Sound — 7
Following the release of "The Sickness," Disturbed is a band that has grown comfortable with the status quo. They have the foresight not to continuously release the same album over and over (like some of their contemporaries), but not enough to confidence to really stretch out and expand to what they are capable of. As is the case with most of their discography, there are flashes of brilliance on "Immortalized," but never a sustained burn. I do want to give credit where it is due, this offering is a massive improvement over 2010's "Asylum." Following four consecutive albums of solid, quality mainstream metal, "Asylum" was tragically unfocused and bland. So much so, you'd swear you could hear the band's lack of interest coming through the speakers. It was clearly time for a break, and it is nice to see that the hiatus has done the band some good.
The album opens with the instrumental "Eye of the Storm" which feels entirely forgettable and lazy. Don Donegan is certainly a skilled guitarist, and this is far below what he is capable of. A guitar tone that is oversaturated, and flourishes of hammer-ons and pull-offs that seem to exist only for the sake of killing time while David writes lyrics. Leave the wah to Kirk Hammett Mr. Donnegan, that is his dead horse to beat. The title track would have had much more impact as the opener. "Immortalized" is standard "Disturbed assembly line" quality material. Nothing new here, a chugging riff throughout, Draiman's typical vocal melodies carrying throughout. The song is enjoyable as a Disturbed creation, but only just. The album definitely opens on a frightening front, seeming to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. The first radio single "The Vengeful One" is next, and is much more promising. Following one of Donegan's trademark jagged, off time riffs, Draiman releases his midrange vocal to great effect. The clean pre-chorus is perfectly built, and the chorus has a fabulous hook. This is Disturbed at their best. Nothing new here, but satisfying all the same. The groove is really the selling point. Your head bobs without thinking about it throughout, and you're certain to catch yourself singing the chorus after one repetition. This is very much "Ten Thousand Fists" material. Following is "Open Your Eyes" and while you may be tempted to dismiss it entirely, it does have a solid melody, and a lot of potential. Lyrics are the biggest hindrance here. We know you can do better, David. "The Light" is an intriguing offering. The initial opening brings to mind Sixx:AM material, slightly heavy, but begrudgingly uplifting. This is shameless radio pandering. It's not a bad song per say, but not one that anyone will admit to liking. The change in rhythm and feel is refreshing though, it needs some polishing, but I enjoy the attempt. "What are You Waiting For?" is a shining spot on this album, Draiman opens with some whispering, (shocking) but follows with a nice snarl. This track is the first that actually holds some venom, there's a drive to it, and the slight experimentation with the chorus melody gives it a nice fit in 2015, but still makes you want to drive fast and reckless, like all metal should. The very brief "solo" by Donnegan seems a little unnecessary, but we'll deal with it, this is a deserved moment of mental masturbation. "You're Mine" is a little unsettling, it opens feeling industrial, but falls flat coming off as a sample from "Night at the Roxbury" metalized. Kudos for the '90s club vibe, unfortunately it's not in a good way. It doesn't get any less cheesy. The lyrics are entirely dreadful. "Who" is safe, predictable Disturbed, but it is well done. Here, Draiman relies on "Who the f--k are you?" to carry the song, and it works. While it's not foolproof, a good "f--k" here and there can make something passable, and that's really what the song is. "Save Our Last Goodbye" has an exquisitely dark tone from the opening, it envelops nicely and would have fit perfectly amongst the tracks on "Indestructible." "Fire It Up" is the album's low point-without question. I should've known hearing the bong rip at the beginning. An ode to marijuana, the lyrics here make my skin crawl. "When I take a puff from the leaves of the devil and it carries me to the other side." Put the bong down, Dave, this explains a lot on the lyrical front in the last few years. These lyrics are juvenile, lame, lazy, and just plain atrocious. No issue with pot, but you can't get lyrics from your connection David. There is one bright spot, Don Donegan's riff work is truly first rate on this song. A great example of his style. The cover of "The Sound of Silence" is probably going to be the most divisive song here, some are sure to love and some are sure to hate. It is dark, and hauntingly atmospheric. I found it very enjoyable, take from it what you will. "Never Wrong" is another shining track here. Driving, vitriolic, and heavy, this is a nice blend of "Indestructible" and "The Sickness." Don Donnegan's work overall is accomplished, nothing new here, but I dig it all the same. The guitar work is glue on this album, and Donegan is definitely on top of his game. The rhythm section leaves a little to be desired, while it is good enough, and certainly gets the job done. I would like to see Mike Wengren stretch out a little more, he doesn't stray from the beaten path nearly enough.
Lyrics — 5
The lyrics are this album's weakest link. It is as simple as that. For the most part, they feel entirely uninspired, and like they were only recorded because David probably should sing something right? Wrong. These dumb downed lyrics may have worked when nu-metal was king, and with the intelligently devoid stuff that makes it to radio now days, I know it's easy to be complacent, but when your band is trying this hard to make a solid return, you could participate David. "Fire It Up" still just chaps my a-s. What Mr. Draiman needs to understand, is that even if your performance is good (which it is) crappy lyrics detract from it, and worse from the record. As a result, a record that could have easily been "great" becomes just "pretty good" and while it may seem like a small distinction, the fact that fault lies almost entirely with one member should leave him feeling ashamed at his lack of true effort.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, despite the criticisms I, and undoubtedly others will levy, this is a good record. It is miles ahead of "Asylum" for mainly one reason-there's a drive here, Disturbed feels alive and ready to conquer rock radio once again. Fans will enjoy the album immensely, and detractors will dismiss it as "just another Disturbed record." At the end of the day-that's what this album is, but at least it's Disturbed doing Disturbed well. Accessibility is a big factor here, both to the album's benefit and detriment. The hiatus has undoubtedly breathed some life into these old bones. The world knows your awake Disturbed, shake off the dirt and let's hear a real roar next time.