Sound — 8
Disturbed formed in 1994, though their debut album, "The Sickness," was not released until 2000. Since that time the band's lineup has been very stable except for the replacement of bass player, Steve Kmak, with John Moyer in 2003. The band's most identifiable characteristic is very probably David Draiman's unique vocals and vocal melodies. "Immortalized" is the band's sixth studio album, which includes 13 tracks and a total runtime of approximately 53 minutes. The lead single from the album was "The Vengeful One," which was released in June, though it was quickly followed by the title track, "Immortalized," then "Fired Up" and "What Are You Waiting For." The album also includes a surprising cover - "The Sound of Silence," originally written and recorded by Simon and Garfunkel.
The album opens up with the short instrumental track, "The Eye of the Storm," which clocks in at under a minute and a half, though it is a very intriguing and engaging introduction for the album. The title track, "Immortalized," is the next song, and it absolutely starts with a bang - the riffs are huge, the drums and pummeling, and the vocals are strong. "The Vengeful One" opens up slower and quieter than you would expect from a lead single from Disturbed, but it gets up to speed with a vengeance, including catchy riffs and some solid drumming from Mike Wengren. "Open Your Eyes" seems like it was written for crowd participation at live shows - it has a beat that is easy to follow, has a very singable chorus, and a lot of groove. "The Light" opens up more like an indie rock song than a hard rock/alternative metal song, but really it probably stood out in a positive way from the rest of the album. It seemed like it was really on the outer limits of what David Draiman's vocals are good for, but it still worked somehow. "What Are You Waiting For" is built around a lot of aggression, and in a lot of ways is possibly the most stereotypically Disturbed song from the album, with a positive message, to boot. "You're Mine" starts out more like an EDM song than a hard rock track, but gets a little heavier later in the song. "Who" is easy to listen to, but on closer examination it doesn't exactly have a lot of substance to it. "Save Our Last Goodbye" opens up with a voicemail skit, and transitions into a huge guitar riff, complete with some really tight drumming and a lot of groove. "Fire It Up" is the obligatory party song, it opens up with sounds from a water bong, but at least the message isn't the usual "party 'til you drop," though it is a celebration of marijuana. "The Sound of Silence" is actually a Simon and Garfunkel cover, and somehow Disturbed really makes this work - this is another track where you can tell this is the very edge of what David Draiman can pull off. "Never Wrong" is a pretty solid track about the difficulty of dealing with someone in denial and can't admit when they are wrong, and how you just have to walk away. The album closes out with the track, "Who Taught You How to Hate," which is a fairly strong track, musically, but the lyrics don't really have a hook for me even though I can definitely appreciate the message. I do enjoy a lot of the guitar work on this one.
Lyrics — 7
David Draiman's vocals are what they are - very recognizable, and initially unique in a cool way. I think that his voice and the vocals from a lot of their earlier music began to rub me the wrong way years ago, and this album may eventually start doing the same thing but right now it is all really enjoyable. His vocal performance is solid, but he has a unique way that he uses vocal melody and cadence and has a distinctive voice - that can be a good thing because it makes the band immediately recognizable, but it also can start to get old after repeated listens. The lyrics are fairly typical for a hard rock album, though possibly a little bit more diverse. As an example of the lyrics, here is an excerpt from "What Are You Waiting For": "I have never compromised/ I never gave in/ And so I have welcomed every challenge in my life/ And I have never wandered blind/ I'm led by hunger/ And so I savor every drop each minute I'm alive/ Leave nothing left behind/ So what you waiting for/ Tell me what you waiting for/ Don't stand by and deny it/ So what you waiting for/ Tell me what you waiting for/ Break new ground and defy it/ Don't let the world outside/ Leave you cornered and alone/ So what you waiting for/ Tell me what you waiting for/ Let them all be reminded."
Overall Impression — 8
This isn't rocket science, it is hard rock, but this album is done right. In a genre that is plagued with "same-ness," this album is a breath of fresh air - even if only because it does a better job at the same thing a lot of other hard rock bands are trying to do right now. These sound like arena songs, like they would be killer at a live show, which I'm sure the band will put to good use in the very near future. You gotta give Mike Wengren some credit, too - that joker plays tight and has a lot of groove for a hard rock drummer. You always hear people talking about David Draiman or Dan Donegan, but honestly, Mike Wengren makes a super valuable contribution to their sound and he really shines on "Immortalized." My favorite songs on this would have to be the opening track, "The Eye of the Storm" because it is good even if it is a very short instrumental, and then from there probably "Immortalized" and "The Light."