By Greg Maki
After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped away touring—the lifeblood of any legitimate rock band—for more than a year, “Back from the Dead” feels like a restatement of purpose for Halestorm. It sees the band tossing aside its dalliances with pop and country music and finding its way back to its hard-rocking roots.
While keyboards and strings occasionally add texture—and the closing track is a piano ballad—this record is all about guitar, drums, bass and vocals. Its closest cousin in the Halestorm discography is the band’s superb second album, “The Strange Case of …” (2012), and thematically it almost plays as a sequel, with songs of individuality and empowerment.
From the triumphant opening of the title track through the closing notes of “Raise Your Horns,” “Back from the Dead” is a celebration of the band, its fans and everything they stand for. Even when frontwoman Lzzy Hale laments the state of the world—and the people who inhabit it—today, as on the acoustic ballad “Terrible Things,” she leaves room for optimism, singing, “In my dreams, I believe we’re not these terrible things.” Elsewhere, on “Strange Girl,” she revels in being an outcast (“The world needs strange girls just like me”), bringing to mind the earlier hit “Freak Like Me,” while on “Bombshell” she refuses to adhere to society’s continued marginalization of women. “Raise Your Horns” implores listeners not to just accept but to be proud of every aspect of themselves and all their experiences, good or bad (“Show every flaw, every scar that this world made you hide”). The album’s biggest, most satisfying rallying cry, “The Steeple,” follows in the tradition of “Rock Show” and “Here’s to Us,” an ode to the band, the fans and the power of music.
Who knows where Halestorm would’ve gone had the world not stopped in 2020. The forced downtime seems to have inspired the band to re-examine itself and get back to what it does best. “Back from the Dead” is the Halestorm revival we’ve been waiting for.
Atlantic Records – May 6, 2022
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