Release Date: Apr 14, 2015
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
The third studio long-player from the Grammy Award-winning hard rockers led by powerhouse vocalist Lzzy Hale, Into the Wild Life doubles down on the more radio-friendly elements that were introduced on 2012's Strange Case Of…, but it also plays fast and loose with the formula, pouring as many different stylistic elements as it can into each of its 12 (15 if you pick up the deluxe version) cuts. As per usual, Hale's tornadic vocals lead the charge, and she lays down some of her best work to date on stand-out cuts like "I Am the Fire," "Gonna Get Mine," the heartfelt ballad "Dear Daughter," and the blistering, aptly named "Mayhem," the latter of which eschews some of the more traditional hard rock Halestorm tropes (of which there are many) in favor of a nervy blast of pure punk-metal malevolence. Slicker and a tad tamer than previous outings, Halestorm can still put the pedal to the metal, as evidenced by the bruising, vaguely Sabbath-esque "Sick Individual," the meaty, electro-kissed opener "Scream," and the aforementioned "Mayhem" -- they even offer up an unapologetically cheesy and surprisingly ballsy arena rock anthem with "I Like It Heavy" (think an agitated, juiced-up version of Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll").
If only every rock singer were as unapologetically confident as Halestorm's Lzzy Hale. In the past, she's sung lascivious lyrics like "I get off on you getting off on me" and "Love bites, but so do I" with all the self-consciousness of a Russell Brand character. Now, on "Apocalyptic" — the lead single off the hard-rock group's third LP, Into the Wild Life — Hale howls, "Like end of the world, break-up sex...baby, love me apocalyptic," and she sings it like she means it.
From the moment their second album, The Strange Case Of …, propelled them into the rock spotlight, Halestorm have looked every bit the arena-filling phenomenon in waiting. Singer Lizzy Hale’s powerful voice and a handful of radio-friendly anthems have certainly endeared them to a sizeable audience, and Into the Wild Life will doubtless sell in vast quantities, but the problem here is that all the intriguing rough edges they exhibited last time round have been scrubbed away. Jay Joyce’s heavy-handed production has transformed a likable hard rock band into a slick, mainstream pop act, albeit one with a penchant for power chords and blazing guitar solos.
Had Lzzy Hale been around to wield her formidable pipes a couple of decades ago, her wails might have been showcased on generously hooky tracks à la Heart and Lita Ford. Instead, her band Halestorm operates in the relative shadows of circa 2015 mainstream hard rock, which even at its catchiest is too uncool to headline Coachella or snag a 6.7 from Pitchfork. Which is a shame: Halestorm’s third album is packed with straightforward mud-in-your-eye rockers, but also throws enough stylistic curveballs to set it apart from the crowd.