This year has seen the return of a number of metal heavyweights, and the latest to emerge from a prolonged hiatus are heavy metal legends Disturbed. The band are back after four years with their new album Immortalized, their sixth studio album to date. As one of metal’s most commercially successful groups, topping charts with previous albums and Grammy nominated, it will be interesting to see how this one fares.
Disturbed announced their return to life in a typically “metal” way; launching a promo video of the band’s mascot “The Guy” lying unresponsive on life support – but still breathing. A further video showed The Guy awakening and coming back to life coincided with the album release as well as the first live show from Disturbed in four years. A fairly dramatic re-entry which would have resonated with the band’s hardcore fan base. Which is exactly who Immortalized seems to be aimed at.
Working with new producer Kevin Churko (Papa Roach/Rob Zombie), Disturbed wanted a fresh start with someone who would challenge them and raise the bar. And while the overall sound of Immortalized is well crafted, we’re not sure that the release pushes into new territory. Thematically, lyrics are still working over ideas that we’ve heard before; the tainting of the innocent in Who Taught You How To Hate, vengeance and calls to arms in What Are You Waiting For. Disappointingly, the power behind the thought falls somewhat flat in places with lazy cliches and the occasional emotional jerk that smacks of teenage angst. Vox pops on Save Our Last Goodbye feel obvious and clumsy, it’s a big track full of bombast but the sentiment calls up old tracks like Evanescence’s My Immortal, and feels slightly dated. A cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound Of Silence is a brave move but maybe would have been stronger if the whole had committed to a low, haunting moment rather than a sort of cinematic, metal epic.
Musically, Disturbed have resisted pushing into the current trend for darker, more extreme metal. And even compared to previous releases, Immortalized has less of the fire that drove albums like The Sickness. That isn’t to say that any of the above render this a lacklustre album, and die hard Disturbed fans will most likely glory in the return of their metal champions. And at the very least, Immortalized has the potential to hit its mark with a certain nostalgia. It would also be hard to ignore the fact that Disturbed’s success is entirely justified in terms of their ability to produce outstanding music. From Draiman’s on-point vocals to the razor sharp production, trademark melodic leanings, and even guitarist Danny Donegan’s habitual drop tuning which does push out a brilliantly thundering, heavier sound.
The disappointment lies in the sense that they have maybe gone for the easy kills. But then again there is also a degree of bravery in that Disturbed have stuck to their guns with Immortalized and returned with an album that turns its back on current trends, and one that only they could have produced.