Halestorm is aptly named, as vowel-averse frontwoman Lzzy Hale has an F5 tornado for a voice, which she uses to great effect on her band's fourth studio long-player. The follow-up to 2015's Into the Wild Life, which was the group's highest-charting outing to date, Vicious doesn't deviate too much from the stock hedonism of its predecessor -- the holy hard rock trinity of sex, drugs, and rock & roll is alive and well -- but it connects on such a visceral and familiar level that listeners will likely be unable to resist the urge to turn things up to 11. In lesser hands, big-box hard rock songs like "Skulls," "Uncomfortable," and "Black Vultures" would blow in one ear and out the other, but Hale and company are as adept with hooks as they are with decibels, which makes the material sticky enough to leave some residue on its way out of your head. Produced with a considerable amount of punch by Nick Raskulinecz (Ghost, Foo Fighters), the 12-track set ticks off all the boxes, from big, inclusive, arena-ready anthems like "Killing Ourselves to Live" and cigarette lighter-ready power ballads like "Heart of Novocaine" to the trashy vamp-ups "Do Not Disturb" and "Vicious," the latter of which gives off a surprising Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails vibe. The nostalgia-driven, Zeppelin-esque closer, "The Silence," feels a bit out of place tonally, but it does a nice job showing what a versatile singer Hale is -- equal parts Pat Benatar, Brandi Carlile, and Cinderella's Tom Keifer -- and allows some much needed light into the room. Four albums in and Halestorm appear to have officially hit their stride.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger