Halestorm is one of the best bands to come on to the scene in the last 12 years. Fronted by the powerhouse, Lzzy Hale, the band brings it heavy and has no apologies for anything they do. The songs can be hard, almost thrash and the next minute they can be soft and beautiful and then everything in between. The songs are melodic at times and Lzzy can deliver the goods vocally. Joe Hottinger on guitar is sensational and it is nice to see that the guitar still matters in rock music as his sound is what I really love about the band. Then rounding out the rhythm section is Josh Smith on bass and Arejay Hale on drums and both are the driving force behind the band.
The heavier the band gets, the better for me and my ranking might reflect that so sorry but that is what I love about them. I know they only have 4 studio albums so far, but they need to be heard and ranked. To compensate for that shortfall on studio albums, I will rank their 3 Covers EP that they have done in their ‘Reanimate Series’ of albums. That way you hopefully feel like you are getting your money’s worth stopping by here…wait…you aren’t paying to come so I guess no matter I do, you get your money’s worth. Good to know.
So without further ramblings on and on about nothing, let’s get to the rankings.
THE STUDO ALBUMS RANKED:
THE WORST – ‘INTO THE WILD LIFE’ (2015):
I know the worst is harsh plus it doesn’t really apply in this ranking. I would say this is my least favorite of the bunch. The album came out in 2015 and it was the band’s attempt at being more raw, less polished, but what happened was they sounded more like a mainstream pop rock band. They album wasn’t near as heavy, the songs weren’t as good and there was nothing on this album that totally blew me away like all the other albums have had. It left me feeling empty a little.
That doesn’t mean it was all bad. There were some great moments like the songs “Amen” and the beautiful “Dear Daughter”. I also enjoyed “Apocalyptic”, “I Like it Heavy” and the opening track “Scream”, but overall had a hard time with the sound and feel of the album. I blame the producer Jay Joyce. Now the album did go to #1 on the Rock Chart and to #5 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, so what do I know.
#3 – ‘HALESTORM’ (2009):
The debut album from 2009 absolutely blew me away. I don’t think I had heard anything like this in a long time and Lzzy’s vocals caught me off guard. I hadn’t heard a woman rock like this in years and she completely blew me away. The power in the vocals and her overall impression was captivating and mesmerizing. Then to hear the guitar driven songs was welcome as well as rock seemed to be getting away from the guitar being the focus, but not here.
The opening tracks of “It’s Not You” and “I Get Off” were strong openers and enough to grab hold and pull you in. But it was songs like “What Were You Expecting”, “I’m Not An Angel” and “Familiar Taste of Poison” that solidified the deal. With a debut as powerful and strong as this, how could they ever do better. Well, they did…twice!!!
#2 – ‘VICIOUS’ (2018):
After the disappointing “Into the Wild Life”, my expectations had dropped for this release in 2018. Man, was I wrong. This thing came out of the gate swinging and let me know that Halestorm was back to form and ready to slaughter the world with their music. And that they did. The album title was “Vicious” and that is exactly what you got. Pure energy, pure power and pure splendor.
From the first note of “Black Vulture” and then to go in to “Skulls” and “Uncomfortable”, I was ready to get lost in the storm of music that was coming. Then the songs “Do Not Disturb” and “Painkiller” were so different from each other, but both were killer and some of the best I heard from them in years. “Vicious” summed up the album and on any given day, this could be the #1 for me.
#1 – ‘THE STRANGE CASE OF…’ (2012):
From the opening notes of “Love Bites (So Do I)”, my head almost literally exploded. No sophomore jinx with this album. The band immediately let it be known they were here to stay and they weren’t going anywhere. Their debut album was no fluke, this band has the goods. Lzzy sounded even better, the band played heavier and louder and I was now a lifetime fan.
And when “Mz. Hyde” kicked in, I was floored and wondering where have they been my whole life. That song was a total thrill ride. Then you get songs like “I Miss the Misery”, “Freak Like Me” and even “You Call Me A Bitch Like Its A Bad Thing” show the toughness and the don’t give a shit attitude and it was refreshing as hell to hear. This band was doing it their way and nothing was going to stand in there way. From beginning to end, it is an exhausting and exhilarating ride that you will want to take for a spin again and again and again.
THE REANIMATED COVERS E.P.’S RANKED:
THE WORST – ‘REANIMATE 3.0: THE COVERS EP’ (2017):
One nice thing the band has been doing is a covers EP to keep the fans interest while they are working on new material. They have done 3.0, but sadly it has been a little of diminishing returns with each one. They cover both metal and pop songs with each one and some very classic sounding songs. They don’t normally stray too far from the original and that is actually part of the problem. This time around we get Whitesnake, Sohpie B. Hawkins, Joan Jett, Twenty-One Pilots, Soundgarden and Metallica.
I have to say I didn’t care for the Whitesnake cover of “Still of the Night” as she didn’t match his power and that went with most of these. Sticking close to the originals was the mistake. It brought no life to the song and they didn’t put their stamp on the song which left them flat for me and I got a little bored. When I say Worst, I mean it with this one.
#2 – ‘REANIMATE 2.0: THE COVERS EP’ (2013):
The band’s second Covers EP came after ‘The Strange Case of’ and this one was pretty good. Not as good as the first, but still at least had some exceptional offerings compared to #3. This time around we get covers of Judas Priest, Daft Punk, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac and Marilyn Manson.
The good of this one was the Daft Punk song “Get Lucky” as they put their sound on it. “Dissident Aggressor” was great and I enjoyed “Gold Dust Woman” and “1996” a lot. My biggest peave was “Hell is For Children” as Lzzy couldn’t match the vocal talents of Pat Benatar. With this song they should’ve tried to not make it sound too much like the original as it is hard to beat Pat. Outside of that, it was enjoyable listen.
#1 – ‘REANIMATE: THE COVERS EP’ (2011):
In this case, the first was the best. This one rocked out hard at times and as I said at the beginning, the heavier the better with this band. And they brought the heavy with covers by Skid Row, Temple of the Dog, Guns ‘N Roses as well as Lady Gaga, Heart and even The Beatles. I actually enjoyed this one from start to finish and some of the song are as good as the originals in my book.
First up would be Skid Rows’ “Slave to the Grind”. I enjoyed this as much as I do Skid Rows’ original version. It is balls-to-the walls energy and the guitar work is immense and killer. And not to be outdone, the band’s cover of “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga is absolutely stellar. It is a hard rock version of a pop/dance track. The band throws their heart in to it and knocks it out of the park. And then my other favorite is a cover of Heart’s “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” and Lzzy did as good as Ann Wilson and sucked me in to the song forgetting for a second of Heart’s version. If you had to get one, get this one.
And there you have it, The Halestorm studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same artist and that is all that matters really. And if as a result, you find something new, then my job is done!!!