Review Summary: The Asylum every Disturbed fan is trapped in.
Ten years ago I was sitting in my bedroom as a young teenager head banging like the world stood still to arguably what has become one of the most iconic metal/hard rock albums of the past decade, The Sickness. That sound, and the corresponding feeling splintered and regressed upon listening to Believe for the first time due to the extreme shift in musical and lyrical style. And I can comfortably state, as both a Disturbed fan for the past decade and a musician that Asylum shows potential but in the end it kills the buzz many Disturbed fans held after the release of 2008's Indestructible, just like Believe did eight years ago. But that's not necessarily a bad thing considering the circumstances.
I will not waste time comparing this album to Disturbed's past work, that is redundant. Rather this Album is a different beast that shines through melodically like never before. Musically, Donegan is at top form with his riffs, allowing Draiman to carry your ears high with increased intensity, emotion and feeling. i.e. (The Infection) (Never Again) (Serpentine) Donegan also brings to the table brutal guitar solos which are very 80's esque if I may say, creating an epic atmosphere reminiscent of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. But as good as Donegan is taking his two steps forward, Wengren takes one back on drumming. Song after song is about as complex as any from KISS, with a basic bass/crash (1 and 2 and 1 and 2). However, Wengren does mix it up now and again, "Asylum" itself is a good example as is "innocence." This is disappointing though, we know his skills are better than this, we were treated to a double bass attack 2 years ago (Indestructible) and being a flagship band for the modern hard rock/metal genre I expect innovation, not just (mediocre) creation, from such a musician. This brings us now to Moyer the bassist, his work on the album is superb. His efforts are what allow for Donegan to shine so bright, creating a rhythmic razor edge. Every song exhibits this, but the most disappointing is by far "My Child" where a 25 second solo "battle" between bass and guitar could have, and should have been the main riff for the song. Truly, Moyer is easily one of the most under-rated bassists in modern rock and it's a shame Draiman and Donegan steal the show.
As expected, Draiman's lyrics are powerful and provocative, almost too much so. As much as we all hate what mankind has done to the planet and what the Nazis did to the Jews, Draiman's lyrics feel stale, almost like they were written strictly for shock value. But despite my criticism "Another Way to Die" and "Never Again" are still listenable and enjoyable tracks that are lyrically typical of Disturbed. Overall, Draiman just like the 4 albums prior allows for that "classic Disturbed sound" to be possible.
Realistically though, Disturbed is on top of their game for this genre of music. Even though the lyrical themes seem a bit recycled and in the end it sounds much like Believe with cut and paste Indestructible riffs. Is this album good? Yes. But, is it great? No, absolutely not. It's concerning that with each stage of Disturbed's "progression" they seemingly just borrow mainstream elements from alternative rock and "metal-core" for an album and then discard them upon creating their next piece of work. Can we blame them though? Lets face it, the Nu-metal genre sucked, it was rebellious no-talent music many bands put out one hit wonders for. Ten years down the road what do we have? A decent hard rock band out of Chicago, Illinois that isn't afraid to try new things but is slowly drowning in their own success, and it shows greatly in this album's lack of musical style and lyrical complexity. This record may have the power to bring new followers into the Disturbed fold, but aged fans of this band will feel quite disappointed. This is by far Disturbed's worst album to date, and it pains me deeply to say that.
With all elements considered, this album only continues that gloomy feeling in every Disturbed fan's heart where were all still waiting for the record that takes our breath away like The Sickness did ten years ago. Although I have no doubt this album will sell well, the "most mature Disturbed album yet" will just have us all trapped in the Asylum until next time.