Release Date: October 29, 2021 Genre: Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, Hard Rock Label: Better Noise Music The Los Angeles-based heavy metal/hard rock supergroup quintet Bad Wolves have returned to the spotlight with their third full-length studio album, Dear Monsters. The band, which formed in 2017, has been made up of the four core members of drummer John Boecklin (ex-DevilDriver), guitarists Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid) and Chris Cain (ex-Bury Your Dead, ex-For the Fallen Dreams), along with bassist Kyle Konkiel (Vimic, ex-In This Moment, ex-Scar the Martyr). Marking the newest chapter of Bad Wolves, they have welcomed vocalist Daniel "DL" Laskiewic, previously the guitarist of The Acacia Strain, to the fold. Dear Monsters is co-produced by John Boecklin and Josh Gilbert -whose best-known performing in the metalcore bands As I Lay Dying and Wovenwar. Daniel "DL" Laskiewic is not much of a new face to the Bad Wolves camp, as one may even realize. DL, whose an accomplished songwriter and music producer in his own right, has also worked on many other works from bands such as All That Remains, Legion, and For the Fallen Dreams. During the writing of Bad Wolves' previous album, N.A.T.I.O.N. (2019), DL contributed to the album's songwriting and production. So it appears Bad Wolves wanted to find a familiar face and somebody familiar with their music to fill the vocalist position. I guess they may have also wanted someone they could get along with, with all the animosity that's been unfortunately formed between the band and Tommy Vext -their previous vocalist- earlier this year. Something I won't dredge up, but unfortunately, it has all been all too public between the two.
Dear Monsters opens strong with the track "Sacred Kiss." The song's main synth hook is haunting, along with its heavy riffage. It's an absolute head-turner. "Sacred Kiss" is a rollercoaster of an album opener. Additionally, it's an impressive showcase of DL's vocal abilities. Without a doubt, DL has a very similar voice to Vext but is still quite distinctive. The track blurs the lines between hard rock and groove metal with the infectious radio-rock chorus and its groovy but vicious guitar riffs. The album's lead single, "Lifeline," is as infectious as they come on, Dear Monsters. Bad Wolves has never been shy to write and place a few major radio-ready tracks onto their albums. If they're not touring arenas themselves, they're on the opening slot in arenas, so having these sure-fire tracks that can get heavy radio play to fill seats is genius. "Comatose" pulls the band back into their hard rock side. However, it has plenty of metal elements mixed into it. An eye-catching vocal performance from DL showcases his clean vocal range without ease. Additionally, "Comatose" is driven by a monstrous guitar down-tuned guitar riff. That is utterly ground shaking. The use of seven-string guitars on the track is fully utilized. "On The Case" is a barn burner. So ultimately, "On The Case" is one of the heaviest tracks on the entire twelve-track album, which pulls Bad Wolves back to their groove metal roots. Lyrically, "On The Case" sounds political in nature. Something the band has also never strayed away from incorporating into their music. So I expected something along the lines of this track to be included on the record. "If Tomorrow Never Comes" is yet another infectious hard rock number on Dear Monsters, and it's destined to be a future single. The guitar once again from Coyle and Cain is stellar, and that guitar solo is the cherry on top. "Springfield Summer" takes Bad Wolves into new waters with a massively acoustic-driven musical piece. It's a nice change of pace for the album and the band. However, the quintet doesn't stray too far off course though. The chorus of "Springfield Summer" features electric instruments and exciting drum fills from Boecklin. The track has that vibe that would best be taken in on a hot summer night or even driving down the road in your vehicle with the windows rolled down. "Springfield Summer" is an album highlight without even needing to think about it. Oh, and I can't forget that blistering guitar solo. "Classical" is where the album's most brutal guitar riff can be heard. The guitars on this particular track are transcendental. In addition, DL's immense screaming abilities are put to the test, which is just grotesque in the best of ways. Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, and Dear Monsters ends with the subtle rock ballad, "In The Middle." While things do have to come to an end, they don't always end in the right ways, but "In The Middle" has an adequate feeling of fulfilment and gratification after listening.