Halestorm is easily my favorite modern rock band in the music industry right now and considering their talent, it’s not hard to understand why. Fresh off of their chart-topping “Into the Wild Life” album which reached #1 on the US Rock charts, asking for new material so soon, would be too much. But alas, Halestorm loves what they do and are always writing, recording, and touring, and decided to release their third EP of covers. When I heard that they were planning to release a third EP, I was ecstatic, as their first two were full of excellent and very diverse covers, ranging from Marilyn Manson, Guns N’ Roses, Fleetwood Mac, and Lady GaGa. Their third EP managed to maintain the quality and diversity while raising the bar even higher. If Halestorm manages to release an EP that surpasses this in quality, it would be arguably the most impressive feat of their careers.
1) “Still of the Night,” originally performed by Whitesnake. Before I even knew Halestorm was releasing an EP, I saw them in October and they covered this life. As soon as Lzzy Hale sang the opening lyrics, I lost my shit because I was going to be hearing one of my favorite songs of all time live, even if it wasn’t from Whitesnake. Hearing the song live may bias my praise for this cover somewhat, but this is still one of the greatest covers I have ever heard in my life. Halestorm’s version manages rock just as hard as the original, which is quite a feat, as the original is an infectious head-banging masterpiece. Lzzy Hale is, in my opinion, the most talented rock vocalist to arise since the 1980s, and her vocals in this song are absolutely monstrous. She has never sounded more confident in her entire career and her range is fully on show (see her scream at 2:18), possibly rivaling the titanic presence that is David Coverdale. My only complaint about this song is that it is only 4:24 in length, while the original is 6:37. Since they did such a good job, I would have liked the cover to be equal in length with the original. However, this is only the most minor of complaints and I still give this song a 10/10, as it is one HELL of a home run.
2) Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover, originally performed by Sophie B. Hawkins. I had never heard of this song or artist until Halestorm announced the six songs they would be covering for the EP. I have listened to it quite a few times since then and I’m glad Halestorm decided to cover it for two reasons: 1) It introduces me to another artist to check out and broaden my spectrum of music to listen to and 2) it’s a fantastic cover. Halestorm manages to maintain the spirit of the original while still making the song sound like a typical Halestorm ballad, which is no easy task. Halestorm has always been a very emotion-driven band, so covering an emotionally-driven song makes complete sense. My only exposure to the original was the few times I listened to it so I could write a fair review of the cover. Since the original is not in my genre, it didn’t grab my attention immediately. However, it is always fun listening to Halestorm’s influences and it is a solid cover. 8/10.
3) “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” originally performed by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Is there an 80s rock song that exemplifies pure fun more than “I Hate Myself for Loving You?” I would say that you would have to make a good argument for a different song to convince me otherwise, and that is why it’s the perfect song for Halestorm to cover. I’ve seen them live twice, and I can definitely say that few bands enjoy playing live more than they do, and that sense of fun rubs off onto the crowd, making their shows a blast. Halestorm embraces the fun spirit of the song and absolutely takes off with it. Since Lzzy Hale is singing it, she brings her typical sass and attitude to put the cherry on top. The second Lzzy starts singing it’s absolutely impossible not to picture the devious smile on her face. While this cover doesn’t show off Lzzy’s vocals as much as the other songs, her vocals are still on point and the fun and energy more than take over and make this cover impossible to not enjoy. 10/10.
4) Heathens originally performed by Twenty One Pilots. Halestorm covering a hip-hop song? What is this madness? As with Sophie B. Hawkins, I am not very familiar with Twenty One Pilots’ body of work. However, I do know that Twenty One Pilots is the hottest up-and-coming band right now, so it shows that Halestorm has their ear open to the music industry so they know where it is at. Also, as far as covers go, Halestorm has never covered a hip-hop artist and released it, so this song is good experimentation to help them broaden their musical talents. I’m not really a fan of the original song, and I’m not really the biggest fan of the cover either. However, I, the die-hard fan of both Halestorm as well as classic rock and metal, am not the target audience for this cover. This cover is an attempt to draw in new fans, and I approve of Halestorm’s attempt to do this while covering a new genre. This is not a complaint of the song, but merely something that needs to be understood. For what “Heathens” is, it is a very good cover, but it doesn’t appeal to me. My personal tastes gives it a 6/10, but in reality, it is an 8/10.
5) Fell on Black Days, originally performed by Soundgarden. Unfortunately, I have only heard three songs by Soundgarden. I have been meaning to listen to them for the past three years, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. However, this song and cover have sped up the amount of time in which it will take me to fully listen to them. This is not the first time Halestorm has covered a Chris Cornell band, I certainly hope it isn’t the last. Once again, Halestorm has managed to maintain the feel and spirit of the original song while making it sound like Halestorm, and that’s exactly what is needed. I was originally going to give this song a bad review for not doing anything with the song, but then I asked myself why that was the case. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing utterly spectacular going on because there doesn’t need to be. There are some instances where changing up the genre works like gangbusters, and there are some instances where it fails completely. It takes a skilled ear to know when to experiment vs knowing when to play it safe, and Halestorm made the right call here. I’m sure it is possible to make an original cover that re-imagines “Fell on Black Days,” but it would have to be either the biggest knock-out of the year or else it is going to fail. Thank heavens Halestorm knows their limits. 9/10.
6) Ride the Lightning, originally performed by Metallica. Metallica has been my favorite band since my junior year of high school and seeing them live for the first time in August only cemented their place in my hierarchy of bands. Depending on what day you ask, I will say “Ride the Lightning” is my favorite Metallica song “(Sad But True,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Spit Out the Bone” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” are the others I might say). So when I heard Halestorm was covering arguably my favorite song by my absolute favorite band, I was equally excited and worried. Since Halestorm is rock and Metallica is metal, I was worried that crossing genres would cause this cover to fall short. More often than not, metal guitarists are more talented than rock guitarists, and because of that, metal guitarists can usually play down to rock music, but not vice versa. Keeping all of that in mind, Halestorm shut down all of that worry and hit it out of the park. I have no idea how, but Halestorm managed to make this song rock just as hard as the original, and that is no small compliment from me. Lzzy and Joe’s guitars take on the behemoth that is the “Ride the Lightning” guitar riff and absolutely kill it. However, more impressively, the very underrated guitar solo is played note for note and absolutely nothing is missed. I should also mention that Lzzy’s vocals are just as amazing as ever, but they bring a new element to the song. James Hetfield’s voice is not bad, but it’s not the reason you to Metallica. Lzzy is a more talented vocal artist than he, and because of that, her voice brings out the anguish and extreme terror the person in the song is feeling. While “Still of the Night” best exemplifies Lzzy’s range, this song shows off her talent in other ways. This is easily my favorite cover of this EP, and arguably my favorite cover of all time. 10/10.