The Strange Case of … (Best of 2012 — Part 10)

Halestorm

The final album in my Top Ten for 2012 is Halestorm’s The Strange Case of …, on which Lzzy Hale showcases her stadium-calibre rock voice and her split personality (“Mz. Hyde“): just as the album title alludes to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the theme here is how a jaded maneater’s tough outer shell (tracks 1-4 and tracks 8-12) encases a true romantic hidden inside (tracks 5-7: the thermonuclear love ballads “Beautiful With You”, “In Your Room”, and “Break In”). This meta-concept album thereby allows Lzzy to showcase her softer side and reveal how her well-rounded, multifaceted rock talent has her destined for mega-stardom.

It’s been a massive year for Halestorm and they’re ending 2012 with a bang! It was just announced that the group and their song ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ off of their latest album ‘The Strange Case Of…’ were nominated in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category for the upcoming 55th annual Grammy Awards, taking place Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles.

The accolades for Lzzy and her band are well-deserved. Her talent even registered on (my fave) Mike Portnoy‘s radar, as this year Lzzy sang with Adrenaline Mob on their impressive Omertà album, doing guest vocals on the track, “Come Undone” (which is a hilariously deadly reworking of the Duran Duran song).

I had reserved the last slot on my 2012 Top Ten list for Soundgarden’s new album, King Animal. But in the end, the album just didn’t make the cut. Carl has a great review of the album, and his analysis of the lyrics (through the lens of T.S. Eliot!) will no doubt have me revisiting the album in the months to come and reconsidering, since I pretty much paid attention only to the music and not to the lyrics. Hence it was the absence of killer guitar solos on King Animal that led me to give it the boot. That whole anti-guitar solo grunge mentality is too anti-prog in my books, and therefore a fatal flaw.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Chris Cornell fan, but I like his Audioslave oeuvre the best, as well as his solo work. (Where does Soundgarden ever have the left-field magical moments of Audioslave’s Tom Morello guitar solos?) And I note that Carl’s review of King Animal spends way more time referencing great Audioslave moments than it does King Animal! For me, that was just confirmation that I was right to give Soundgarden the boot from my Top Ten.

For a while, The Cult’s unexpectedly amazing 2012 disc, Choice of Weapon (be sure to buy the bonus track version at the same price), was a strong contender for my Top Ten, thanks to standout tracks like “Lucifer”, “A Pale Horse”, “The Wolf”, and “For the Animals”. Only because The Cult is the band from the past and Halestorm is the band from the future do I give the nod to Lzzy over Ian. But both albums are solid, upper-echelon material.

I also toyed with the idea of putting Adrenaline Mob’s Omertà in the last slot of my Top Ten, because it has some tremendously accomplished metal. Mike Orlando’s guitar solos are astonishing, especially when combined with Mike Portnoy’s drumming. But the album is also a mixed bag. I found that I would carve it up into an EP for my playlists, because the only tracks that could consistently hold my musical interest were “Indifferent”, “All on the Line”, “Feelin’ Me”, “Come Undone”, and “Believe Me”.

So Omertà had to get the boot because it wasn’t solid from front to back. Yet by giving the final slot in my Top Ten to Halestorm, I get the best of both worlds — because Adrenaline Mob still gets paid an indirect tribute by way of my choice, thanks to their own recognition of Lzzy’s amazing talent (via “Come Undone”).

Halestorm

2012 has been a great year for music! A big thank you to all my fellow Progarchists for sharing their musical experiences here, thereby expanding my own.

I’ll see you back here on New Year’s Day, when I will reveal the name of my fave EP from 2012 — since EPs do not count towards the Top Ten list, which (in good prog fashion) I always dedicate to the recognition of the best contributions towards the keeping alive of The Art of the Album (and we all know who wins the top title for 2012 in that regard — Best Album of the Year).