It may be easy to give Disturbed flak (Down With The Sickness‘ resurfacing monkey noises have been a main topic of discussion for the last decade and a half) but they certainly know what they’re doing. Since forming in 1996 they’ve mastered the art (if you can call it that) of metal that’s big on hooks, if not exactly on brains. Even after a four year long hiatus, they’ve now returned with Immortalized, and placed next to the rest of their material it doesn’t miss a beat.
Naturally, Immortalized is at its best when it sees Disturbed playing to their strengths, specifically chugging guitars, clattering drums and David Draiman’s scattergun syllable enunciations. And on this sixth full-length, playing to their strengths happens a lot. Still, it’s hard to complain – at its best, the songs on here are enough to rival anything the band have previously done. It doesn’t get stronger than the double-headed attack of the title track and The Vengeful One, the former being a track of triumphant battle metal destined to be screamed back in huge venues, while the latter is just vintage Disturbed – heavy, melodic and bolstered by Draiman’s inimitable vocals. Meanwhile, What Are You Waiting For rages along with the vigour of a band a fraction of their age, and Save Our Last Goodbye just soars.
To say that Immortalized is just a collection of rehashed ideas, though, would be grossly unfair. There is some playing round with new sounds and elements, and to their credit most bands over two decades into their career would stick to what they know. But the problem is – to put it bluntly – they’re mostly a bit crap. Fire It Up, Draiman’s paean to weed, is a rather lame attempt at injecting some Living Colour-style funk into their usual metal assault, and there’s a God-awful cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence that only confirms the idea of Disturbed backed by just strings and a piano is as unappealing as it sounds. Granted, the new sounds do work sometimes – You’re Mine is slathered with a nice layer of electro razzmatazz – but these instances are few and far between. Couple these with some utterly forgettable cuts like Who and an exhausting runtime that’s just shy of an hour, and you’ve got an album that spends far too much time in the doldrums when it should really fly.
What Immortalized does the best though, is that it elevates Disturbed back to exactly the same level they were at before their hiatus. Even when it does falter – and that’s a fair few times – it’s no better or worse than anything they’ve come up with in the past, and there’s absolutely nothing that shouldn’t keep their iron-pumping legion of fans happy. So will Immortalized make Disturbed a relevant musical force in 2015? It’s highly unlikely, but does it show that they still have the clout to make at least a half decent this far into the game? Most definitely.
For fans of: Sevendust, Stone Sour, Device
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Immortalized’ by Disturbed is released on 21st August on Reprise Records.