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Bad Wolves - 'Disobey' Album Review


1. Officer Down

2. Learn To Live

3. No Masters

4. Zombie

5. Run For Your Life

6. Remember When

7. Better The Devil

8. Jesus Slaves

9. Hear Me Now

10. Truth Or Dare

11. The Conversation

12. Shape Shifter

13. Toast To The Ghost

Bad Wolves have released their debut album, however they collectively are not new comers to the Metal scene. They, consists of frontman, Tommy Vext (previously from Divine, Heresy and Snot), drummer John Boecklin (previously from Devildriver), guitarist Doc Coyle (previously from Vagus, Nerve and God Forbid), guitarist Chris Cain (previously from Bury Your Dead) and bassist Kyle Konkiel (previously from In This Moment).

Unless you have been living in a cave, shunning the outside world, you will know that the band have had some pretty serious airplay, having covered 'Zombie' by The Cranberries. So I intend to come to that last, so as not to detract from the rest of the review.

If however you assume that the aforementioned cover is typical of the Bad Wolves then boy are you in for a shock! The debut album has a full 13 tracks on it, and I believe that the vinyl version has an extra 3. The digital version that I reviewed came in at 49 minutes long, which is pretty good in this day and age for a debut release. So is this album Nu Metal, Heavy Metal, Death Metal or Mainstream? I think it is all of the above, and mixes styles and sub genres with relative ease. Who says you have to be just one genre?

The opener, 'Officer Down' starts with heavy reverb and Djent riffs that convey sirens. Tommy Vext growls through the first verse, before delivering a controlled vocal in the chorus which is direct opposition to the brutal guitar licks and bassline. The track kicks you in the eardrums and is an indictment on racially aggravated police brutality. The rage continues through 'Learn To Live', which is a far fuzzier track. The album is predominantly full of brutal rage filled tracks such as 'Better The Devil' which starts with heavy reverb which contrast between the gentle vocal at the start that proceed into snarl and growl as the track builds like an tsunami to make your ears bleed before it abruptly ends, before there is lasting medical damage. 'Jesus Saves' turns the amps up to notch 11 and is darkness personified. The final track 'Toast To The Ghost' ends the album as it started with abject rage and reverb with great lyrics such as 'A toast to the ghosts in our home, still alive, gave all they had for a flag, But the dream has died'

However there are also tracks with accomplished and intricate composition. 'No Masters' is melodic in its anti authoritarian message. 'Run For Your Life' has stuttering guitar licks, matching the drums and bass providing a galloping rhythm. 'Truth Or Dare' rises and falls and although there is a wall of sound you can pick out delicate touches such as tickling of the cymbals. 'The Conversation' is one of the stand outs for me. It has intricate layers, fast tempo, snarling and toned vocals, and rage filled clever lyrics such as 'Media fought with the duplicity, controlled by machines of the all inc of here, the drug warrant raided the land of the free, while plotting the death of a democracy'. Then there is 'Shape Shifter' where Chris Cain's guitar shines. The bass and drums are heavy and pounding but the riffs and progressions are sublime on this.

Finally there are the tracks that have radio airplay written all over them. 'Remember When' is obviously a song borne out of experience and is a great bit of story telling 'You started slinging coke and got the dopest pair of shoes, But yo this house just ain't a home, Since our father hit the bottle and our mother hit the road'. 'Hear Me Now' is a Power Ballad. The die hard Metal fans will tell you there is no place for a ballad, but I disagree. There is great tone and control in Tommy Vexts voice. The stand out is the percussion supplied by John Boecklin. The guitars and bass are playing supporting acts. at just over 3.43 minutes this has got airplay written all over it.

Then there is 'Zombie'. I said I would get to it. This has quite rightly had an enormous amount of airplay for many reasons. I don't normally like covers of bands that I really like, and The Cranberries are one of the bands that I really like. This song in particular is about the troubles in their native Ireland, so another reason why it should not work. But the Bad Wolves have changed the emphasis and brought it bang up to date and a global anti war song. 'It's the same old thing since 1916' has been changed to 'It's the same old theme in 2018' and 'And their bombs and their guns' has been changed to 'And their bombs and their drones'. The musical arrangement is brilliant, and the guitar solo is about as sweet as you will ever hear. So the track was always going to stand out. However, the fact that Delores O'Riordan died suddenly at the London Hilton on 15 January 2018, at the age of 46, while in London for a recording session, and that, that, recording session was to lay vocals on this, a remaking of her iconic track, has meant that this will probably be the main track that the Bad Wolves will be remembered for. The gesture to donate all proceeds to her children is a fitting reminder of the power and compassion of music and musicians.

So some will think that 'Disobey' is to heavy, some will think it's too light. I, like Goldilocks, think it is just right. There is darkness, there is rage, there is destructive power, there is gentle empathy. The album is predominantly heavy and layered but there is also light and simplicity. There is even a Ballad, but through it all the band are tight, they are working in perfect sync, even within the apparent chaos, and Tommy Vext has a powerful yet controlled vocal talent that puts this above the run of the mill Metal album. It breaks the rules, but as the title suggests, who says that obedience is the rule.

Review - Tony Creek

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