Halestorm threaten to live up to their name on fearsome album opener “Love Bites [So Do I]”. A torrential onslaught ensues as swirling guitars and relentless hammering percussion overcomes a tragically conventional chorus. Lzzy Hale proves equally ferocious as her slick tongue and spunky attitude offers a refreshing change of pace from the po-faced divas that have come to dominate hard rock in recent years. Sadly this excitement lasts all of nine minutes.
“Mz. Hyde” is a surprisingly fitting analogy for a band who are clearly capable of delivering a buoyant and thrilling theatrical sound. Unfortunately, the devilish wink and nod of Mz. Hyde, which presides over “I Miss The Misery” and “Freak Like Me” is all too often traded in for the whingeing rock (“Beautiful With You”) and the stadium shlock (“American Boys”) of Mz. Jekyll. Halestorm’s problems are not limited to the quiet-loud divide. The paint by numbers ballad “In Your Room” is well judged if uninspired, while hard rocker “Daughters Of Darkness” is simply too camp and knowing for its own good.
“You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s Bad Thing” captures the best and worst of the emerging band. At times it’s a melodious riot full of in your face attitude and stampeding guitars, but more often than not Hale simply tries too hard. “C U Next Tuesday” is a punchline so morose it would make even the most feckless teenager cringe, while references to “Jagerbombs” feel forced, as if Halestorm are desperately trying to convince us that they’re the life of the party. Hardly water off a duck’s back, Halestorm make dismissing the hate sound more arduous than effortless.
Still beneath all the contrivances and awkward moments there is a glimmer of promise. Halestorm have something, and occupying the space between the spikey pop of Paramore and the more laden operatic rock of Lacuna Coil is a smart move. Sadly, The Strange Case Of… never quite sits comfortably, as soon as the band lock into a charismatic groove, they falter. Too often Halestorm settle for sloppy pastiche and the kind of vacuous middle of the road rocking that would make Richie Sambora yawn.
Buy If: If you fancy some spunky theatrical rock.
Skip If: You’ve had your fill of thoughtless line of best-fit rock.
Best Track: I Miss The Misery
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