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Halestorm rides on thrash-pop

Snider doesn’t need yesterday because today is his

Halestorm, “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 like 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.

The four-piece starts it out even-handed by summoning the forces of nature in “Black Vultures,” painting a sonic picture of flying scavengers circling the sky. The song rotates between its flashy modes of thrash to more melodic sensibilities while Lzzy unabashedly wails words of survival.

“Uncomfortable” may be one of the album’s strongest tracks. The song starts out as a shredder with a rhythm that chugs behind chunky guitar riffs before Lzzy spits her spiel like fire following an illuminated bridge that adds nuance to a catchy chorus. It’s an easy head-banger that doesn’t lose intensity even during its more pop-heavy parts.

But the band also knows how to change a pace when it comes down to it.


“Conflicted” is an ode to indecision, set by a grinding mood in a slower tempo while emphasizing the cleaner, rootsy-rock guitars. Lzzy gets outwardly sensual on “Do Not Disturb,” while the final track, “The Silence,” ends the album on an audibly lighter note as an acoustic ballad to a love lost.

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.

Dee Snider, “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.


NASHVILLE, Tenn: It was just meant to be: Pop singer Bebe Rexha and country duo Florida Georgia Line’s massive crossover hit “Meant to Be” has broken a new record on Billboard’s Hot country songs chart, remaining in the No. 1 spot for 35 weeks.

Billboard reports the song, which was dually promoted to country and pop radio, passed Sam Hunt’s previous powerhouse “Body Like a Back Road,” which held the record for 34 weeks in 2017.

The chart encompasses streaming, sales and airplay. Written by Rexha, FGL’s Tyler Hubbard, Josh Miller and David Garcia, “Meant to Be” has peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

The song has been No. 1 on the country charts since it debuted at the top spot in December. “Meant to Be” appears on Rexha’s 2017 EP, “All Your Fault: Pt. 2,” and her full-length debut album, “Expectations,” released last month.

This isn’t Florida Georgia Line’s first time setting a record on Billboard’s Hot country songs chart. They had previously broken the record when their breakthrough hit, “Cruise” with rapper Nelly, topped the chart for 24 weeks in 2012 and 2013. (AP)

They’ve also had major success with the hit “H.O.L.Y.” — which spent 18 weeks at No. 1.

“Meant to Be” has also made history for Rexha. She surpassed Taylor Swift for the longest leading No. 1 on the country charts for a song sung by a lead female.

With multiple hits, Florida Georgia Line have spent a total of 90 weeks atop the Hot country songs chart, surpassing country icon George Strait. (AP)

By Pablo Arauz Pena

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