Among the young guns of hard rock, Halestorm is the reigning king of the mountain. Their eponymous 2009 debut wasn’t exactly an overnight success, but their next studio album, last year’s 'The Strange Case Of…' (read my review here) catapulted the band to the stratosphere. Indeed, no sophomore slump here! Since then, they have seemingly done no wrong. The Red Lion, Pennsylvania, rockers have released three music videos highlighting vocalist Lzzy Hale’s talents both as guitarist and a frontwoman, not to mention the physical charms she’s been blessed with. The band has also been touring non-stop, hitting Columbus no less than three times in the past 17 months, including a highlight reel-worthy set at this year’s Rock On The Range festival (read my review here). By the way, they’ll be here in December too. They were originally booked to perform at the Newport Music Hall, but tickets sold so well that the concert has been moved to the LC Pavilion.
Halestorm has also worked hard to attract older fans. Recently, on the road, they’ve brought Cinderella vocalist Tom Kiefer on stage a few times to perform the classic hit “Nobody’s Fool.” The band also recorded a covers album, 'ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP,' a couple years ago, which included their take on songs by classic bands such as Skid Row and Heart. Yesterday, Halestorm released their second covers album, cleverly titled 'ReAniMate 2.0.'
Not only are these short albums the perfect opportunity for old school rock fans to check out Halestorm, but it also keeps the band in the spotlight while they don’t have any new material of their own to promote. 'ReAniMate 2.0' features songs from an impressively diverse array of genres and time periods, from 1970s metal (Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor”) to today’s electronica (Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”). Halestorm’s covers, for the most part, don’t stray too far from the source material. While they’re not slavishly mimicking the originals like Anthrax did earlier this year (read my review of 'Anthems' here), they don’t go out of their way to make these songs their own either, ala Metallica.
But like Anthrax’s 'Anthems,' the main attraction here is the vocalist. Lzzy Hale will ultimately be regarded as one of the best female rock vocalists of all time, and this EP is “Exhibit D.” While their cover of Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” pales in comparison to Slayer’s version (found on their 1988 masterpiece, 'South of Heaven'), it still rocks pretty hard. Hale’s screams – which sound more like Sebastian Bach than Rob Halford – will have even the most jaded rocker pumping their fist and banging their head. Brian Johnson, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, even Marilyn Manson… Hale does them all justice, although the music backing her up on Halestorm’s cover of “1996” is surprisingly tepid. By comparison, the original almost sounds like death metal.
Granted, Halestorm is not really a metal band, so perhaps it’s unfair to be too critical of their covers of metal songs. And if these songs can inspire fans to check out the originals, then more power to them. The bulk of Halestorm’s fanbase probably wasn’t even born when most of them were recorded (neither were the members of the band for that matter). Bottom line: nothing here adds up to anything less than six more additions to Halestorm’s already lethal live show. Their fans will eat this up and beg for 'ReAniMate 3.0.'