Bad Wolves have recently made a name for themselves with their first 2018 hit, a cover of The Cranberries’ song “Zombie”. Even those that aren’t fans of the rock/metal genre have said something about the band’s interpretation of the track, with thousands and even millions of streams/downloads giving the band the momentum to reach the top of Spotify’s Global Viral Chart, the top-selling rock release and most downloaded song of 2018 stateside, and the video even bringing in 33 millions views in about three weeks (and still counting). While I’m all about bands gaining a much needed push in attention to help get their new albums out the door, only a few of these bands are able to “walk the walk” so to speak once it reaches the masses.
While their hit definitely piqued my interest, I did a bit more research underneath all the hype to find out that the band is technically a supergroup of sorts, bringing together vocalist Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy, drummer John Boecklin (ex-Devildriver), guitarists Doc Coyle (Vagus Nerve, ex-God Forbid) and Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead), and bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-In This Moment). Just reading about this immediately made everything click. The push of press, the quality of production, but most of all hearing the Tommy belt out the vocals brought back the days of when he sung for Divine Heresy on the album Bleed The Fifth. While it wasn’t the most prominent album to stand out during that year, it stuck in my mind after all this time to be dug up by this out-of-nowhere debut.
Disobey equals out to about an hour’s worth of music, easily overtaking the average length for most albums nowadays, including the more popular rock and metal varieties. It is a mashup of two of their recently released EPs (titled False Flags, Volume One and Two), each containing four songs as well as a few singles. Technically, most of the album can already be heard on streaming services. Honestly, hearing their debut in its entirety is a lot easier to deal with then constantly searching in their respective pages and clicking on songs.
Regardless of what angle they’re going for with the release of their music, what really matters is quality. Does it match up to all the hype that surrounds them after breaking out with their “Zombie” hit, or is it more or less a one trick pony show?
Bad Wolves mess around with a few ideas, mixing a metalcore foundation with the popular strains of heavy metal and hard rock, and sprinkling in a bit of progressive influence. The album hits broad concepts of today’s society, personal struggles, and all ideas in between. These expressions are easy to decipher especially in songs like “Officer Down” and “Remember When”. This feeds into the songwriting aspect of the album. It feels pretty simple in terms of lyrics, but Tommy Vext is able to put it up on a grander scale with his impressive range. I feel his strengths are in his cleans but his growls and shrieks aren’t anything to ignore either. The struggle with me here is the balance of the “popular music” tag that falls onto some rock/metal acts that want to get out of the underground. Some songs just get too repetitive but sound really good if you can ignore that little bit.
Instrumentally, Bad Wolves are above the cut when compared to bands of similar popularity. They implement heavy riffs in all the right spots, but know when to take it back and give a song an identity of gentleness and ambience. Every track is different yet cohesive to the overall sound of what the group is going for. They hit ballad-like songs with ease but will crush in your skull and chest with breakdowns that seem like they last for days in instances. The diversity is crazy good here. While I do appreciate the plethora of songs given to the listener, it can be pretty daunting with the number of songs. Shortening the next album wouldn’t be a bad idea and could be crazy good for replayability.
The verdict stands that Bad Wolves are looking to make an impression in any and all places they can. They are seeking to make a huge statement and Disobey will do just that for them. Fans of their “Zombie” rendition may be torn as it doesn’t truly represent who they are as a whole, but those that are looking for something heavy or even something to break from the norm, it’s here with these guys. I think once they branch out lyrically and try to challenge themselves more in that regard, they’ll gain an even bigger audience outside of their current circles. Tightening up this aspect as well as focusing on less quantity could really help their chances on their sophomore album being a huge hit as well. This is an album to look out for on release date, as it could easily destroy the competition.