Review Summary: Despite several standout tracks, Asylum is an average, predictable effort.
Insanity is the big theme of the hard rock band, Disturbed's most recent album: Asylum. Surprisingly, the songwriting is far from insane. It feels calculated and reserved. I expected a thrilling experience when I saw the album cover of Disturbed's mascot breaking free…but the music takes few chances. Let's take a listen track by track.
An ominous instrumental to open the album. After a minute of gritty synth pads, we hear a proficient yet short guitar solo. Builds up tension for the next song nicely.
A very strong track which fits the savage mood of the album cover. The guitars and drums quickly lock in sync with the trademark Disturbed staccato effect. The lead vocalist, David Draiman, delivers a gritty, animal-like vocal performance and a catchy chorus hook: "Feel you die! In Asylum! I live a lie."
This next song seems to drag. David Draiman's vocal melodies sound emotionally distant, completely devoid of pain or anger like the title track. The chorus plods with a forgettable hook and a lagging drum pattern.
A more solid piece in the vein of the title track. Though it doesn't pull any surprises, it's a catchy, radio-ready song. The chorus lyrics: "I'm one with the warrior inside/My dominance can't be denied" emote a feeling of raw invincibility reminiscent of their song, Indestructible.
5-Another Way to Die
A plodding song that doesn't speed up until sixty seconds in. The slow part's guitar work sounds muddy and gloomy. When it speeds up, it seems energetic at first but the chorus quickly anchors it down with the same tired plod of the "The Infection". I wanted to like this one but the hooks couldn't draw me in.
A generic track that tries to add intrigue with its lyrics about "A generation that was persecuted endlessly/Exterminated by the Nazi war machine." The rhymes try to tackle the vast issue of genocide…but they just don't succeed. They give little insight into the matter beyond the typical high school student's opinion.
The last great tune on the album. David Draiman is electrifying with his blend of crooning and growling styles. This is a perfect example of Disturbed's blend between radio rock and metal. The instruments are also unified and powerful.
The most obvious filler song. The gloomy, melodramatic verses and chorus are forgettable and dull.
This is a decent track but it doesn't reach its potential. The guitar work is strangely discordant and clashes with Draiman, especially in the verses. The lyrics about vampiric beings are not particularly enthralling, either.
Another song that doesn't reach its possibilities. The lyrics are actually very intriguing: It's about a baby that Draiman's girlfriend lost in miscarriage. Sadly, this personal and deep song doesn't have enough melody or power to carry its message. It is instantly forgettable.
Hm…did I say Crucified was the most obvious filler song? This one is a contender. It's bogged down by a slow tempo and monotonic guitars.
Another unremarkable song. Like many of the filler tracks on Asylum, it has little appeal in its hooks or instrumental parts.
13-ISHFWILF (Hidden Track)
Disturbed has made a few great cover songs, (Land of Confusion and Shout 2000 come to mind), but this one was a big misstep. It takes U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and tries to Disturbify it, resulting in a discordant, unpleasant sound. Minor scale guitars don't mix with Bono's melodies. . .
-David Draiman delivers a strong and mature performance on many songs like Asylum and The Animal.
-Some of the hooks are catchy and fit the crossover sound of Disturbed.
-The guitar work has a tight, staccato sound.
-The production quality is usually clear and satisfying with full bass resonance.
-Many of the songs are filler with forgettable choruses
-Disturbed tries few new ideas. Nothing is surprising about the album.
-The energy gets bogged down and moody too often.
Key Tracks: The Animal, Asylum, The Warrior