Four years in waiting, fans of nu-metal band Disturbed have been left in anticipation wondering where their beloved band went. About a month ago, Disturbed surprised everyone, announcing they returned from their hiatus and will be releasing their next album this Friday (08/21). Luckily, they made their upcoming album “Immortalized” available to stream prior to its release, allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts of the album. Let’s just say the wait was well worth it for dedicated fans. As for the casual listener, well…
Much of “Immortalized” follows the same formula as any other Disturbed album. David Draiman’s easily identifiable clean and dirty vocals, the oversimplified lyrics, Dan Donegan’s chordy verses with quick paced solos, and a deep rhythm section provided by drummer Mike Wengren and bassist John Moyer. Honestly, there isn’t much that makes this album stand out, even more from what I felt was their weakest release in their 2010 album “Asylum.” It’s almost as if they found a formula with their widely praised debut “The Sickness,” and haven’t deviated from it in over a decade. Because of this, the casual Disturbed listener (let’s just say that’s where I fall into) feels like they’ve heard the same thing over and over again.
With all the hype going into this album, I expected much more out of “Immortalized.” Even from the first two tracks, “The Eye of the Storm” and the title track are very underwhelming. I felt no passion or excitement upon the first listen, unlike other opening tracks like “Indestructible” and “Ten Thousand Fists” from the albums of the same names. At least those songs had catchy hooks and lyrics, with beats I couldn’t help but hum or sing along. After my first listen, I couldn’t help wondering where the guitar solos from previous albums went, only appearing in a few tracks (“They Eye of the Storm,” “What Are You Waiting For”). Two downers come in “Save Our Last Goodbye,” a song about a lost friend relying too much on phone sounds and busy signals, and “The Sound of Silence,” a Simon and Garfunkel cover that is far too slow for such a “heavy” album. Even the hit single “Fire It Up” is undeniably cheesy, with the sound of a bong hit taking up the first 30+ seconds of the song, followed by more uninspiring lyrics about why it’s OK to smoke marijuana. Much of the album comprises of similar sounding orchestrations, open notes from the guitar, mimicking bass lines, and tom-heavy drum beats. The saving grace of this album is Draiman’s recognizable vocals, a melodic clean voice that easily fits in with the rest of the band.
Luckily, there are a few tracks that shine on “Immortalized,” including the first single “The Vengeful One,” the surprisingly soft (yet successful) “The Light,” and the closing track “Who Taught You How To Hate.” I found the music video for “The Vengeful One” more fascinating than the song itself, containing cryptic and disturbing video of a supernatural being slaughtering demonic figures. It’s catchy, albeit brief. “The Light” is much more interesting, with its industrial backdrop and finger-picking intro. Draiman especially stands out on this uplifting track, proving that you don’t need to be cliche to be metal. Moyer perfectly complements with his backing vocals, something I can’t recall happening in any other Disturbed album. If Disturbed hopes to evolve their sound on future records, they need to follow the pattern set in this song. “Who Taught You How To Hate” closes off the album on a high note, with its simple but repeatable chorus. It’s the most satisfying track on the album’s second half, perfectly placed to leave listeners pondering if they should give the album another go.
Simply put, there are more misses than hits on “Immortalized.” In sticking with what they know, though, Disturbed is able to reinvigorate its dedicated audience, providing more material in their wide selection of work. Although the song quality is lacking on the album, Disturbed perfectly generates songs with simple and repeatable structures. If I were to play anything they’ve released in the car, I could learn each of their songs’ hooks, beats, and lyrics by my third listen through. In a way, that’s part of the fun in listening to the band; I feel like I can relate and rock out to their music without too much thought.
Although “Immortalized” might not be their best record (I’m more of a “Believe” kind of guy), it is still worth a listen. Especially geared towards fans of radio-friendly metal bands like Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, and Godsmack, listeners will enjoy the familiar riffs and vocals. You can support Disturbed by checking out their album on iTunes, due to be released this Friday. You can also follow them on Facebook for the latest Disturbed news. I am pleased to hear that Disturbed is back, but I am crossing my fingers that they will stray away from the formula they’ve become too comfortable with for their next album.