Halestorm ~ ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP (Atlantic)
Release date: March 22, 2011
My birthday arrived this month, and while I’m happy to dismiss them at this point in my life, I’m happy to accept this gift from Halestorm as my present. Their latest offering, the 6-track-tide-us-over-till-they-get back-in-the -studio-treat, ReAniMate, is a delicious concoction of cover tracks spanning 50 years of rock.
The guys; bassist Josh Smith, guitarist Joe Hottinger, and drummer Arejay Hale, shine throughout. Josh is, as always, rock solid and understated. Joe gets a chance to show off here, and does some amazing work. Arejay is the living equivalent of the Muppet, Animal. He’s back there bashing and beating away on his kit with wild abandon… note I didn’t say reckless. He’s a beast, but he’s master of his domain.
While most fans of Halestorm would be happy to listen to vocalist Lzzy Hale sing her way through the yellow pages or a dictionary, she truly gets a chance to showcase her abilities on ReAniMate. In fact, from what I can hear, the guys didn’t participate at all in the vocals. Lzzy handles every note. The songs represented here are a varied mix that take her out of her traditional comfort zone of music she’s written.
ReAnimate kicks off in fine metal fashion with a razor sharp version of Skid Row‘s, “Slave To The Grind”. And I know somewhere out there Sebastian Bach just fell in love. This showcases the band in their element, hard rocking, with Lzzy’s eat-you-alive vocal attack.
The EP’s second track may be the most surprising of all. The band takes a turn at reinterpreting Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance”. When you see this on the track list you get that what-were-they-thinking grimace followed by the train-wreck mentality of I have to listen just to hear how ugly it will be. Well, sorry to disappoint, but they not only make this a brilliant choice, but make it a truly tasty choice as well. Lzzy gets a chance to highlight the various nuances of her chops on this one. From biting to sultry to lilting, she covers the bases, and does Stefani Germanotta proud. If you still have that image of Arejay as Animal in your head, you’ll really see it here as he slams away on his cymbals.
I was not a fan of the 90’s grunge scene. Nirvana, Soundgarden and their ilk almost single-handledly choked the life out of melodic metal and hard rock. Temple of the Dog‘s “Hunger Strike” was one of the few songs from that era I could stomach. I was disappointed to see Halestorm had chosen to cover it though, but I should have known they’d bring it to life in a way even I would like. Since most people don’t hold my disdain for 90’s grunge, you should absolutely love this angsty-grinding rendition.
Next up, Lzzy and company channel their inner Axl and Slash, on Guns ‘n Roses’ “Out Ta Get Me”. For G’nR die hards, you should be pleased with their reanimated version. Joe really gets his inner axe-God on here.
Ann Wilson has long been my female voice of choice. Luxurious in depth and scope. So from the moment Lzzy Hale broke onto the national stage, I have been dying to hear her do a Heart song. While I had hoped for something from the band’s more classic 70’s catalog; “Crazy On You”, “Magic Man”, “Barracuda”… I am happy with “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You”, a song legendary producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shania Twain) penned. The most intriguing part of this version is listening to Lzzy bring not just Ann’s vocals to life, but the counter-point of Nancy Wilson’s as well. With all love and undying respect to the Wilson sisters, this is a stronger version. Perhaps because it’s a got a more modern feel.
The EP’s final track takes us back to the 60’s to breathe new life as they say into the the Beatles classic, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. I love what Joe has done here on guitar, and I’m digging Josh’s bass work on this one. This cover alone is quite inspired and gives a clear indication of why the band chose to call this EP, ReAniMate, for they have truly done that throughout, but especially here.
I know many music connoisseurs look down on covers albums. Certainly there have been a dearth of them lately. The difference here is Halestorm isn’t trying to revive a fading career, or hold off fans until they can come up with inspired new original material. This EP was made for two primary reasons: for the love and patience of their loyal fans, and for their own love of the music that came before them. You can hear both in these 6 tracks.
My cons here? I want more. I’d have loved a full album, but between their touring schedule and need to get into the studio for their sophomore album, there are many reasons to have kept this to the small inspired gift that it is. And of course, this was meant to be a fun retreat, so more might have been less. The 70’s was the one decade the band didn’t cover on this EP, another reason I longed for a classic Heart track, but it’s not worth quibbling over when the EP is so damn good.
You can still order ReAniMate before the March 22nd release date. It’s only $4.99 and worth every penny. Pre-order your copy!!! Get your ears on it. You will not be disappointed.