Sometimes when a band reaches an overwhelmingly rapid rate of success, they fall short in trying to keep the momentum going. For Los Angeles based metal band Bad Wolves, that is definitely not the case. Some may have had their doubts as to whether or not Tommy Vext (vocals), John Boecklin (drums), Chris Cain (guitar), Doc Coyle (guitar) and Kyle Konkiel (bass) could achieve anything even close to what they delivered with their debut album Disobey in 2018. That album spawned not one but two platinum singles, most notably their multi-platinum cover of Cranberries’ Zombie. Any such doubters were in for a stunning surprise. On October 25th, Bad Wolves released their sophomore album N.A.T.I.O.N. which has already secured the #2 spot on the iTunes Metal Album Chart and #3 spot on the iTunes Rock Album Charts. The single Killing Me Slowly is at #2 on both the Metal and Rock Song Charts.
While Bad Wolves became most known for their cover of Cranberries song Zombie, the same could be said for the level of raw intensity and vulnerability that make up the band’s original songs. Tracks like Remember When are a direct expression of the trauma lead singer Tommy Vext had gone through. There is an unlimited dose of consistency in the music that they produce and N.A.T.I.O.N. checks all the boxes that fans were hoping it would. This album is locked and loaded with a cocktail of different elements that is every bit as heavy, exuberant and anthemic as the last.
The first song and coincidentally the first single off the album titled I’ll Be There starts off like a ticking time bomb with Konkiel’s hammering bass intro and Vext’s intense vocals that lead into an extremely catchy chorus. There is a heavier tone and unpredictability to this record that continues in the next track No Messiah. Learn To Walk Again seems a bit inspired by The Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace with whom Bad Wolves toured with in 2018 and will be hitting the road again. Killing Me Slowly is reflective of toxic relationships and showcases some deeper emotions. Better Of This Way is the tender heart of the album. The softer side of Bad Wolves hits just as hard as their heavier tracks.
Foe Or Friend brings things back up to speed with kids chanting (think Marilyn Manson’s 2009 hit mObscene) and Vext’s screaming vocals giving it that Bad Wolves signature high energy sound. In the middle of the track, all hell breaks loose with the recording of an aggressive phone message creating a track that will incite a good mosh pit during their live shows. In a twist of musical fate, Sober which was successfully released as one of the four singles from the album offers a more upbeat and pop/rock vibe.
Back In The Days has a lot in common with the song before it with a very similar chorus but offers a sexy groove throughout the song. The Consumerist ramps the record back up to speed and Heaven So Heartless has Vext asking if there’s a way out of the darkness. Crying Game once again hits emotional chords through the passion in Vext’s voice and Coyle’s lead guitar solo. N.A.T.I.O.N. ends forcefully with LA Song, an ode to the band’s hometown. When Vext is screaming intensely about living life in traffic, those of us who also live in Southern California can deeply identify with the frustration in his voice. While this song portrays a lot of cons about life in Los Angeles, in the end it’s all about rolling around like a renaissance, singing and riding around with that LA pride.
N.A.T.I.O.N. punches you in the gut from the moment it starts until the intriguing end. Their formulaic approach to life’s struggles and positive outcomes has worked incredibly well for Bad Wolves creating a strong connection between their songs and their fans. They have proved once again that rock is not dead and it is just getting started, and while there isn’t one standout song like their cover of Zombie, the album as a whole offers many options for fans to pick their new favorite.