THE STRANGE CASE OF…
Released April 9, 2012 (Atlantic Records)
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
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
13. Don’t Know How To Stop
14. Private Parts
15. Hate It When You See Me Cry
Lzzy Hale – vocals, guitar and keyboards
Joe Hottinger – guitar and background vocals
Josh Smith – bass and background vocals
Arejay Hale – drums, percussion and background vocals
James Michael – vocals (14)
Phil X – guitar (5,12)
Jamie Muhoberac – piano (7)
Wolfgang Van Halen – background vocals (12)
Produced by Howard Benson.
Over the last seven years or so, Sleaze Roxx has been my source for discovering many great new bands — from Finland’s Wolfchild (who unfortunately disbanded), to Sweden’s Sister Sin, to Australia’s Airbourne. This time, it was the website’s own readers that provided my source for discovering some great new music. The ‘Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums Of 2012′ had one entry in particular that peaked my curiosity — Halestorm‘s The Strange Case Of… which was ranked number 9. What made Halestorm so appealing was that it was the only band that I had never heard of and their vocalist was a female. A quick check of some of the band’s songs on their website revealed some rocking tunes and therefore I ended up purchasing two of their CDs, including the strangely named The Strange Case Of…
This review was written over a couple of days. At first I was going to state that I knew for sure that The Strange Case Of… would not have made my top 5 list for 2012 but that it could well have cracked my top 10. After listening to the album quite a few more times over the last few days, I would now slot it as my third favorite CD of 2012. For the record, my original top 5 consisted of Diemonds‘ The Bad Pack, Sister Sin‘s Now And Forever, Bonafide‘s Ultimate Rebel, Accept‘s Stalingrad and Slash‘s Apocalyptic Love. It is not lost on me that my “new” top three list contains bands that all have female lead vocalists.
Man — this CD is good! The Strange Case Of… starts off with one of the heaviest songs on the album, “Love Bites (So Do I)”, complete with (at times) thrash like guitar riffs and a very catchy chorus — it is a killer track from start to finish. The next song, “Mz. Hyde”, is one of my favorites on the CD and includes catchy verses, occasionally heavy riffs and again a monster chorus that would surely sound awesome in a live setting. Halestorm simply does not let up following the first two killer tracks with the catchy “I Miss The Misery”, complete with some easy ‘ooooh ooooh ooooh’ sing along portions. What makes Halestorm‘s songs so good on The Strange Case Of… is that the band seems to take the listener on a short journey with each song — from slow to fast, melodic to almost thrash, with memorable choruses and a killer voice that resonates throughout the album. “Freak Like Me” follows the same vein as the first three songs.
Just when you think you have these Pennsylvania rockers all figured out the band starts changing the direction of the CD in a great way. I have never been a big fan of ballads but “Beautiful With You” is a beautiful faster ballad type song and shows that Halestorm is not a one trick pony. The band then pulls the brakes and really slows things down with “In Your Room” which showcases lead vocalist Lzzy Hale‘s beautiful voice. The next song, “Break In”, is simply breathtaking — Hale‘s voice is essentially only accompanied by a piano and simply shines. The song has “hit” written all over it and could be a number one success heard on any radio station if the song got the airplay exposure that it deserves — I still get goose bumps when listening to certain portions of the song. Listening “Break In” reminds me of the first time that I heard Van Halen‘s “Right Now” — I knew the song was a very good one and had “hit” written all over it.
The Strange Case Of… then slowly starts back towards its harder rocking sounds with the mid-tempo “Rock Show”, which is once again quite catchy and easy to sing along to. “Daughters Of Darkness” picks it up a notch with a ‘na na na na na’ beginning, some great guitar work and Lzzy Hale‘s great voice. “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing” is probably my least favorite song on the CD but is still a pretty good one — I can’t remember the last time I encountered a song title with ten words, albeit short ones! “American Boys” is a cool track built on a great riff and once again showcases Hale‘s vocals — sometimes in an almost rap like style. The best might just be saved for last. “Here’s To Us” slows things down and once again has “hit” written all over it — its another song that gives me goose bumps when I listen to it, especially at the beginning — and “Here’s To Us” would surely be a fantastic song to hear live.
If you are going to purchase Halestorm‘s The Strange Case Of… — and I strongly recommend that you do so — make sure that you buy the version with the three bonus tracks. All three songs are quite good and showcase the wide range of styles that Halestorm can play. Thank you Sleaze Roxx Readers for placing Halestorm on the ‘Top 20 Albums Of 2012’ list — had you not done so, I would likely have been deprived of one of the most versatile and best new bands out there. The sad part, as I am writing this review, is that Halestorm has apparently already played in Toronto so I will likely have to wait at least another year before seeing them live.
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2013