Sound — 9
I'll start out and say, I am a Disturbed fan. That said, I can judge music by the qualities I perceive to be good, and by those standards I can say what I feel is good or bad. Is Disturbed's new album as heavy and dark as they said it would be? No, not really. But, there are several key songs that progress their musical talents beyond anything they've yet recorded for the public, and the whole album in general has a different feel to it than any of their previous ones. I know people's biggest nitpick with Disturbed is that "all their music sounds the same" and I have to say, at first glance that can seem true. However, if you have the ear and the patience to get to know their songs, then I tell you truthfully you can hear a great variety and sense of originality from each and every one. This album was excellent in the beginning, got better in the middle, but just after the middle it lagged. Then the last few songs picked it back up again. Favorite song is definitely The Night, I love the dark sounding music and the solo blew me away (imagine ol' Danny sweep picking). Deceiver, Facade, Divide, Inside the Fire, and Indestructible are also high points. The other songs are all good in their own respects, but they don't have that stand out quality that a first listener will pick up on. The absolute biggest thing to point out on this album is that all musicians involved (and especially Dan on guitar and Mike on drums) have improved. Dan's solos fit each and every song (though a couple this time around can seem similar, but The Night makes up for it tenfold) and Mike's drums become a standout point in every song, something to listen to and tap your feet to, instead of keep in the back of your head on autopilot. Only other nitpick is that some of the songs could have used better editing/mixing. That being said, there are also songs that have excellent mixing and editing, so it's hit and miss (worst is the switch from verse to pre-chorus in Inside the Fire, it just sounds unreal). This band has more to prove, and farther to go, and I hope they keep moving in this direction. Yes, I admit I'd love to hear some more varied music from them, maybe a few more metal-heavy songs, and a few more ballad type songs like Darkness. Slowly, but surely, Disturbed is progressing.
Lyrics — 8
Simply put, you either love or hate David Draiman. I happen to be a huge fan, not because of the inhuman grunts and roars he has in his pipes, but because of his ethnic style of singing and one-of-a-kind voice. After a while the songs start to sound the same, vocally, until you break them down and actually listen to them, and learn the lyrics. Only then can you appreciate what he's saying, and how he sings. If you are one who just skims the songs for something good, chances are you'll miss the finer points. That being said, some of his lyrics come off as cheesy. But, if there's one thing Disturbed is, they are serious. Literally. They have serious lyrics, because they are talking about a serious subject. I don't think you can fault Draiman for having a big vocabulary. Just because he doesn't say f--k every other word, or scream incessantly through the entire song, doesn't mean he is "pompous." He is a smart guy, and has a vocabulary, so don't fault him for it. On the other hand, some of the singular words he uses are starting to show up again and again since Believe. If I was the band, looking for a new sound, or a refinement to the one they have, I would work on new ways to convey my subject, and new subjects to write about. I think Indestructible has every right to it's lyrics, but next album I expect a bigger change. So, short and sweet, Draiman's voice and vocal prowess is excellent, and nobody, no matter how much they hate Disturbed, can deny that he does have a singular talent for how he sings. The downside, some people feel his lyrics are cheesy, and though I myself don't for the most part, those others that do still count. It's just a matter of pleasing yourself and not the masses, and despite popular opinion, I think Disturbed does this and stay true to themselves.
Overall Impression — 9
High points of the album: more, more, more, more solos. You can never complain about more solos. Better and more complex drum work. Always a plus. Bass, the only thing that stood out was the second verse in Facade where he has his own little moment, but I thought it was excellent. Vocals, more of the same, so if you love that, then you're in luck, if you don't, then you know what to expect. Low points: lyrics, however serious, can come off as cheesy to some. Some of the riffs are not as standout as I was hoping for, but others are very much so, so they tend to balance. Overall, kudos the the guys for another top quality release. I will have the best of these songs in my repertoire soon! Last note: I commend Draiman for writing about his girlfriend of years ago, I know that must have been hard, but I feel the song (Inside the Fire) has a positive warning message that is worth writing about.