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Back From The Dead and Boombox Double Bill: Did Halestorm and Fozzy Release the Two Best Radio-Rock Albums of the Year?

Two bands with surprisingly similar styles but vastly different execution styles. However, both put out their muchly anticipated new albums on the same day a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to review both so figured we’d both get involved and do it this way for a change! Charlotte and I are both massive Halestorm fans, while I’ve been a fan of the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla, Y2J, the Painmaker, the Demo God and all that other bollocks for all my life. Oh, and Rich Ward is insane too, big up the Duke in Stuck Mojo and Adrenaline Mob. So, Let’s get on with the reviews, shall we?

Halestorm: Back From The Dead

First, I think we should get Charlotte’s review out of the way…

Back From The Dead made me die and come back to life. Lzzy’s vocals are a powerhouse – the control on her screams become more and more impressive with every new album. The band have reached new heights and I am HERE for it. This album makes you weak at the knees, you might want to sit down for your first listen. Apart from the obvious ones (‘Back From The Dead’ and ‘The Steeple’ that were previously released as singles), you’re going to want to listen to ‘I Come First’ and ‘Wicked Ways’ if you’re in the mood for something heavy and ‘Raise Your Horns’ for that feel-good, community spirit.

The message of Back From The Dead really resonated with me. Everyone will have their own interpretation, but building the courage to fight your demons and get back to the fight is something that flows throughout the album. Expressing the band’s thoughts and inspiration behind community, freedom, your inner demons and humanity, Back From The Dead becomes Halestorm’s latest release with 11 insane tracks for you to add to your daily playlist.

Now, let’s dive into the tracks a little deeper and see what they are all about!

The titular track and lead single on the album is, quite frankly, a banger. From the powerful opening notes of the guitar and vocals through the heavy, mid-tempo verses and catchy as hell chorus, it has everything you’d come to expect from Lzzy and Co. Add to that some of the best soring notes that Lizzy has hit on a record in years and even a pretty awesome guitar solo! Anyone who hasn’t already checked this out, you should. Playlisted!

‘Wicked Ways’ opens on some more trademark Hale catchy shouting, opening on the fantastic chorus. The verses sound like constant build-ups too, which was really fun and interesting. The lyrics are questionable but they have at least grown more subtle than the usual obvious, constant sex talk. The track’s pretty high paced, heading into a breakdown of sorts not long after the one-minute mark. However it leads to more awesome breakdowning and a hell of a lot of chorus for an outro. It’s epic but a tad repetitive. Still, two for two on good songs!

Check out our New Music Monday about these albums here.

‘Strange Girl’ is like ‘Do Not Disturb’ off their previous album, stripped back, more blues-oriented and darker. It unfortunately doesn’t have quite as strong a chorus as the aforementioned song. However, it does have more of the stronger, more mature lyric writing that is making me love this album a lot so far. Also, is it just me, or does the chorus remind you of Imagine Dragons’ ‘Radioactive’? Just me? Okay, moving on…

‘Brightside’ is another good hard rock track, the positive lyrics being the main highlight. Then we reach ‘The Steeple’. I wasn’t too into this track when it first came out, but it has grown on me a lot since then. The band have always done a great job with the whole ‘we’re all one big happy rock family’ thing in their lyrics, and this is no exception. Lzzy singing about how rock is everything to her is pretty empowering as a rock fan, I have to say. And the chorus has grown on me a lot more with each listen, too! Playlisted!

The ballad of the album, ‘Terrible Things’ is fantastic. It is truly beautiful, contrasting perfectly with the sombre, deep lyrical content. And the fact that it stays low throughout, never having the drop from the instruments that I imagine was oh so tempting. It stays as just a simple guitar, vocals and strings throughout, and only adds to the mood of the track. It’s one of the best, most profound ballads I’ve heard in a long while, and easily makes the playlist!

Tracks like ‘My Redemption’ and ‘Bombshell’ are good for album tracks. There’s a fun riff or vocal line here and there, but there isn’t much memorable about them. In fact, in my opinion the album peters off for the second half. It’s still good, but it’s very much a front loaded album. Even the other slow track, closer ‘Raise Your Horns’, does the horribly usual pet peeve of mine, closing the album on a whimper, not a bang. And as good as the lyrics are, it’s not as as good as ‘Terrible Things’.

Overall: A damn solid album from one of the best mainstream rock bands around today. They have matured a lot over the last four years and it has made for maybe the best album they have put out outside of The Strange Case Of…. I cannot await to hear a good half of this live, and I really hope this is the album that pushes them to the top of the rock world!

Joe’s Score: 8.5/10 Charlotte’s Score: 10/10

Fozzy: Boombox

Charlotte wrote:

I was a Fozzy virgin before listening to Boombox but man they did not disappoint. Easy-listening rock, I love their overall sound – very Shinedown-like. I think they’d fit very well together on a joint tour or even a joint track. My only criticism is that I’d love to hear more of Chris Jericho’s vocals with a cleaner sound – not necessarily clean vocals, but less distortion and layers around it. However, that might just be a personal preference because I can absolutely understand how they fit in with the sound of the band. This feels like an album where I could go from head-banging to looking out the car pretending I’m in a movie.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, ‘Sane’ is the best single they have released in a decade. Don’t get me wrong, the video is one of the cringiest things I’ve seen in a while, but from the heavy opening riff to the catchy, radio-rock chorus, this is a solid track. My only slight issue with it is that there isn’t much between the 2nd and last choruses. It teases an extended solo but we just got a short one, followed by a stripped back build-up and an extended final chorus. It all felt a little rushed, but I guess at over 4-minutes it was already pushing it slightly for a radio single. A great track and on the playlist!

‘I Still Burn’ surprisingly drops the pace down pretty early on in the album. Opening straight into vocals and slowly building in more and more instruments, it’s a fun, good track. It should have just been later than second on the album. Still, the chorus is heavy in a Linkin Park/ new BMTH kinda way. The bridge is kinda cool and the track gives Rich Ward another brief chance to show off his amazing guitar talent. A good song!

Single ‘Purifier’ unfortunately just feels like another track on the album already. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, with a decent riff and catchy vocals. However, it does very little different to ‘Sane’ or previous tracks like ‘Drinking with Jesus’. Fozzy have a safe zone that they have unfortunately been hidden relatively firmly in since Do You Wanna Start A War? for very little reason. The reason I enjoyed Sin And Bones is because it didn’t sound like much else out there, especially when most tracks on the album sounded distinctly different. Now there’s just rock Fozzy songs, and slow Fozzy songs. ‘Purifier ‘ is the former, ‘Army of One’ is the other.

‘Ugly On The Inside’ has the lyrics ‘U-G-L-Y, You ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly’. Need I say more than that? Oh, and there’s also a ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ cover… this album suddenly got very cringe…

Their 2019 single ‘Nowhere to Run’ at least rocks things back up and brings things back to the now-typical Fozzy level. ‘My Great Wall’ stays at that level and makes me almost give up hope, before ‘What Hell is Like’ kicks in. The riff is great, sounding more like something from their first two albums, and the pre reminds me of ‘Blood Happens’., one of my favourite tracks by the band. The best song on the album by a country mile, I loved it.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is the same uninspired sound as a lot of the rest. None of it is bad, but it’s bland and pretty samey when compared to the rest of the album, and compared to the one before it.

Overall: This was fine. None of it is bad per say, aside for ‘Relax’, it was just distinctly average. Gone are the days when Fozzy would be experimental and fun and hop-genres, instead settling into the sea of butt-rock already out there. At least it’s better than their last two albums.

Joe’s Score: 6/10 Charlotte’s Score: 7/10