Interview + Review: Halestorm Gets Vicious and Unapologetic on New Album

Vicious arrives everywhere on Friday, July 27th

L to R: Josh Smith (bass); Joe Hottinger (lead guitar); Lzzy Hale (lead singer/rhythm guitar); and Arejay Hale (drums). Photograph by Jimmy Fontaine.

By Sara Alexander

Front woman Lzzy Hale and guitarist Joe Hottinger share stories (and struggles) behind the new album, favorite tracks, and excitement for their upcoming female fronted tour.

Vicious Album Cover

Vicious, the fourth studio album from Halestorm, is heavier, both musically and lyrically, than anything the band has released before. The album is about overcoming difficulties and being unapologetically yourself, even if that makes others “Uncomfortable,” as the first single suggests.

According to Lzzy, the band didn’t set out to write their heaviest record yet, it just kind of happened. “I don’t think we realized how heavy of a record that we made it into until we started playing some of these songs out live against our other catalog. I remember first show I think we added in ‘Black Vultures’ and I turned to the guys I’m like, I think we wrote a heavy record guys.” She laughs, “I guess we had to get that out.”

The album features heavier emotional themes as well, as Lzzy found herself struggling with depression and self-doubt when it came time to write. “I think I really needed to write this record more or less as therapy for myself, and that’s what I think is so rewarding now is that to be on the other side of it and be able to tell myself yeah alright I still got this and come out swinging on the other side.” The theme of overcoming self doubt is threaded throughout the record, especially on anthems like “Black Vultures” and “Killing Ourselves To Live.”

Vicious was produced by Nick Raskulinecz, a friend of the band, who’s previously worked with Foo Fighters, Rush, and Alice In Chains. “He’s been a first choice for years, but our schedules never lined up,” says Lzzy. “He also has been a fan of Halestorm for years so it was really neat to kind of do the record with somebody who could see us outside of ourselves while still being just as passionate for this music that we like to make.” Overall, it was a great fit. Joe adds, “I’d be in a band with that guy any day, and I’m glad that he was our fifth band member.”

The title, Vicious, comes from the track Lzzy wrote with Joe when the rest of the album was already finished. She shares, “I remember the two of us being up at like four in the morning just writing just gibberish with this idea that we love the word vicious. And in my mind, that’s when the album kind of came together.” Lzzy explains, “It’s just so much more in life right now than just being strong and weathering the storm. You kind of have to come at life with a little bit of teeth and be fierce about it. Be bold and forceful and force yourself into these situations that maybe make you uncomfortable.”

2018 Halestorm. Photograph by Jimmy Fontaine.

A Halestorm album just wouldn’t be a Halestorm album without a tune driven by carnal energy, and “Do Not Disturb” does not disappoint. The standout song features a catchy slow groove and is a favorite of Lzzy’s. However, she says, “I feel bad I made our producer slightly uncomfortable with the lyrics.” She laughs, “Poor guy he’s like, alright I think we got it we don’t have to do it ever again now.” The lyrics tell of a sexual encounter among three people in a hotel room and, according to Lzzy, was based on a true story.

The album wraps up with “The Silence,” which proves to be the perfect ballad to counteract the overall heavy tone of the record. It features outstanding vocal work from Lzzy, possibly even her best yet. It’s also the song Joe is most excited for fans to hear. “That music and melody has been bouncing around for like five years and we never quite knew what exactly to do with it. We just knew it needed the right lyrics that fit that mood and just nailed it one night” Joe continues, “It’s a guitar tune we’ve never used and a vibe we’ve never had on a record before so I’m excited for people to hear that one.” The track is something different for the band but will surely be a fan favorite.

Vicious brings something new for Halestorm fans while still delivering on everything fans already love them for. Halestorm will be on the road promoting Vicious with female led bands In This Moment (led by Maria Brink) and New Years Day (led by Ash Costello).

To Lzzy, the opportunity to bring a full female fronted tour to fans is in a word, amazing. “We couldn’t have timed it better. I mean, there’s such an amazing sense of strength and community not just within the female musician club but just the female rock and roll attitude going on right now. The women are kind of taking over.”

Lzzy continues, “For me it’s been an amazing thing to be a part of. I don’t think a day goes by that Ash and Marie and I don’t comment on that in some form because I don’t think we realized how awesome this was gonna be until we got ourselves into it.”

Vicious arrives everywhere on Friday, July 27th. Halestorm has announced tour dates through December for North America and Europe.

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