Sound — 7
"Immortalized" is the sixth album by Disturbed, an album that comes five years after their last release "Asylum." While previous albums have often had a problem of lacking variety and various parts sticking to a formula of some sort, this new effort shows that band evolution comes in small steps, not to mention the healthy addition of the time the band needed to refresh themselves.
So where do we begin? At "Eye of the Storm," a strange and almost chintzy guitar prelude that masks the strength of the next real track, "Immortalized." Immediately, this already a stronger sounding album than "Asylum," the title track grabbing you with this massive swing of a riff tied around a chorus that meddles with surprisingly complex chord changes and more background production than would be expected on a Disturbed track (added guitar layers, subtle synthesis etc.). This is one of the more unique tracks to come from Disturbed, one that aims to promise for more variety for the rest of the album. And truth be told, if you had this album placed next to the extremely popular "Ten Thousand Fists," the sound is already much more interesting. While it's not a massive, game-changing progression in the ten years since "Ten Thousand Fists," all these little details and improvements over various aspects of what they had previously add up. What it's lacking a bit of is some of the more progressive sounding riff ideas from "Asylum," for instance, tracks like "Warrior" and "Another Way to Die" use more left-of-field or old-school sounding melodic progressions that don't have similar analogues on "Immortalized." There are a few very new-ish ideas here and there, like the opening groove on "Open Your Eyes": it's a little bit more sophisticated than what we'd expect while not going completely off base. "You're Mine" starts off with an electro-industrial section that balances a really interestingly detailed riff, one that could be expected from electro-prog bands like OSI. Topped off with a very fancy chorus, bridge and guitar solo and it's one of the stronger tracks on the album.
Another special mention is "The Light" which, while quite cheesy, has the sort of production and song writing density akin to Devin Townsend's "Addicted" and also has a similar injection of Devin's weirdness around the mid way mark, where a really old school Disturbed bridge breaks up the relatively palatable melodic parts. That being said, given the tendency of a lot of mainstream metal acts to release an album with an abundance of tracks with similar lengths, "Immortalized" does have a few duds here and there. "Who" has some decent riff and dynamic ideas but feels quite unambitious compared to the rest of the album, a bit too similar to how much of "Asylum" sounded. "Fire It Up" is riff driven boredom, lacking the strong, cohesive melodic ideas of the rest of the album and relying on the fact that the song is about 420 blazing it. Finally, while not necessarily a bad track, "Who Taught You How to Hate" does nothing to close this album well, and it just kinds of ends. The production and mix is a definite improvement over "Asylum," although it lacks a bit of the meat of "Ten Thousand Fists" and "Indestructible." Great tones, massive drum sound and more appreciation for layers and fancy transitions, a relatively recent concept that the band have continuously added to. This is most likely the result of the work done by producer Kevin Churko, "Immortalized" being the first album he's done with Disturbed.
Lyrics — 7
David Draiman has often been praised for his rhythmical approach to his vocal lines, that and his rather distinctive Phil-Collins-on-steroids vocal delivery. However, over time, he's shifted away from that rather monotone delivery and similar patterning to more diverse approaches, something that's in this records favour. He also tones it down a bit here and there, and the much anticipated cover of Simon & Garfunkels "The Sound of Silence" shows a rare, super-soft side that Draiman had barely hinted at before now. At it's peak, he brings the same adrenaline-releasing conviction as Alan Averill of Primordial (coincidentally, another bald guy with great vox). Gone are the "Ooh wah-ah-ahs" and instead is strong, anti-gimmick driven vocal expression, so props to that guy. Lyrically, nothing is really that out of the ordinary for Disturbed on this bout. "Indestructible" and "Asylum" had some clearer themes and topics going on, while "Immortalized" deals with reiterations and mutations of ideas from previous albums. "The Vengeful One" is thematically similar to "Ten Thousand Fists" just with a different protagonist, songs like "Open Your Eyes" and "You're Mine" feel like very non-descript personal anger songs about "getting over problems" and the less said about the inanity of "Fire It Up," the better.
Overall Impression — 8
So, what you're getting is the factory fresh feeling of a more mature Disturbed, although there's still a few wrinkles to iron out. There's some good attempts at introducing subtle progression into various parts of their core sound, nicely presented with the production of Churko. Hopefully, the band can use this album as a starting point for more interesting material, as hinted at on parts of "Asylum." While the singles are slightly weaker, overall, the track quality is better, and feels less of a slog than earlier releases. And after dropping most of the gimmicks that border on near-meme status (I, personally, never even got down with the sickness), it feels like Disturbed are in a stronger place than ever. Songs to look out for: "Immortalized," "The Vengeful One," "Open Your Eyes," "The Light," "Save Our Last Goodbye," "You're Mine," "The Sound of Silence," "Never Wrong."