I think we can all agree that when Halestorm announced their upcoming new album Vicious while simultaneously dropping its first single, the thunderous and unapologetic “Uncomfortable,” we were all expecting a heavy-hitting metal album. Well, I can assure you that while this is true in part, the meaning behind the title goes a whole lot deeper than a description of its sound.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is nothing new for Halestorm, one of rock’s most prominent modern groups. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale has always been very expressive as a musician and songwriter, both in her songs and in how she presents herself in general to the rest of the world. Frequently engaging with fans on social media and getting down n’ dirty in her “#AskLzzyAnything” Q&As on twitter, it seems as if she has absolutely nothing to hide. But when it came to writing this fourth record, she somehow managed to dig even deeper.
Vicious is all about being as raw and real as possible. It’s about pushing boundaries of what’s considered normal and appropriate. It’s about women being open about their sexual desires just as much as men. It’s about being so broken that you turn cold. About being yourself. Lzzy’s lyrics have skimmed the surface of these topics before, but now they’ve delved to the abyss.
The first track “Black Vultures” opens with a roaring scream and a pounding guitar riff that will have you maxing out the volume. “Skulls” starts with a rap-like verse and a matching thumping bassline, then explodes into a metal mayhem until we have the well-known “Uncomfortable,” which has already been in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart for several weeks. These first few songs act together as the heaviest part of the album before it starts to branch out a bit in sound.
“Do Not Disturb,” the latest single from the album with a promiscuous storyline and sleazy guitar licks and “Conflicted” are about sexual tension while “Buzz” and “Painkiller” are about the addictive bliss of lust. “Killing Ourselves to Live” features some of the absolute highest notes we’ve heard Lzzy’s voice hit, a thrashy solo and a fierce but emotive melody.
“White Dress,” one of my particular favorites, is for the ladies who pride themselves on being different and not conforming to society’s views of femininity. That being dark and mysterious is just as beautiful as being light and innocent. The self-titled track focuses on the destructive experiences we endure in life that us into stronger individuals.
“Heart of Novocaine” and “The Silence” explore two very different types of relationships. The former will be a painful trip down memory lane for those who have been in emotionally abusive relationships as the chilling lyrics touch upon how hard it is to open up again after being hurt. “The Silence,” the closing track, nostalgically reflects upon a young, blossoming love with a warm lens. Both are highlights on the record as they are acoustic, placing a much larger emphasis on Lzzy’s voice and truly validating that she is one of the best and most endowed singers of all time. Hey, even Billy Corgan agrees.
In closing, Vicious is the earnest, most mature piece of art Halestorm has created so far. Genuine, intense, and inspiring, I’m looking forward to see them continue touring the world nonstop for as long as possible, especially because these songs are going to sound kickass live. Vicious is out July 27th.