Spin #14 : Halestorm : Vicious
Band Members: Lzzy Hale (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer), Arejay Hale (Drums, Vocals), Joe Hottinger (Lead Guitar, vocals, synths) and Josh Smith (Bass Guitar, piano)
Halestorm : Vicious Year Released : 2018 Produced by Nick Raskulinecz Label: Atlantic Records Price Range: $50AUD+ Speed: 45 RPM Album Before : Into The Wild Life (2015) Album After : Back From The Dead (2022) out May 6th! Further Listening : Death By Rock And Roll - The Pretty Reckless LP : 2 x Black LP Mood for enjoying: Really strong vocals and catchy hooks make this one an easy pump up album! I've caught myself singing along to this one quite a bit whether its doing chores or getting some work done - very motivating album Track Listing:
LP1 Side A
Black Vultures - 4:10
Skulls - 3:19
Uncomfortable - 3:40
Buzz - 3:22
Side B Do Not Disturb - 3:23
Conflicted - 3:29
Killing Ourselves To Live - 4:00
Heart Of Novocaine - 3:33
Painkiller - 3:13
White Dress - 3:29
Vicious - 3:01
The Silence - 4:47
Now That You're Gone - 2:51
Nobody - 4:12
Golden - 4:13
Letters - 5:19
What's in the Sleeve ? 2 x LP Gatefold with lyrics written on the record sleeves in a sort of spiral that makes you keep rotating the insert as you follow along. Photos of the band on either side of the gatefold in black and white.
"Thank you for the pain, thank you for the hate, thank you for the way that you left me scarred. Thank you for the stain that you left on my brain. Now because of you I've got a heart of Novocaine" ~ Heart Of Novocaine - Side B
Welcome to Spin #14 - Halestorm : Vicious
Who out there is feeling Vicious? Well you don't have to be feeling angry or ready to attack in order to listen to our Spin #14 from Pennsylvania, United States - it's 'Vicious' by 'Halestorm'. Lots of love for this album in so many ways - vocals, lyrics, musicianship, production - it's awesome.
I went to see 'Halestorm' play live at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, back in December 2019. Wow! The acoustics in that place are great and 'Halestorm' clearly have a method that works for their live shows. The vocal range of Lzzy Hale absolutely destroyed my hearing for at least a week. I'm not mad at all because the concert was so memorable, just if I see them again I will be bringing ear plugs. Arejay Hale played the drums with oversized drumsticks and at first I thought there is no way he will be able to play anything with those things....how wrong I was. If you get a chance to see them play live, don't think, do!
For this set up I've used the Sherwood turntable with 4 x Sherwood bookshelf speakers spread across the length of our loungeroom. I've also used the headphones on this spin for some of the songs because it was getting too late in the night and our little ones were tucked up in bed. Our 3 year old loved hip moving and grooving to this one (of what he heard before bed).
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
I was so thankful to 'Popcultcha' in Geelong who were holding onto one copy of 'Vicious'. It's very difficult to get any 'Halestorm' records in Australia for some reason. Very popular and their passionate fanbase swarm all over anything released by Lzzy and the band. Check out their store here as they threw in a logo slipmat along with the record - thank you!
As I take the record out of the gatefold sleeve I notice the weight and quality of the product. I did the miss the fineprint on the sticker saying its a 45 rpm and first time playing through the headphones I got creeped out with Lzzy singing super slow motion, "Blaaaaaaaccccck Vuuuuuuuultures Ciiiircling theeeeee Skkkyy" at 33 1/3rpm. Of course it was late at night and dark too which didn't help. If you like to get extremely creeped out or play a trick on someone then you will need to try this.
This time, the first song is played at the correct speed of 45rpm and is called 'Black Vultures'. The distortion and fade in of Lzzy singing blends well with the clarity and heaviness of the drums and Bass coming through on this one. Lyrically this album has so many uplifting songs - "I've been a survivor since I began to crawl. I've fallen down, but I'm not out, The Devil's at my door. 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".....wow. If you are reading along to these lyrics, you can't help but feel motivated. I like this song as the opener as opposed to anything else because of the slow build up and the way the song warms you up for what is still to come.
The song ends and flows nicely into 'Skulls' which might just be my favourite song on the album. I just like the flow of the song and it's something 'Halestorm' do really well - control the flow and have effective pauses within their songs. The guitar work between Lzzy, Hottinger and Smith blends so well across this album. 'Skulls' has some catchy lyrics that sound so raw - "I can't close my eyes and make it fade. I won't shut my mouth and take it. God, no, I won't be another empty skull". If you have the headphones on and the volume at the right level, this will give you goosebumps when Lzzy is screaming that last verse. 'Skulls' ends with a sort of pulsing drum and guitar sound before rolling into the fast, no holds barred track, 'Uncomfortable'.
When you are listening along to this record - either on wax or streaming, really make sure you have the lyrics in front of you to sing along with. 'Uncomfortable' is such a fun song to follow along because it goes straight into quick riffing and fast vocals and is very punk. This song has Lzzy confessing that she loves to make you feel 'Uncomfortable' and the person who fuelled her with her pain provides so much motivation throughout the record. It is a lot quicker than the first tracks and as the chorus comes in she stretches out singing 'Unnnnncooommfortableeee to great effect'. The stylus doesn't miss a beat on this playthrough and Raskulinecz has done a great job with the overall production. I would have to say this record is up there with the best of them in terms of sound quality.
Before you know it the slow humming track 'Buzz' is coming through the speakers and it has a similar pace to the first track which bookends Side A nicely. There are quite a few tracks that I would label as having power ballad moments and another band that does this well is 'The Pretty Reckless'. Check them out!
The songs on 'Vicious' fluctuate between admiring a new flame or destroying an ex-lover so well that there is something for everyone to relate to on this album. I could also hear through the speakers the faint sound of Daft Punk-esque (robotic) vocal singing in the background, which I didn't pick up on before. Lzzy is toying with the listener, engaging you to come along for her ride. "I do admit, I've come to like the attention. The heavy look in your eyes. So break a piece off of my latest obsession. A taste of pure paradise". I like the ending of this one where the song ends and then you hear Lzzy say without any instruments playing......."I like it".
It ends Side A and it's time to flip the record over to Side B.
Have you ever been to room 1334? Well if you have then you obviously had a good time because this song is a fun, well paced romp with Lzzy singing about a very rock & roll tradition of a one night stand. 'Do Not Disturb' shows a strength of the band in their storytelling and delivery. I liked when I heard this song live and 'Halestorm' paused after singing, "I love your accent..." and in the silence there were a lot of people yelling out "bloody oath" and "you betcha". Lzzy had a smile on her face before continuing on with the song so they must get a lot of enjoyment from singing this song live. If you want to check out the setlist for the show I went too please click here.
Rolling right along into 'Conflicted', the children have gone to bed and I switch over to my headphones for this one. The song showcases the band mixing things up with acoustic and electric guitars that seems to work well. The vocals are a lot softer in parts and Lzzy is showing off her range and ability now - which is a good thing. It pairs well lyrically with the previous song and track listing arrangement has really been thought out on this record. Now this song progressively gets a bit faster until Lzzy sings "I'm conflicted, this addiction's got me twisted on you", which sounds like she is right up close to the microphone and then the rest of the band comes back in to finish the song. Sounded really good coming through the Sennheiser headphones.
Third song on Side B, which by the way is flying by, is the optimistic 'Killing Ourselves To Live'. I say optimistic because the band are admitting that they are exhausted but there is no way that they will be slowing down. The intro reminds me of an 'Avenged Sevenfold' sound and vocally could be the rawest chorus - "Here we are, killing ourselves to live. We just need one more hit and we might just live forever. Oh, here we are. We're going down with this ship and if this is our last trip. At least we'll go together". It's dark and inspirational at the same time and I can't see 'Halestorm' losing fans or slowing down anytime soon. Another song that leads nicely into the last track on Side B is 'Heart Of Novocaine'.
I know that this is one of Night Kat's favourites on this album and its an acoustic banger of a song. It's personal and pushes Lzzy to her limits vocally. I hope that they perform this song live in future shows as you would have a lot of people in the crowd belting this one out. "My fear has died, my tears have dried. I don't feel afraid and I won't run away. I believe in me and now I see". The family dynamic and close relationships of Arejay and Lzzy(Hale siblings), mixed with Hottinger and Smith really do shine through. Because of this bond they really seem to not be able to put a bad song out. As this song ends it takes me a small moment to comprehend that it's time to swap LP1 to LP2 and play Side C. I think it was because LP1 was such an enjoyable listen with no weak song.
Side C is now sitting on the turntable and I press the spin button and drop the stylus on the first song, 'Painkiller'. Whenever I hear that I always think of the knockout song by the same name performed by 'Judas Priest'. This song by 'Halestorm' has a strong bass line by Smith throughout that allows the drumming of Arejay and guitars of Lzzy and Hottinger to work together nicely.
The next song I remember briefly from the live show because it was sung as an acoustic medley. 'White Dress' works well on the record and so does the acoustic live version. I know that 'Halestorm' released a stripped back version of this album on streaming but it only showcases some songs acoustically. The chorus on 'White Dress' is memorable in how the words are delivered - "I'm not the girl in the White Dress, I'm not your fairytale princess. I'm sorry mama that I made you cry. Some day you'll know the reason why".
Easily the strongest song on Side C is the title track, 'Vicious' and another favourite of Night Kat. You can really hear the depth in her voice on this one when she says, "You can call me Miss Malicious". Just reiterating the strength of the band and their ability to put out songs that also make others feel unstoppable. Unfortunately for the release of this album they didn't feel the need to play this song at the live show in Sydney, which is unheard of. Usually the song that the record is named after is generally the hit single or standout track. "What doesn't kill me, Makes me Vicious".
'The Silence' is such a unique song compared to the rest of the album. It has a slow dance feel about it that wouldn't go amiss being played for happy or sad reasons. Especially when the chorus is being sung, "I will feel you, I will see you, I will hear you....after the silence". Powerful ending to the album.
On Side D there are four bonus tracks which were only included on the vinyl pressing and nowhere else from my understanding. Interestingly, the single from the album released in the lead up, 'Chemicals' was not included on the album. They did play it at the live show but it never made the record. I will leave the bonus tracks as a secret because you really need to find this one and add it to your collection. The pick of the bonus tracks for me would have to be 'Golden'.
The stylus has now hit the dead wax and it's time for the LP to be placed back in its sleeve.
We really hope that you enjoyed this week's Spin by 'Halestorm'. It has been a fun record to review and appreciate the love and feedback we are getting via socials, comments on site or direct messaging. A worthy cover to hear from the band is Metallica's - 'Ride The Lightning' off their 'Reanimate 3.0' covers EP. For now, it's time to hit the bed and rest up but before I do I wanted to let you know some exciting news! We have been working tirelessly in the background on the podcast which is almost ready to share to the world. Keep an eye on our socials for that update in the near future!
Until our next Spin, be Kind to your instruments and be Kind to your Wax!