LA-based metal band BAD WOLVES are ballers. Metal ballers that is. The five-piece exploded onto the rock scene with their version of ZOMBIE, a cover or a tribute some may say, but IMHO the work is a completely different translation of the original. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much more when I received DISOBEY in my inbox. I doubted that I would even review it. But, if I had gone with my initial thought or reaction, I seriously would have missed out on some of the best music to come out of the City of Angels in years. DISOBEY drops Friday, May 11th from online music sources across the www and you can order from the band’s Facebook page/website as well.
Look for BAD WOLVES on the road this summer with bands like FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, SHINEDOWN, and newcomers FROM ASHES TO NEW (eek!! Personally cannot wait for this tour!!).
The record is stacked after grinding it a couple of times, here’s my take, track by track:
- OFFICER DOWN – right from the start, the girth of the guitars makes my right ear move towards the speakers and the exchange between DOC and CHRIS becomes one entity through the guitars. TOMMY comes in and immediately I am sliding all my chips to the middle; I’ll take my chances while I wait for the flop from the dealer. What’s perfect about this song is the cleanliness of all of the heavy elements and how you want to jump up as the verse begins. STFU – the irony of the opposite is evident with the music and the lyrics. Listen closely. The chorus is clean and smooth like the believable part of any deception.
- LEARN TO LIVE – what a tone on the guitars; it’s like being underwater and someone dropping a bowling ball into the pool, that “thunk” that you can not only hear but feel. I love that boom that will pull you through the verse that reigns and brings you to DOC/CHRIS create the foundation for TOMMY to issue that commandment to live. The chorus is stout and almost perfect. There is some distant chaotic keys/synth in the background that combines with TOMMY’s clean vocals and what a monstrous unclean message it is. What’s up double bass JOHN and the bass guitar magic of KYLE!?
- NO MASTERS – When the mix moves to the center, this song goes straight up to the ceiling. It’s lofty but you’re grounded with the bass line from KYLE. It still doesn’t prevent you from being struck by the electricity of the power that comes from this band. I love the north and south in BAD WOLVES’ sound – those pieces that should act like the ends of magnets and not connect, but they do lock together and stick. I love the guitar sound the “bowng bowng bown bowng” gives a punch to the sternum. Kick ass key change that will give you the chicken skin and then right back to this guitar and bass tone combo that I haven’t quite found a name for yet…but godam!
- ZOMBIE – I played this over and over when it first dropped. Not necessarily because it was a CRANBERRIES cover, I wasn’t a huge fan of the band back in the day – I know, I know, don’t judge. And I’m not being disrespectful here. I do understand the relevance of this song when it was written. It’s not about the cover for me, it’s what BAD WOLVES hear in it and how they translate it to fit their sound. The second chorus is almost too good. I almost don’t believe what I’m hearing. Now, attribute that to the original or BAD WOLVES’ version, I don’t care. It’s fucking phat. There is a reason it’s Number One on the charts. It’s good; musically, lyrically, creatively; all of it.
- RUN FOR YOUR LIFE – here’s where this record turns into a huge winner and goes above just being another metal/alternative/rock record, for me. No secret that these guys aren’t brand new – they’ve all been in bands before. What separate the men from the boys so to speak is how the composition flows, on this and other tracks is kick ass and combines what every hard rock fan adores; grooves, starts and stops of the guitars to meet the beat of the drum while KYLE’s bass echoes the notes in the chords, the screaming, the singing – all of it. There are beats that can’t be from human feet and hands – they’re so fast – JOHN slays the drums! TOMMY’s screams are wicked AF. DOC and CHRIS work the lead and rhythm like two cattlemen work a herd along a trail. Tell me the last 20 seconds of this song don’t make you wanna ram your head against a wall! (Kidding, don’t do that…just a figure of speech, Lovelies).
- REMEMBER WHEN – with the flair of 1992 metal intertwined with the memory of this track, it’s funny what the combo of those two really do for the song. It doesn’t matter who or what the song is really written about, it brings memories of all of the people in our pasts, even if we didn’t have a coke slinging experience, it’s not about the literal…it’s about what’s inferred. Y’all dig? I like how the brakes are applied at the end; almost like you’d shake your head to stop thinking about something to think about something else.
- BETTER THE DEVIL – F*ck! TOMMY brings the beast out on this track. Get ready for it. It builds in the background and then all of a sudden, you’re surprised that this is a tornado that you’re in the middle of and right then you’re dropped back down to the earth; or so the chorus leads you to believe – metaphorically speaking. The last 8 seconds of the song will make your spleen hurt.
- JESUS SAVES – oh ya, does he now? I love the intro, it is like foreshadowing what’s to come or it’s the precursor of BAD WOLVES and their imprint in music; their DNA, if you will. Here’s a track that’s got a sly, foxy little groove to it. The bass creates a wiggle and coupled with the pops of the drums and the slides on the frets, it leads you to the last third of the song that forces you to choose a side…the unclean vocal here is magnificent and almost makes me agree with those screams, almost.
- HEAR ME NOW – I’m really enamored with all of the elements of TOMMY’s voice. I don’t recall this tone or sound with the other bands he was in, I think I would have remembered it? Maybe? Doesn’t matter, I’m hearing it now. This ballad is sweet, light, and dammit if we don’t all want to “be something” to someone, right? It evokes a feeling of sadness, the call and pang of TOMMY’s voice. JOHN’s drumming is absolutely on point and does exactly what percussion is meant to do in a song.
- TRUTH OR DARE – I like the structure of this one too. It goes up and down like a boat that’s just floating and moved only by the energy of the water beneath it. The start and stops that pulse to the sustained notes in the vocal…kapow! The minors are bad to the bone as well. It’s that slight difference that happens in what you’re hearing that keeps you listening. Picking up with a slap and tickle melody to an end that I really didn’t expect, but it works. It’s just like the game truth or dare, it’s the quest of the action; or the quest of the deception.
- THE CONVERSATION – the chorus makes me almost pee my pants. It’s like a gooey brownie that bends and droops, but doesn’t fall, as you pick it up. I don’t know what conversation TOMMY wants to have but if I was on the other end of it, I would listen intently. I f’ing cannot get enough of the dark progression of the chords as they travel through this song. I am a sucker for the minors, I’ll admit it.
- SHAPE SHIFTER – Right from the start, the guitar riff is sick, even EDDIE VH would be jeli of that staccato not to mention the tone that comes from the echo, and where in the hell does that reach in TOMMY’s voice come from? Mother of pearl, it’s like a string is attached from his voice to the pit of my stomach and as he goes up in range, so do the contents of my stomach. The bass isn’t hiding from anyone in this song either, it’s just about that sustained note that is as stout as a strong AF IPA..
- TOAST TO THE GHOST – the warmup of an orchestra; playing a note while everyone tunes, I see that happening within the imagery of this song at the jump. And then what happens next is scripted like the kill scene in a movie; what happens at the chorus is fucking brilliant the mix of the toms at the top and double bass at the bottom, JOHN’s tone fantastic BTW. I love the vocal that drops into the unclean right in front of the guitar melody. Wait for it…as the ghost TOMMY sings about drags you around the bare floor, wherever you are listening. And as the song ends the same note, only really distorted, plays to the fade.
There y’all go! I am super excited to see them on tour and live this summer, not to mention what else this band of brothers can come up with next. I think they have a pretty decent and successful career ahead of them with BAD WOLVES!
Til Next Time – MRML – Cherri