“This is a good album, BUT with this CD they have taken their style as far as they can and it just isn’t as strong as its predecessors. For the first time many of the songs sound too alike and sometimes you get the feeling that they are nicking things from themselves. So for the next album they need to develop and move on a bit, find new ways to their music without changing who they are.” These are words that I wrote in my review for Disturbed’s last record Asylum from 2010 (reviewed here). I guess the guys must have felt that they actually did have their brand for as long as they could for the time being, because after the tour that followed Asylum, the band went on hiatus / a break, a much-needed one, I guess. The band released an album of B-sides and unreleased songs called The Lost Children in 2011, an album that I completely missed out on, but after its release the members concentrated on other projects. Bass player John Moyer joined the “supergroup” Adrenaline Mob, also featuring singer Russell Allen (Symphony X) and drummer Mike Portnoy (ex- Dream Theater, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, The Winery Dogs), singer David Draiman formed the Industrial Metal band Device that released a self titled album in 2013, guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren started the band Fight Or Flight and released their album Life By Design? also in 2013. At the end of 2014, the news that Moyer was about to form a new band, Art Of Anarchy, with singer Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver) and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex- Guns N’ Roses), was brought to our attention and by then, a Disturbed reunion didn’t look very likely anytime soon. That’s why it was somewhat surprising to hear that Disturbed all of a sudden were in the studio recording a new album. As a fan of the band since Ten Thousand Fists (2005), I wasn’t really worried about the quality on this record, my concerns were more in the route of if the band had upgraded themselves or if they were still doing the same old, same old – the fact that Asylum wasn’t one of their biggest moments, despite some really good songs. But, I was about to find out.
“The Eye Of The Storm” (not the most original song title ever….) is an intro that has a spooky feel and sounds like something Alice Cooper, King Diamond or even Ghost could have used. The title track follows, kicking and screaming in a classic Disturbed way, very in-your-face. Nothing upgraded there really, but the song is damn great and the whole tired and burned-out shadow that was all over Asylum is gone. “The Vengeful One” follow in the title track’s footprints – heavy and hard, but very catchy and melodic, even with some strings in the bridge – brilliant! “Open Your Eyes” is probably the most catchy and radio friendly Disturbed has recorded so far. There are some big Pop Metal tendencies in the “whoa whoa whoa” refrain and I guess this one is aiming for air play. It’s a great tune and I think it’s cool that the guys aren’t afraid to go a little Pop. But it only takes until next song “The Light” for Disturbed to become even more radio friendly – and even more Pop. First, it’s a brilliant tune that sticks to the brain instantly, but it’s more a Pop song in a Rock disguise than the other way around. It could actually have been an 80’s Pop hit, like Kylie Minogue goes Metal or something and it must be a single somewhere along the way. With “What Are You waiting For”, the band get back to basics again. Built on aggression, fury and a Metal groove, the song is a kick in the guts – a very pleasant gut-kicker. “You’re Mine” might rise an eyebrow or two as it begins as a dancy 80’s Pop song – on the border to disco, actually – but it soon transfer into att classic Disturbed Metal groover, albeit a very poppy one. “Save Our Last Goodbye” goes in a more traditional Disturbed way, but the chorus is Pop oriented, everything built on a rhythmic foundation and a sweaty groove. To record a cover seems to be a must for Disturbed – “Shout” (Tears For Fears) on The Sickness (2000), “Land Of Confusion” (Genesis) on Ten Thousand Fists and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2) on Asylum – and of course, they did record one for this album as well. At first glimpse, Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence” feels like a weird choice that might not fit the band at all, but after just one listen, my mind has changed. The song starts in a very soft way, like the original, only darker and heavier and towards the middle, the song start to get big and in the end it has become this huge, epic and bombastic ballad, melancholic with big orchestration with strings and all. Fantastic cover – and f**king Hell how Draiman can sing. That voice is bloody amazing on that song. Never heard him go for the throat that way ever before. “Never Wrong” does not stand out much, it’s a traditional Disturbed tune, aggressive with a striking melody and a killer groove. A good song, no more, no less. “Who Taught You How To Hate” ends the record with a bang and a positive message. We need to look into ourselves, search for our empathy and stop the hate. A heavy track with all the Disturbed ingredients you need.
You can also buy the deluxe edition – of course – and if you do that, you get three bonus tracks. The first one out, “Tyrant”, is an OK song, but doesn’t really inspire one to put out the extra green. But “Legion Of Monsters” do exactly that, the opposite to the last track with a steady beat, a thunderous groove and melodies so very memorable, both in the verses and the refrain. The last of three bonus tracks is called “The Brave And The Bold” and is one of this album’s best tracks. This heavy Pop-Metal track is quite heavy on the keyboards, but that doesn’t take away anything from the heaviness and aggression. The song also happens to be catchier than chlamydia.
This is a really, really strong come back from a band that only five years ago sounded like they were about to call it day. Sure, there might be the odd filler or two here, but the majority of the songs are all jawbreakers with striking melodies. The hiatus seems to have done the band good and given them a new-found spark and kick in the butt. That said, this is their most radio friendly and Pop oriented record to date, but it’s still heavy, aggressive and hard – a mix that suits this band very well. Also the stupid nu-metal tag that has been put on them all those 15 years ago is just plain wrong. Sure, there were some signs in that direction in the beginning, on their two first records, but since 2005, those abominations are all gone – Disturbed are a Heavy Metal band in the truest sense of the word. And yes, in my book, they have developed their style and moved on. This record should go platinum – and then some!
01. The Eye Of The Storm
03. The Vengeful One
04. Open Your Eyes
05. The Light
06. What Are You Waiting For
07. You’re Mine
09. Save Our Last Goodbye
10. Fire It Up
11. The Sound Of Silence
12. Never Wrong
13. Who Taught You How To Hate
14. Tyrant (Bonus Track)
15. Legion Of Monsters (Bonus Track)
16. The Brave And The Bold (Bonus Track)