Review Summary: Contrived angst coupled with horrid instrumentals and derivative songwriting.
When I was into nu-metal a few years ago, the most important factor in determining what music I liked was whether or not the band in question had lyrics expressing the angst and anger that my imbalanced teenage mind felt. I liked Slipknot a ton because Corey Taylor was so graphic and misanthropic that it helped me alleviate my constant low level of fury a bit. Back then, I was into Disturbed, as almost all of my breed were. Even then, Disturbed's lyrics seemed superficial and contrived. It was hard for me to believe the lead singer was genuinely angry when he let out happy whoops every few seconds (the famous oooh-ah-ah-ah-ah, naturally). Normally I would've latched right on to a spoken word rant like the one that occurs in Down With The Sickness, but for some reason, I never did. Disturbed seemed superficial and fake, but I enjoyed their songwriting a bit so I listened to them occasionally, but never felt strongly about them one way or the other.
Fast forward to now. My mind has achieved hormonal harmony once again, and I can listen to music with a much leveller head and more objective criteria. Now, Disturbed sounds absolutely putrid. The instrumentals are despicable; the guitar playing consists of one or two power chords per song, with an occasional obscenely simple mini-solo/fill here and there. The drumming is easy and uncreative beats, and the bass is nothing remarkable in any way. As if that wasn't enough, Disturbed lack any real songwriting ability, and incorporate no variation into the song structures. Sometimes techno-ish electronics and turntable scratchings are included for a little extra melodic boost. These additions add a little bit to Disturbed's music on occasion, but mostly just sound extraneous and cheesy; an effort from Disturbed to make rap-metal a part of their musical aesthetic.
So, pretty much, the instrumentation on The Sickness is pretty darn terrible. Unfortunately, so is the songwriting. Disturbed take a stab at rap-metal with Droppin' Plates, using Korn-style, downtuned to fuck
riffs coupled with incredibly lame white boy rapping. Numb is an utterly tepid and insincere ballad that is unable to stir any emotion within the listener. Shout 2000 is a totally serious cover of Tears For Fears' famous pop hit, done in horribly generic heavy metal style. Stupify, despite being one of Disturbed's more well known songs, is packed chock full of annoying melodies (actually, it's pretty much one recycled melody) and tepid hooks. The Game and Fear are the only two songs that I can accept as good, because they have the best riffage on the album and manage to maintain a tense mood throughout. Down With The Sickness has a pretty godly hook, and Meaning Of Life manages to be a decent closer despite the use of alien-themed electronic melodies. Other than that, the rest of the tracks on The Sickness are different enough to be distinguishable but still unrelentlingly boring.
If Disturbed are nothing more than decent to the ears of a prototypical superfan (read: unbalanced teenage boy) and horrid to the ears of a serious music listener, who the hell do they hope to appeal to? Avoid this, as this is nu-metal at its generic worst.