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DLC Week of 7/20: Hail The Sun and and Nita Strauss ft. Lzzy Hale

Technical proficiency married to clever, catchy songwriting is the name of the game with both Hail The Sun “Mind Rider” and Nita Strauss ft. Lzzy Hale “Through the Noise.” Be sure to pick up this new, shred-fest DLC debuting Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

In early January 2023, progressive alternative quintet Hail The Sun released “Mind Rider,” a compositionally ambitious single that showcases the Chico, California-based group’s considerable virtuosity. Right off the bat, the group is firing on all eight cylinders with lightning-fast guitar lines, driving rhythm with plenty stop-on-a-dime precision, and impressive drum fills and bass flourishes. Amidst the swirling guitars and angular beats, Donovan Melero’s soaring voice is added to the mix at the 15-second mark. Guitarists Aric Garcia and Shane Gann are absolutely on fire throughout the entire track, while John Stirrat (bass) and drummer Allen Casillas are in lockstep as they casually navigate tempo and time-signature changes. After the bridge, at 2:18, we are treated to an impressively lyrical guitar lead that never truly goes away for the remainder of the song, which careens along, powered by the technicality of the playing and Melero’s emotive vocals, before abruptly screeching to a halt at the 3:21 mark. 

The lyrics to “Mind Rider” are certainly vague in nature, but it’s clear that the cut’s protagonist is struggling with decision-making and the consequences of choices made.

“Temptation is all around us and can be magnified at various points of our life,” said Hail The Sun in a statement regarding the single. “Why does it feel so good to give into it, even when we know we shouldn’t? Not sure it is ever worth it, but we live and learn based on our individual moral compasses.”

Hail The Sun cherry-picks from a number of genres and sub-categories, but whether you hear “Mind Rider” as being primarily math-rock, post-hardcore, fusion, progressive, or whatever else, one thing that’s irrefutable is that these folks can seriously *play.* Meshing such virtuosic performances with memorable songwriting, however, is by no means a simple task. Popular music is littered with instrumentalists who dazzle with their physical chops, but never seem capable of crafting songs with enough melodic appeal to connect with a larger audience, but Hail The Sun have cracked the code here. Get ready for a wild ride with this banger!

For shred overlord Nita Strauss, the decision to make half the tracks on her 2023 LP The Call of the Void feature lead vocals was born out of a curiosity to explore other avenues beyond the purely instrumental recordings she had previously released. Amongst the many hard rock and metal heavyweights who lend their skills to the project is acclaimed powerhouse singer Lzzy Hale who appears on “Through the Noise,” a track that is every bit as intricate and complex as fans of Strauss might reasonably expect. "It was really just a natural progression, I think,” the axe master explains. “As an artist, I think you always have to keep growing and pushing yourself. And I didn't wanna stay in the same place and just keep doing the same thing over and over again. I try to do that in every aspect of my career, so this just seemed like the natural next best step."

Kicking off with a treated drum beat, “Through the Noise” soon adds fuzzy, phase-heavy guitar and Hale’s formidable, snarly vocals. An ever-more complex drum line and bass part intensify the vibe until, at the 30-second point, we’re introduced to the hooky, commanding chorus. Strauss adds subtle guitar flourishes to the overall arrangement each time we progress to another verse, to the next refrain. With all due respect to Hale – who delivers a confident, attitude-rich, and pitch-perfect performance – when considering a Nita Strauss song, we’re all waiting for some guitar wizardry and “Through the Noise” absolutely delivers. After a punchy, heavy bridge, at 2:14 our hero lets loose with a solo that puts all other shredders – regardless of gender – on notice. Sweep picking patterns, finger tapping, alternate picking, legato, slides, trills, dive-bombs, string-bending: Strauss does it *all* and with a facility that is truly singular and just… wow. She’s a massive, undeniable talent and if you aren’t already familiar with Nita Strauss’ technical ability and artistry, prepare to be picking your jaw up off of the floor – repeatedly. Following the fretboard gymnastics, the band brings things down for a moment with Hale’s voice over tribal drums, the same guitar tone and riff that began the “Through the Noise,” and the remaining decay of the solo’s final note. From there we revisit the scream-along chorus one final time before the meticulously crafted track comes to a satisfying conclusion at 3:20.

"For me personally, the process for writing an instrumental song is so different to the process of writing a song that's gonna be for a singer,” says Strauss. “And it's really because for an instrumental song there are no rules… the instrumentals I just sort of pour out and the vocal [songs] are more carefully constructed." There’s certainly not a moment wasted in all of “Through the Noise,” so she’s hit upon a winning formula! You’ll be pressing rewind just as soon as this rager’s over, trust me. 

If you’re an admirer of fancy fretwork, but still focusing on guitar idols of the distant past, take notice: there’s a new six-string sheriff in town and her name is Nita Strauss!

Hail The Sun “Mind Rider” and Nita Strauss ft. Lzzy Hale “Through the Noise” are each included in the Season 32 Pass. Pick both up today and enjoy the full season of DLC! Each are available for $1.99 each.

  • Hail The Sun – “Mind Rider”
  • Nita Strauss ft. Lzzy Hale – “Through the Noise”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 7/20: Hail The Sun “Mind Rider” and Nita Strauss ft. Lzzy Hale “Through the Noise”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, July 20th.