ALBUM: “Vicious” (Atlantic)


“Vicious” comes five years after Halestorm’s Grammy-winning hit “Love Bites (So Do I)” became the group’s standing claim to mainstream fame. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with bands such as Foo Fighters and Alice in Chains, “Vicious” is a jump in sonic variety since the band’s third full-length album, “Into the Wild Life,” topped the rock charts in 2015.

The new album stays true to the band’s long-standing creative elements. The cryptic but assertive attitude of Lzzy Hale’s diverse vocal range and raunchy guitar riffs team up well with her brother Arejay’s locomotive percussion, Joe Hottinger’s sharp guitar work and Josh Smith’s thumping bass walks.

On “Vicious,” the group takes their raw and abrasive guitar sound up a notch with more polished, virtuoso axe-playing.

It’s also worth noting that Lzzy’s vocals really dazzle on this one. The frontwoman’s ferocity seems to embody the vocal stylings of metal legends like Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy from Motorhead only with her truly distinct Halestorm touch.

While “Vicious” does contain a share of fillers, it doesn’t fall short of what a solid metal album should do – beat the heck out of traditional musical niceties with powerful sonic blasts and metaphorical fists of tough, lightning-fast rock ’n’ roll.

– PABLO ARAUZ PENA, Associated Press


ALBUM: “For the Love of Metal” (Napalm)


Dee Snider, the Long Island mouth that roared on all-time rock classics including “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” already did the solo thing in the early ’90s while Twisted Sister was on hiatus.

But apparently there was something deeper, darker and heavier brewing within Snider that even he might not have known was there. (And this from a man who wrote a horror movie about a killer who sews victims’ mouths shut.)

That darkness shines on “For the Love of Metal,” a project that came about when Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta dared Snider to make a modern metal album. The result is heavy on growls, guttural snarls and bowel-rattling bass and guitar riffs.

It’s difficult to imagine that a guy old enough to collect Social Security can melt your face deep into his fifth decade in the heavy metal biz. But he does. And Snider garnishes these tracks with just enough attitude to appeal to his ’80s fans. “Lies Are a Business” is steeped in today’s nu-metal riffage, yet it employs a twin-lead guitar solo that could have been ripped from Accept’s “Fast As A Shark.”

“Roll Over You” sounds like an extended Twisted Sister stage rant set to music, and lyrics that are as offensively unprintable at the start as they are at the very end.

The true reveal here is “Tomorrow’s No Concern,” in which Dee seemingly lets go of his considerable ’80s legacy, saying he doesn’t need it because he’s got today well in hand.

It sure sounds like it.

– Wayne Parry, Associated Press

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