ALBUM REVIEW: Disobey – Bad Wolves (2018)

Bad Wolves Disobey Cover 2018

About Bad Wolves

Bad Wolves is a heavy metal "supergroup" from Los Angeles consisting of Tommy Vext (former vocalist of Divine Heresy and Snot), Kyle Konkiel (former bassist of In This Moment and Vimic), John Boecklin (former drummer of DevilDriver), Doc Coyle (former lead guitar of God Forbid), and  Chris Cain (former guitar player for Bury Your Dead and For The Fallen Dreams).

They released their first two singles in 2017 — "Learn To Live" and "Toast To The Ghost." These singles were released in May 2017 and November 2017, respectively.

They received a great deal of radio time with their third single, a cover of "Zombie" by The Cranberries. The track was originally supposed to feature the Irish band's lead singer Dolores O'Riordan, but she unexpectedly passed in January 2018 before the track was recorded. In response, Bad Wolves released the cover and will be giving all proceeds of the song to O'Riordan's children. Pretty awesome, right?

Following the band's rise up the charts with "Zombie," Bad Wolves released their first LP, Disobey, in May 2018 and are currently on tour supporting the album.

Track-By-Track Analysis of Disobey

Track 1: Officer Down

"Officer Down" is a very compelling song outlining the struggles police go through. It's taking a look at the other side of the police many people might not see or take the time to see and respect. That's what I thought until I actually read the lyrics, and now, I'm getting the very opposite vibe.

"I’m sayin’ hands up, don’t shoot, And no finger on the trigger ain't afraid of truth."

This line, in particular, confused me, but once I got to the chorus, it

"Another case and acquittal, Another wife turned a widow."

On top of that, the chorus ends with the line, "Another officer down." 

So just from my first listen, it's really hard to determine what this song is talking about. Is it from an officer's point-of-view, or is it from a shooter's point-of-view? I guess it's up to the listener to determine what story is being told in "Officer Down."

For me, the lyrics get lost in the instrumentals anyways, so I'm not sure this was the best track to start a debut album with, especially with the subject of the song.

Track 2: Learn To Live

From the start of the track, you know "Learn To Live," the lead single of the album, is going to be a heaving song. The hard-hitting double bass pedal of drummer John Boecklin pushes the song forward, but if you really dive into the lyrics, it's got a lot of meaning behind it too. "Learn To Live" is certainly a song that acts as a guide to getting through a mundane life.

"Slave away, it's just another day
It's just another day without meaning
Blue to gray, another bill to pay
Until you die under a glass ceiling

Gas prices rise, we numb our feelings
Monetized and bipolarized
By the drugs that they've been dealing"

I know we can all relate to paying bills, dealing with rising has prices, and people profiting other people's misery.

What I really love about this song is the syncopation of the vocals during the verses. It's one aspect of music that doesn't get a lot of love outside of metal and rap. I loved what they did with the verses.

Now, I think the choruses are weaker than the verses with it mostly references the title of the song.

"You better learn to fucking live"

However, it certainly complements the song's verses, which really holds the meaning to the song. I can definitely see this song being a favorite when Bad Wolves play it in concert. Overall, it's a good debut single, but it was definitely overshadowed by the band's cover of The Cranberries' "Zombie."

Track 3: No Masters

I'll be honest, the instrumentals are great in this song. It has the perfect mix of metal and hard rock, but the meat of the song is all in the lyrics.

The second verse is where you can really start to hear the underlying theme.

"They're screaming left right, left right
Fists in the air you better pick a side
Against the plutocracy"

Just for clarification, the definition of plutocracy is "a country or society governed by the wealthy." Do I need to say more?

"No Masters" is Bad Wolves' politically-driven number and it's really preaching the "every man for himself" mantra that many people who oppose President Donald Trump and his administration.

"So take these
Chains from me
Break these bastards
The'res no masters here
In the end
Break these bastards
There's no masters here"

I really like the song because they cleverly don't give away their own political beliefs, and keep it at a very broad spectrum of everyone. I see it as a song saying the only ones who can make decisions for us is ourselves.

During my first listen of the song, I initally thought this song would have been one of the singles, but I was surprised when I learned it was not.

Track 4: Zombie

"Zombie" is by far the strongest song on Disobey. This cover is going to be played for many years to come because it's very well done. It captures a heavy view of the song originally released in 1994. Bad Wolves even added a different version of the second pre-chorus.

"It's the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they're still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their guns, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are dying" 

I know for fact Bad Wolves' cover of "Zombie" will be one of, if not the most, well-known song recorded by the band, and will be a staple on hard rock radio stations everywhere.

Track 5: Run For Your Life

This song starts off a lot softer than previous tracks, but it goes right into a loud scream just a few seconds after the interesting opening guitar riff.

The lyrics really don't add up to me. There's definitely a disconnect between the verses, which talk about working hard and back pain, but the choruses are pretty much made up of the line, "Run for your life" and really doesn't get more in-depth than that.

"Run For Your Life" is definitelty, in my opinion, a filler song.

Track 6: Remember When

"Remember When" is a softer song than many of the songs earlier in the album. It has a strong bass presence (not bass guitar) and it very much follows the "small verse, big chorus" structure. However, the music itself doesn't really get me excited.

From a lyrical perspective, it's very much about reminscing about the songwriter and another person. It might be a friend or a brother, but it was definitely about someone the songwriter looked up to and was a role model.

Long story short, I think it's a well written song, but I think it just doesn't fit with the first five songs on the album.

Track 7: Better Than Devil

At this point of the album, Bad Wolves is starting to lose me from a lyrical perspective. There's a lot of mentions of suicide, but I don't find any connection between the verse and chorus. The chorus feels forced and not all together.

"Better than the devil when you said it
But you never want to give a little credit (Dead)
Better to the devil you'd forget it
What you didn't know ya going regret it (Dead)
Better than the devil when you said it
But you never want to give a credit (Dead)
Better to the devil you'd forget it
What you didn't know ya going regret it (Dead)"

I just don't see why the songwriter is so distraught by not getting credit. Maybe I'm missing the point, but lyrically, this song was forgettable to me.

Track 8: Jesus Slaves

Musically, I'm a fan of "Jesus Slaves." It starts out very heavy and then lightens up once the verse comes in, and when the chorus hits, it's even heavier. The music is driven by the double bass pedal. Then again, that's how most of the songs from Bad Wolves are. The bridge is great, and the singing is on par.

I've noticed throughout the first eight songs on Disobey it gets more and more metalcore-like.

Track 9: Hear Me Now (featuring Diamante)

I was surprised to read "Hear Me Now" has not been released by the band as a single. Featuring female rock vocalist, Diamante, this song very much gave me that mainstream rock vibe. However, Diamante is only in the song briefly, and kind of ends abruptly.

Track 10: Truth Or Dare

I thought the lyrics of "Truth Or Dare" would be a lot more creative. I just didn't see much truth or dare in the song. The verses gave me more of a vibe of temptation, BDSM, and pleasure.

Verse 1

So much pressure it makes you sick
Scabs on your skin that you just can't itch
On the back of your tongue with a mouth full of sand
Beg for attention, trace of respect 

Verse 2

"So much pleasure your body aches
Lips on your skin till it makes your shake
In a room full of crosses where do we begin
Welcome to detention repent for your sins"

I've noticed lyrical disconnection is running theme of the album, and might show the immaturity of the band and/or songwriter.

Track 11: The Conversation

"The Conversation" has a lot of heavy parts and highlights how well the band plays so tightly together on the album. However, this song is not very memorable and clearly is a filler song leading up to the final song, "Toast To The Ghost."

Track 12: Shape Shifter

To be completely honest, "Shape Shifter" failed to grab my attention and I thought it was still a part of the previous song, "The Conversation."

The second half of Disobey has been very flat compared to the first half of the album, which included the cover of "Zombies."

Track 13: Toast To The Ghost

"Toast To The Ghost" is my favorite original song from Disobey. It captures all of the sounds from Bad Wolves, including their metalcore roots, the hard rock and live performance vibe, and one of the best breakdowns to end an album that I know of.

I can only imagine the pits that open up when the band plays this song!

My Final Thoughts

Overall, Disobey felt very much like a debut album. With only two or three songs that really stood out to me. "Hear Me Now" and "Learn To Live" are good original songs, but if it wasn't for the band's cover of "Zombie," Bad Wolves wouldn't be where they are now co-headlining a tour with From Ashes To New before opening for Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, and Nothing More this summer.