Album: Halfway to Hell
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Standout Tracks: “Dead Man’s Parade,” “Cold,” and “Store Bought Halo”
When I sat down to write this review of Lynam’s 2013 release entitled Halfway to Hell, I found it very difficult for two reasons. First, I’ve been a fan for nearly six years, so my natural inclination is to compare/contrast the EP with Lynam’s other albums, and that would tell absolutely nothing to anyone not familiar with the band. Second, I have established a friendship with Lynam over those six years…and that makes it harder to be objective. But here it is.
An all-encompassing “this record is great” doesn’t really begin to cover it. This album is darker (in its subject matter, at any rate) and heavier than anything Lynam has done before–and it is absolutely magnificent. With the addition of Lonny Paul, who was in Adler alongside vocalist/guitarist/main songwriter Jacob Bunton, the band has reached new levels. I personally believe that Lonny’s input was just what they needed; a fresh perspective that lit a spark in not only Jacob, but drummer David Lynam and bassist Mark Dzier as well. Their influences (all things 80’s) are still evident, but there’s a touch of something else, too. Something that I would call “purely Lynam.”
The EP opens with “Rise Up.” Have you ever heard someone say that certain songs make them want to drive fast? Well, this is that song. The instant it begins, the volume has to be cranked up. A call to anyone who is “so sick of it all,” the song is appropriately fast-paced and angry. The drums beg for listeners to pump their fists and stomp their feet. Plus, let’s be honest, how can you not love any song that encourages its audience to “get your fingers up”? This one will undoubtedly be a huge crowd pleaser at live shows.
“Halfway to Hell” is fun with a catchy chorus, but it is the third track on the album, “Dead Man’s Parade,” that immediately stood out to me. There is nothing I don’t like about this song. The entire 2:49 is a carnival ride complete with an attention-grabbing groove, low gritty vocals, and a short sweet guitar solo thrown in as icing on the cake.
Next is “Cold.” Slower and more melodic, this is definitely another high point on the album. The only words for Jacob’s crooning are “beautiful” and “shiver-inducing.” The music itself is rock-and-roll at its most straightforward, until the 2:50 mark, when the guitar solo is reached. This particular solo offers a taste of what Jacob can do and, luckily, the following track showcases even more of his talent.
“Store Bought Halo” is the shortest of the six songs, yet it quite possibly packs the biggest punch. From start to finish, this song seizes you by the balls and refuses to let go. It’s dirty, it’s sleazy, it’s everything great about glam rock/hair metal mixed with the relentlessness of punk. The simple chorus that you can chant along with, some seriously awesome shredding, the fast-paced beat, and the driving rhythm add up to make this one of the best songs on the album and another that will surely go over well when included on Lynam’s set list.
Finally, the album closes with “Wrong Side of the Grave.” As if the title didn’t give it away, this song has a darker feel to it. The unholy growl/scream in the intro serves to enhance this vibe. The guitar solo bleeds into a breakdown, complete with a chant of “Hey!” that gives this song an anthemic quality. Despite being the last track, “Wrong Side of the Grave” does not feel like an end and undoubtedly leaves the listener wanting more.
If this EP is a sign of things to come, I couldn’t be more excited.