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Halestorm: ‘Halestorm’ (Atlantic Records)

Howard Benson (2007 Grammy Awards Producer of the Year nominee) rocks again: Halestorm’s self-titled debut wastes no time in turning it up to 11—the moment you hit Play, you’re full-on in their rock world. Surrounding the firestorm of throbbing drum stomps (Arejay Hale), searing guitar licks (Joe Hottinger) and down-and-dirty bass riffs (Josh Smith) is singer/guitarist Lzzy Hale, whose aggressive, yet somehow very feminine, vocals range from soaring choruses to sexy hooks to dark verses. This mash-up of metal’s contributions to the music world is deftly glued together by mixer Chris Lord-Alge, who is no stranger to this genre. All in all, this is rock ’n’ roll at its finest—if you get the chance, check ‘em out while they’re on tour this spring, with some dates sharing the stage with Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold.

Must Plays: “Better Sorry Than Safe” and “I Get Off”

—Sarah Benzuly