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Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N. (Album Review)

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One of the newest names to the scene, Bad Wolves returns this year as supporting act for titans Five Finger Death Punch on their fall tour, and more importantly, with their sophomore album. In 2018, Bad Wolves rocketed to fame following the widespread acclaim for their cover of “Zombie,” released shortly after the untimely passing of the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan. Played incessantly on radio stations around the globe, the name Bad Wolves gained fame with unforeseen momentum, and the nascent super-group was hailed for their fresh and ferocious bite in a tired mainstream rock scene. 

Having earned their platinum from straight out of the gate, Bad Wolves were left with an incredible obstacle in front of them; make the fans that flocked to them in droves stay for another album. With less than two years since their first release, the group announced “N.A.T.I.O.N.” as their post-fame debut, and as the album that would give them the chance to prove themselves as more than just a passing trend. The challenge they faced was a significant one: with new material, they must stand out and distant themselves from being categorized for some as just another Five Finger Death Punch replica, and must also show that their technical skill isn’t limited to a handful of bombastic radio singles. 

N.A.T.I.O.N.” certainly accomplishes both, bringing together the wide range of experiences of a diverse cast of musicians to illuminate their ambitious vision. No matter how closely they brush shoulders with the suburban aggression that dominates the diluted blows of Five Finger Death Punch, the tracks on “N.A.T.I.O.N.” show a far wider range of versatility. Such variety is owed not only to the more polished songwriting and the excellent guitar work, but also to the remarkable vocal capabilities of front-man Tommy Vext

“N.A.T.I.O.N.” Album Artwork

On “LA Song,” Vext opens with a roaring scream that would not be out of place among the likes of Parkway Drive, and sustains it with seemingly effortless endurance. But screams are far from the only trick Vext has hidden up his sleeve; he can also carry a honey-sweet tune with an angelic melody, showcased best in the gentleness of “Heaven So Heartless.” Though some of the tracks have him constrained to an aggressive mid-range, Vext is definitely a beast begging to be set free from the chains that have bound him. Unleashed from the dreams of another hit radio single, he illustrates his vocal potential, even when I believe there’s much more yet to come to the surface if the songs were a bit lengthier. 

N.A.T.I.O.N.” is heavy, and never stops pushing against the line of something more sinister. The aggressive and intimidating rap opening on “I’ll Be There” shows the unbridled aggression of experienced metal musicians who are more than willing to take risks. Backed by unstoppable guitars in the hands of Doc Coyle and Chris Cain, the breakdowns are enough to leave a more voracious audience satisfied while still keeping most of the tracks highly accessible, sparkled with some consumer-friendly chorus.

Bad Wolves sophomore effort shows off the talents and a chunk taste of the skills that are barreled up within their members. It’s clear they are in a mission to attain a distinct sound that aligns with their true passions, and even when this goal is still not achieved in its entirety here, “N.A.T.I.O.N.” is a considerable leap in the right direction, an effort to distance themselves from the mainstream rock cliché while utilizing dynamics and impressive heaviness in a way that makes the record a pleasing listening experience for both modern rockers and metal-heads. A rock-hard, shameless, metal album, sporting some serious balls; and packing a pristine production paired with serious punch.

Released by: Eleven Seven Music
Released on: October 25th, 2019
Genre: Metal

Musicians:

  • Tommy Vext / Vocals
  • Doc Coyle / Guitar
  • Chris Cain / Guitar
  • Kyle Konkiel / Bass
  • John Boecklin / Drums

“N.A.T.I.O.N.” Track Listing:

  1. I’ll Be There
  2. No Messiah
  3. Learn To Walk Again 
  4. Killing Me Slowly
  5. Better Off This Way
  6. Foe or Friend
  7. Sober
  8. Back In The Days
  9. The Consumerist
  10. Heaven So Heartless
  11. Crying Game
  12. LA Song

Bad Wolves upcoming tour dates w/ Five Finger Death Punch:

November 1, 2019 – Las Vegas, NV – The Joint @ Hard Rock
November 2, 2019 – Las Vegas, NV – The Joint @ Hard Rock
November 5, 2019 – Tucson, AZ – Tucson Arena
November 7, 2019 – El Paso, TX – Don Haskins Center
November 9, 2019 – Corpus Christi, TX – American Bank Center
November 10, 2019 – Beaumont, TX – Ford Park Center
November 12, 2019 – Baton Rouge, LA – Raising Cane’s River Center Arena
November 13, 2019 – Huntsville, AL – Von Braun Center Arena
November 15, 2019 – Pensacola, FL – Pensacola Bay Center
November 16, 2019 – Estero, FL – Hertz Arena
November 18, 2019 – Jacksonville, FL – Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena
November 20, 2019 – Columbia, SC – Colonial Life Arena
November 22, 2019 – Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum
November 23, 2019 – Chattanooga, TN – Mckenzie Arena
November 26, 2019 – Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
November 27, 2019 – Youngstown, OH – Covelli Centre
November 29, 2019 – Knoxville, TN – Thompson-Boling Arena
November 30, 2019 – North Charlestown, SC – North Charlestown Coliseum
December 2, 2019 – Norfolk, VA – Ted Constant Convocation Center
December 3, 2019 – Allentown, PA – PPL Center
December 5, 2019 – Toledo, OH – Huntington Center
December 6, 2019 – Lexington, KY Rupp Arena
December 8, 2019 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center- Expo Hall
December 9, 2019 – Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
December 11, 2019 – Madison, WI – Alliant Energy Center- Veterans Memorial
December 12, 2019 – Duluth, MN – Amsoil Arena
December 14, 2019 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
December 15, 2019 – Omaha, NE – Chi Health Center

8.0 Great

A diverse range of vocal talents, dynamism and accessibility are highlights on a sophomore album that succeeds in giving Bad Wolves a more succinct and definitive musical personality following their meteoric rise to stardom.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 8
  • Originality 6.5
  • Production 9.5
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