Bad Wolves could make a case for being the fastest rising rock band within the last five years. The name might ring a bell if you have heard their cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” which currently has more than 131 million views on YouTube.
It would have had Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan contributing guest vocals had she not passed away on the day she was due to record.
The 1994 hit already contained significant meaning as it was written as a protest song about the Irish battle for independence.
The rerecording gives it modernized meaning, with the lyrics indicating that the current state of affairs in the world is ‘the same old theme in two thousand eighteen.’
The band is consisted of singer Johnny Vext, lead guitarist Doc Coyle, rhythm guitarist Chris Cain, drummer John Boecklin and bassist Kyle Konkiel. Even with a group of veteran musicians from bands such as DevilDriver, In This Moment and God Forbid, it is surprising Bad Wolves have gotten successful. Supergroups, more often than not, have a tendency to not live up to the hype of their individual members’ billing (e.g. Audiotopsy or Chickenfoot).
Over the summer they released their debut record Disobey, a title that should come as no surprise. The lyrical content ranges from topics such as police violence in “Officer Down,” substance abuse in “Remember When” and governmental power in “The Conversation.”
Musically, the instrumentation sounds like a cross between Periphery and Chimaira. The guitar tone is almost djent-like, with absurdly downtuned riffage that tries its hardest to punch through your stereo system.
Boecklin’s drumming, as expected, is one of the album’s highlights. His drumming is varied and powerful, and he throws in various death metal-inspired blast beats and off-beat polyrhythmic fills throughout the album. Konkiel’s bass is prominent in the mix and he provides a solid backbone for the rest of the instrumentation.
Vext has one of the best voices in the modern rock and metal scene, and provides countless powerful choruses throughout the album. He has an impressive range that goes from vicious growls to booming and intense cleans.
In fact, he was pegged to fill in for singer Ivan Moody during Five Finger Death Punch’s 2017 European tour, when Moody stepped away from the band to attend rehab.
While there is a lot to like from this record and it has a lot of fun songs, overall it just feels generic, both from the album art and from looking at the record as a whole.
After repeated listens a lot of the songs blend together, no matter the individual highlights of certain tracks. Aside from the single “Toast to the Ghost,” there are no tracks on this album that really stand out from each other.
Therein lies the principal problem with Disobey. While Bad Wolves is so much more than their Cranberries’ cover, it cannot be denied that on Spotify, “Zombie” has more listens than the rest of the album combined (65 million to 26 million).
No matter the medium, that is a wild disparity. There is a realistic chance that years from now Bad Wolves will simply only be known as that band that covered “Zombie.”
Does that mean it’s not worth a listen? Absolutely not. There is a lot of raw energy and intensity on this record. Keep an eye out for their next one.
Parker’s Picks: “Toast to the Ghost,” “Jesus Slaves,” “No Masters,” “Run For Your Life”