When art can’t be pigeonholed or pinned down, it elevates the very medium itself. BAD WOLVES thrives on that sort of unpredictability, standing confidently at a crossroads between anthemic hard rock infectiousness and thought-provoking technically-charged heavy metal. Think a cross between the mind-numbing musical malevolence of MESHUGGAH and SEVENDUST‘s timeless irresistibility, and you’re halfway there… The vision of ex-DEVILDRIVER co-founder and previous driving force John Boecklin (drums, guitars) and vocalist Tommy Vext (SNOT, DIVINE HERESY, WESTFIELD MASSACRE) as well as Doc Coyle (guitar; GOD FORBID), Chris Cain (guitar; BURY YOUR DEAD), and Kyle Konkiel (bass; VIMIC, IN THIS MOMENT), the group’s full-length debut represents metallic evolution in its purest form.
The result of a musical journey he kicked off in 2014, Boecklin describes the style best.
“We sound like a heavy-slightly prog rock band that tunes low and cuts off most of the fat,” he explains. “Watching FAITH NO MORE on the reunion tour made my thought process change. I was standing there, and it hit me that I don’t want to be in a metal band with screaming all the time. We’re heavy, yet from track-to-track, things change quite a bit.”
“More was revealed, so more was required,” adds Vext. “The overall tonality and approach resonated with me as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a vocalist. I was given a platform to tap into some musical influences I hadn’t yet explored in previous bands. All in all, it was some of the most diverse, original material I’ve gotten to wrap my hands around.”
“In no rush to put together something reminiscent of [his] musical past,” Boecklin quietly wrote over the course of 2015. During summer ’16, he entered AudioHammer Studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis (TRIVIUM, ALL THAT REMAINS) and tracked what would become the group’s debut album.
“Starting from scratch is never easy,” admits Boecklin. “Many musical roads were traveled before getting to what you hear today — it’s trial and error. I kept reminding myself not to do what I’ve done before. Eventually, we started to hear what we wanted.”
Now, the first single, “Learn To Live”, snaps from a chugging polyrhythmic riff into a hummable bridge before colliding with an undeniable refrain that’s impossible to shake and the final scream, “You’d better learn to fucking live.”
“The aim of the song was to basically challenge listeners to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to take personal responsibility for my own happiness?’,” says Vext. “It’s a concept I use in my day-to-day life as a sober life coach. It’s meant to address situational depression, anxiety, and the disconnect from interpersonal relationships as a byproduct of social media addiction.”
Album opener “A Toast To The Ghosts” delivers a searing gut-punch punctuated by sharp succinct fretwork, smart-bomb precise percussion, and another searing vocal performance. Everything culminates on the pensive and punishing “Blood And Bones”. Vext adds, “It’s like an open letter to an abusive relationship partner that no longer serves you or the opposing counterpart. It’s left open to interpretation.”
Defined by a push-and-pull between incalculable instrumentation and soaring melodies, BAD WOLVES will keep listeners guessing and thinking on their path to hard rock and metal supremacy.
“This is something new for me,” Boecklin leaves off. “It’s the most unique drumming I’ve ever done. Tommy has never sounded so good. The songs are much more diverse than anything from our collective past. I’d love for people to take away some sort of connection emotionally. That’s what all of the bands who inspire me do. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”