May 9, 2018 Bad Wolves – Disobey (Album Review)
You might know this Heavy Metal supergroup for their passionate rendering of The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” a cover that has amassed them some 50 million views and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart as well as on iTunes overall songs chart. Fortunately, Bad Wolves ain’t no cover band, and they make their glorious debut, Disobey, on Friday, May 11, 2018, thanks to Eleven Seven Music.
Formed in 2017, the Metal supergroup – with former members of Devildriver, In This Moment, Snot, God Forbid, and Bury Your Dead – don’t have an extensive back-catalogue of work as Bad Wolves, but they have certainly spent their time shredding stages across the world throughout their individual careers. Their two previous EPs – 2018’s False Flags, Volume 1 and False Flags, Volume 2 – have set a standard for the band’s material, proving to fans that this is no snooze-worthy, rest-on-your-merits supergroup. Managed by Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch, Bad Wolves promise keen and biting sociopolitical commentary that rests alongside incendiary sonics that will blow your speakers!
Recorded at various studios with three producers – including Kane Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, In This Moment) who mixed “Remember When” and “Zombie” – Disobey is a collection of songs that sees this group of Los Angeles music veterans stretching out and exploring sonic space they have never veered into in the past. The 13-song album weaves together varying influences and a multitude of intelligent lyrical commentaries, crafting a message that underlies its blistering, seething, complex Metal core. Here, Bad Wolves – Vocalist Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy, ex-Snot), Guitarists Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid) and Chris Cain (ex-Bury Your Dead), Bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-In This Moment), and Drummer John Boecklin (ex-Devildriver) – prove that they rock far beyond the sum of their individual parts.
Djent-y bass and guitars begin the cavalcade of Disobey with “Officer Down,” with its soaring melodic choruses and Speed Metal-meets-Rap verses; this bizarre concoction of sounds equals something unique and decidedly heavy. Lyrically, this is an exploration of recent news headlines, be they pro or anti men in blue, trying to bring some humanity back to the discussion, proving that all lives matter. Next, they continue the blistering speed and unique amalgamation of sounds for “Learn To Live,” a promise that life can tear you apart at the seams, baby, if you don’t do exactly what the title suggests.
Bad Wolves choose to go super bass-tastic for the chain-shedding “No Masters,” a full-blooded rocker full of melody, catchy hooks and one soaring guitar solo. This all leads to the band’s beautifully passionate yet still thoroughly rocking cover of The Cranberries’ classic “Zombie,” bittersweet no matter how you slice it. The beautiful protest song’s cover would have featured Dolores O’Riordan herself – who is reported to have called this recording “killer” – though she sadly passed on to the next life before she could record with Bad Wolves in the studio. In tribute to her memory, Bad Wolves are donating all proceeds from the single to O’Riordan’s four children.
Cranking the Marshalls back up to eleven, the boys go for jackhammering, sludgy riffage on “Run For Your Life,” before glancing backward – to an exceedingly troubling patch in Vext’s personal life – with melodic rocker “Remember When.” Almost immediately, they amp to pummeling for the Djent-y speed of “Better The Devil” and “Jesus Slaves.” Prepare for your brain to melt down due to the slaughtering latter track, which is probably not going to become highway marquee fodder in, say, Alabama. All joking aside, this killer promise that even Jesus can’t save us is fraught with Vext’s soaring melodies and the band’s full-throttle, incendiary attack.
Power ballad-esque “Hear Me Now” dips the band into sentimental relationship territory, you know, that emotionally lovely stuff. Then, they go for straight-up rocking on “Truth Or Dare” before mixing up the tempo for the slower groove of the despairing “The Conversation.” As they near the finish line, sultry meets mauling inside the evil echoes of “Shape Shifter,” which speaks of a witchy woman, propelling the band toward their epic conclusion. For album closer “Toast To The Ghost,” it all comes together in an explosion of dynamite Metal that dares to question our relentlessly blind pursuit of the “American dream” only to end up phantoms in our own homes.
On Disobey, Bad Wolves have authored a collection of socially-conscious tracks that kick proverbial butt while asking the questions that many so wish to blindly avoid; the end result is an album that pummels and thrashes while still remaining intelligent and hyperalert to the world around us. Furthermore, there is a mixture of heavy sounds here that runs the gamut with dustings of Djent-y Prog Metal to gentle Hip-Hop influences to straight-up rockers, always with a massive glance toward arena-sized, headbanging sounds. Which all means that, ultimately, Bad Wolves are catchy yet slaughtering, embracing big things while thumbing their collective nose at conformity, and that makes Disobey worth checking out. Wondering what good wolves might sound like, CrypticRock give Bad Wolves’ Disobey 4 of 5 stars.