Better Noise Music
2021’s Dear Monsters firmly entrenched US metal outfit Bad Wolves as a band to be respected. With crushingly heavy riffs combined with harmonious beauty, Dear Monsters saw vocalist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz excel in his role as frontman, uniting the band musically with a renewed vigour and sense of purpose.
With the imminent release of its follow-up and fourth studio album Die About It on November 3, Bad Wolves have promised fans an even greater emphasis on growth and experimentation to rival the band’s meteoric rise.
Opening Die About it with a seemingly in fashion intro piece at least Bad Wolves have the gumption to call it for what it is, simply listing the track as Intro.
Gentle guitars with an underlying static greet our ears, Laskiewicz delivering a soulful and emotional opening salvo over a mellow musical passage that sounds exactly as I guess an intro is supposed to.
Until it breaks into a mass of distortion that is magnified greatly as Bad Friend ignites the room with a piercing guitar riff that just oozes sleazy aggression. Drummer John Boecklin sets the bar massively high from the outset, a beautiful eclectic mass of driving force that adds even greater impetus as the song progresses.
Doc Coyle slays his guitar between almost militant vocal precision from Laskiewicz that ebbs and flows from aggressive intent to controlled anger in a sweeping motion commanded by a pulsating rhythm section that seems intent on taking charge.
This is a massive first slab of music offered up by Bad Wolves that takes its foot from your jugular only long enough to allow minimal respite before pressing down even firmer.
I know it’s early days, but I’m pretty much sold already.
The title track pulls back the reigns markedly, stuttering flashes of electronics ushering Laskiewicz into unfamiliar territory with rap-infused vocals threatening to steer this ship further out to sea.
But before facing a mutiny the multi-faceted frontman spirals out of control and into battle with a menacing change of pace that is as much of a shock as it is welcome.
Throw in ample splatterings of cleans amid alternating rap/metal/cries of anguish and Die About It reinforces the band’s earlier claims that they were prepared to get down and dirty on this album.
Savior kicks in more as a rock number but wastes little time in pumping starch into its veins before switching tact again as Laskiewicz elects to showcase his cleans with greater purpose.
What makes Bad Wolves a truly heavy band is the decimating intensity of Boecklin, Coyle and bass player Kyle Konkiel who lock in as one functioning heavy as fuck unit that allows Laskiewicz a vocal scope and freedom often difficult to isolate.
There’s so much going on here that I have no idea where to start, but thankfully the song draws to a close to save me the embarrassment, and we can move on satisfied.
Hungry For Life has a more ambient intro passage that almost borders on R & B.
Instead, it morphs into an evenly structured and more accessible number that proves Bad Wolves can write music for the masses as well.
And what’s more, it actually works.
Often such a shift in momentum part way through an album can come across as forced or contrived but in the hands of Bad Wolves serves more as a segue into whatever metallic slabs of delight they manage to conjure next.
Legends Never Die has an even mellower feel to it, almost in the vein of Nickleback and is already a certain radio hit.
Anthemic, bold and grandiose, Legends Never Die is the kind of tune you listen to as John Wick dodges a myriad of bullets en route to the Towers of salvation, swatting adversities out of the way with one hand while tucking into the all new McCrispy burger with the other.
As in, it is epic to the extreme.
NDA stutters to life with an electronic pulse beating at its core.
It is another silky smooth nod to the finer things in life, accentuating the vocal disparity at Laskiewicz’ disposal. It is almost criminal the amount of strings he has for use in his sonic arsenal, each of which can be manipulated at will.
If I didn’t know any better I would say he is just showing off now, but I’m pretty sure I would be doing the same thing in his position.
An unexpected but beautifully magnificent saxophone intrusion comes out of nowhere and then vanishes just as quickly in one of those did that even just happen moments that only masters of their craft can elicit. And then it returns with even more purpose than before, taking centre stage in a mesmerizing final passage that has left me with goosebumps.
It’s time to Move On and how!
This track just drips nu metal from the chunky guitar riffs to the stuttering musical score and forceful lyrics. It is another massive gear shift and again does not feel forced or out of place.
Fucks me how they do it.
Laskiewicz gets his nu metal on between cleans in an opposing vocal dual with himself that sees neither emerging victorious over the other.
But I also would hate to mess with him when he is angry. If schizophrenia applied in a minimalistic state within a vocalist’s spectrum then Laskiewicz could write his own script. For one of only a handful of times ever it seems a band has not only delivered on a promise to experiment but also emphatically succeeded in harnessing those experimental elements and uniting them into a cohesive strand of musical DNA that defies convention.
If I’m blubbering it’s because this album has so far completely blown me away, and I am a heavy set man so that is not an easy thing to do…
Masquerade has a definite rock sensibility about it, given impetus by the softly sung intro that stays the course despite an early rush of blood by the default metal mechanism that Bad Wolves seem to have set to irregularity.
The music here is at odds with the vocals with a crunching menace setting the tone at conflicting odds with the almost apologetic path taken by Laskiewicz.
Coyle is given his moment to shine – albeit briefly – and he works a tasty section of guitar play into the mix which only serves to invite Boecklin to follow suit.
It’s almost as if each member is literally beating to the tune of their own drum, or guitar, or bass, but still somehow managing to come together in sporadic moments of fluidity that momentarily restores the status quo.
It’s You (2 Months) featuring an artist that goes by the name Killboy is up next and if this guy is a rapper he had want to be pretty fucken good because in my opinion Bad Wolves need not employ the services of outside rap machines when they have someone already adept within their ranks.
And just to make me sound as though I know absolutely nothing about music it turns out Killboy might have his scope directed at Ed Sheeran rather than Puff Daddy.
This is another feel-good hero anthem but is given added impetus when Killboy, who, if I am to believe my ears, is actually a girl.
Now I’m confused and the sonic niceties that accompany this song are doing nothing to aid in my plight. Credit for sticking to the experiment ethos boys, but you can’t win every time.
Turn It Down starts as if it is stating the exact opposite before retreating back into itself and deciding to settle into more comfortable surroundings. Even a tough interior driving this motorcade fails to mask a pretty much by the numbers offering that could admittedly be another of those top-of-the-foodchain-enforced-family-friendly songs.
A wicked breakdown two-thirds through has an almost Bullet For My Valentine feel about it that is enhanced by a shredding guitar solo that has rescued Turn It Down just as my finger was making its way to the skip button.
Nice save boys.
Set You On Fire is most assuredly the token album ballad, complete with piano and shuffling electronics.
But once more as my finger stretched outwards and to the left Bad Wolves offer glimpses of salvation – but not enough to keep me in the game.
For the most part Die About It is pure musical gold. Unpredictable, bold, and, dare I say it, uniquely innovative the album is another massive step into the unknown for Bad Wolves but also one which will most definitely pay dividends now and in the future.
As with all creative canvasses, the propensity for tried and true will always be present, but Bad Wolves have certainly allowed these moments to be minimalistic and almost inconsequential.
Except for dinosaurs like me too set in their ways to appreciate moments of levity when they are presented.
*All reviews in HEAVY are just one person’s opinion of the album. We encourage honesty in reviews but just because our reviewer may or may not like/appreciate an album, that doesn’t mean their opinion is right! We encourage you to have a listen for yourself and make up your own minds!*