Vicious is Halestorm’s fourth studio album, and trying to follow up an album that stemmed four Top 10 hits in the mainstream rock category is difficult to say the least. As expected, though, the hard rockers pulled through and made sure to top their stellar third album with a 12-track conglomerate of talent, passion, and energy. Not only was that exactly what I, personally, expected from Halestorm — the reigning champions of mainstream, modern rock music — but it was exactly what frontwoman and lead singer Lzzy Hale said it was going to be like. I generally don’t take an artist’s perspective of their work too seriously, especially when it’s about a whole, full-length piece of music, because it can (and will!) be interpreted, analyzed, and heard differently by each and every listener. But in this case, Lzzy Hale hit the nail right on the head.
When speaking to Blabbermouth back in May, Hale spoke about their then-upcoming album by stating, “In my opinion, this is gonna be the first record…And we always says this, we hope we get better as musicians as we go on, with each record. But this is gonna be the first record where you can really hear all four corners of Halestorm and what makes us a band. And if any of you have ever seen us live, I think this is the closest to what you see when you see us live. In a lot of these records that we put out, ‘Okay, we have a catchy song, and I sing on it,’ and then that’s about it. So there’s so many different layers to this record that I’m so proud to show everybody.”
As a listener and a fan, I don’t have an inkling of disagreement in me. Her description was exactly right. There are elements on this new album that I didn’t know Halestorm had in them. There are lyrical and instrumental aspects that brought this album to life as if it was live. There is a sense of truth that this album portrays better than ever before. The evolution of Halestorm is evident to fans around the world, but it is having the most positive reception. The first song on the record, “Black Vultures”, was released about a month before the record dropped and it set up for the perfect, hardened, exploratory record that is Vicious.
The first 20 seconds are Hale’s prominent and ferocious screams that settle into slick vocals that sing some of the most powerful Halestorm lyrics I’ve heard in a long time: “I don’t give in, I don’t give up/I won’t ever let it break me/I’m on fire, I’m a fighter/I’ll forever be the last one standing.” The rest of the track is as dynamic as that line is, making it a song that you will be listening to on loop and will surely be going back to; until you get to the seventh track, “Killing Ourselves to Live”. The chorus for this song is essential, making you feel as though you are in the crowd at their show, legs aching and heart racing. The strength in Hale’s vocals shine again, but this time with more grit and more growl as the song takes on an almost grunge sound. Arejay Hale knocks every song out of the park with his drumming on this song. Each drum beat swells within you; keeping time, rhythm, and passion alive in a song that is so monstrous the vital layers that make it what it is almost get lost within the sea of its own flawlessness.
Vicious closes out with an acoustic track, a ballad so raw that if you don’t get goosebumps while listening to it — well, let’s just say it is impossible for you to not get goosebumps while listening to it. It’s Fleetwood Mac meets Led Zeppelin with a dose of Halestorm’s always personal, always creative originality thrown in just for the hell of it. Titled “The Silence”, the soothing, captivating love song just proves that you can mix roaring head bangers with tear jerking ballads and not miss a single beat — at least, that is if you are Halestorm.