While its pedigree suggested potential success, few can honestly say they would have expected the young metal supergroup BAD WOLVES to blow up to the extent that it has. And, in a sense, it did so before the race even began with its heartfelt version of THE CRANBERRIES‘s classic “Zombie”. The association between the song and the new metal band’s success is unfortunately bittersweet as it is scarred by tragedy. The 1994 hit already embodied significant meaning. “Zombie” was actually written as a protest song about the Irish battle for independence, but what followed the new metallic rendition’s recording gave it new meaning as well. THE CRANBERRIES singer, Dolores O’Riordan, was so impressed by the rebooted version that she was gearing up to head into a London studio earlier this year to contribute vocals. Unfortunately, the 46-year-old nineties icon was found dead in her London hotel room on the very day she was going to track vocals. Admirably, the band will be donating all proceeds from the single to O’Riordan‘s three kids. The song—and subsequently the band’s debut, “Disobey”—has been topping charts the world over.
BAD WOLVES formed in 2017, but the group is anything but an overnight success story. The ensemble is the creative marriage of former members of GOD FORBID, SNOT, DIVINE HERESY, DEVILDRIVER, IN THIS MOMENT and BURY YOUR DEAD. The members have pressed their noses to the grindstone since coming together, though. The signature traits of the individual musicians involved are clearly present, but BAD WOLVES isn’t a replica of any of their previous outfits. The unit’s impressive talent has converged to a creative meeting point that is a tasteful mixture of sounds we’ve heard before into a unique blend of contemporary hard rock and heavy metal that is as accessible and catchy as it is vitriolic and energetic. Facilitating the commercial appeal is, of course, the verse/chorus/verse structuring and the prominence of Tommy Vext‘s soaring melodic vocals. In simple terms, there is a greater focus upon his “good cop” melodic capabilities rather than his “bad cop” screaming. These conventional aspects lend to the instant gratification the band’s music provides.
The frontman’s undeniable talents shine throughout, yet the entire lineup—rounded out by drummer John Boecklin (ex-DEVILDRIVER), bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-IN THIS MOMENT), and guitarists Doc Coyle (VAGUS NERVE, ex-GOD FORBID) and Chris Cain (ex-BURY YOUR DEAD)—provides impressive performances and they all contribute to what is a fantastic debut that has already garnered them attention from a diverse audience. BAD WOLVES is so much more than “that band that covers ‘Zombie’.”
The slow, heavy crawl of “No Masters” is an impressive stroke of musicianship that combines pop-like melodies with heavy metal thunder. Whether the group is one’s cup of tea or not, the quintet clearly takes its own path without aping the creativity of others. And from the onset, “Run For Your Life” is but one example of how the group doesn’t waste time with its music. It’s instantly gripping, heavy both sonically and in terms of emotion. And sure, it’s immediately appealing, yet it’s also loaded with nuance and interesting guitar work throughout with obvious progressive tendencies. Elsewhere, “Better Than The Devil” reveals some of the band’s hip-hop influences, not simply with the rapping but also with the interesting musical phrasing. This carries forth on a track like “Jesus Slaves” as well, a pummeling song boasting some interesting off-kilter beats courtesy of Boecklin.
“Disobey”, essentially a sandwiching of the material from the unit’s two EPs, is a lengthy debut that’s roughly an hour long. But it doesn’t feel as though it drags. There’s a lot to take in, but it is time worth spent. There has been a massive void on the contemporary side of heavy music in recent times. BAD WOLVES is poised to move in for the kill.