill my wishes.

I don't believe that radio play is a negative in and of itself, even if we ignore the vastly conspiratorial string-pulling that orchestrates the airwaves, the charts, and the success of new artists, and the fact that radio is designed to reduce artists to their lowest common denominators and make them as uniform as possible. No song is automatically worse for having been broadcast or for becoming popular. Good music is good music regardless of how much radio play it receives - but if it sounds obviously tailored for that specific purpose, then I absolutely think it loses something, both in terms of basic quality and artistic integrity. To me, a lot of Halestorm's material, especially on the first album, sounds incredibly generic, stale, sterile, cliche, and contrived - just like Nickelback or Taylor Swift or Katy Perry - and that defines why "radio-friendly" is so often a pejorative term. It does not ring true.

I am a moderate fan of Halestorm because of what they are. I would not listen to this band if I only had time to impose my own will upon them and daydream of the band I want them to be, but enjoying them for what they are does not preclude me from wishing they could execute their style in a more meaningful and interesting fashion.

Since it seems that you have registered solely for the purpose of lambasting my work and are new to this site, I would like to formally welcome you to Metal Storm, where you are very welcome to write your own review of this or any album in defense of your opinion. As a staff member, however, I am the sort of person who proofreads and approves those reviews, and we do expect a certain level of maturity and civility. You clearly have very strong feelings about this album, and they would probably be better put to use in a creative fashion than in a silly comment on an old review of mine.

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