The Strange Case of…, the latest release from hard rock band Halestorm, is proof positive that a rock band can have the range to rock the crap out of a song, then turn around and produce a beautiful ballad. In other words—the ability to be outstanding musicians.
To illustrate…if you procure a copy of this record (which you should), listen to the opening track “Love Bites (So Do I),” then skip to the middle and play the track “Break In.” You can hardly believe the same band is playing both songs. The first song is filled with heavy guitars and screeching vocals; the second is a gorgeous piano-and-string driven rock ballad. But somehow these two songs, along with the others, all seem to belong on the same record. This is what I mean by “range.”
This is the sophomore album from the Pennsylvania-based rock band, who have spent the better part of the last two years with heavy touring with the likes of Shinedown, Papa Roach, Godsmack and Stone Sour, among other notable bands. Riding on the success of their debut self-titled album, Halestorm reportedly went into this new project with the purpose of making it more expressive than the first—adding more dimension, rather than just rocking out again.
They succeeded—big time. This is rock music at its finest, with just enough pop sensibility to make it accessible to the masses. It’s gritty and raw in some points, sensitive and soft in others. This is the kind of musicality that takes a rock band into the big leagues.
For me, the strongest element of this record—and indeed, of this band—is the flawless vocal ability of front-woman Lzzy Hale. Man, can that girl bring it, on both ends of the spectrum. From the searing screeching on “Love Bites” to the guttural growling on “Mz. Hyde” to the gorgeous vulnerability on “Beautiful With You,” Hale demonstrates a command of her voice that, IMHO, puts her in the same category with rocker chicks like Stevie Nicks or Melissa Etheridge. She simply nails it, every time.
All that said, I can’t say that I’d categorize The Strange Case Of… in the same class with timeless rock albums of the past—Halestorm’s songwriting would have to come up a couple of notches for that. But strictly on the basis of their sound and performance, this record shows a band that definitely has the potential to stand toe to toe with some of the legends of rock, and is apparently well on its way.
ALBUM RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)