Review Summary: A mix of promising highs and dull-as-dirt lows, Disturbed's return balances itself out, putting the group right back where they left off.
Disturbed’s rise to power might have coasted off the shores of nu-metal with 2000’s The Sickness
, but their steady move into a more traditional metal territory is where they became stars on rock radio. Since 2002’s Believe
, however, this metal edge steadily showed its worn parts, as future albums did very little to evolve the band beyond that step from the debut to the sophomore. After three more albums running the gambit between “solid” to “mediocre”, Disturbed took a break. Disturbed’s hiatus brought about the side projects Device
and Fight or Flight
, neither of which reached Disturbed’s sky-high following. It’s made the anticipation, or at least the curiosity toward Disturbed’s return all the bigger. Immortalized
marks Disturbed’s first studio LP since 2010’s Asylum
, and despite some nice little breaks in character for the band, runs in place far too much to be anything more than simply solid, though that’s not entirely a bad thing.
Disturbed might have claimed its calling card on the nu-metal cruncher The Sickness
(with its now legendary “Down With the Sickness”), but immediately after that record, Disturbed found a formula and stuck with it...13 years and counting. Immortalized
follows in the footsteps of all four albums to follow, with a stronger focus on traditional metal features and Draiman’s mix of clean and semi-rough vocals. It’s a decent formula, admittedly, and Draiman’s clean vocals are still mystifyingly hypnotic. His rougher vocals still tend to suffer from an identity crisis; you never know if he’s trying to channel reggae-inspired rhythmic grunts or try to do something more melodic. That’s been something that’s earned Draiman both praise and criticism, but it’s clear that his voice is still instantly identifiable. The rest of the band sits just as comfortably as Draiman, for better or for worse. The heaviness hasn’t left, especially in slammers like the great “Open Your Eyes” and the lesser, but still solid “Fire It Up.” The latter also has a great guitar solo from Dan Donegan, something that feels noticeably lacking on Immortalized
Sadly, Disturbed’s lack of invention has reached a fever pitch this time around. Even compared to the massive blur of Indestructible
, this LP has some of the most criminally undercooked tracks ever written by the group. The triad of “You’re Mine”, “Who”, and “Save Our Last Goodbye” is absolutely pitiful, spiraling into each other without a trace of uniqueness. Immortalized
’s singles like “The Vengeful One” and its title track fare better, but don’t even have the catchiness of Ten Thousand Fists
’ “Stricken” or Indestructible
’s title track. Draiman’s vocals spout all the corny, edgy metal lyrics he’s been pushing even into his side project, which take otherwise crowd-pleasing tracks into the territory of cringe. It comes to a head with a totally unneeded and out-of-place cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”, which is driven by pianos and Draiman’s crooning. It’s not the worst cover of the song I’ve ever heard, but it’s a jarring inclusion that breaks the metal energy wide open, but in all the wrong ways. The lows of Immortalized
are so devoid of invention and even perspective that you’d wonder why the band even went on hiatus in the first place.
But then there are the highs, which somehow, some way, shine. Brightly, in fact. “Open Your Eyes”, despite sounding simplistic, hits the ear right and delivers a festival-churning beat, while “Who Taught You How to Hate” has a fantastic chorus that takes from the better parts of Ten Thousand Fists
. It’s sure to be a favorite for fans down the line. “The Light” is a shockingly uplifting track, channeling the same aesthetic as their cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, but with a much more refined composition while still keeping that metal sharpness. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air from the band. “What Are You Waiting For?” is another solid track which overcomes Draiman’s terrible lyrics with smooth shifts into a faster rhythm. The moments where Disturbed perform best on Immortalized
are either brief bits of intrigue or familiar demonstrations of ironclad tradition, but regardless of which, they work.
Disturbed’s return spins its wheels a bit too much to be a top-tier act in their discography, but if you’ve been convinced thus far of the group’s appeal, Immortalized
is likely to satisfy. There are some really solid tracks on the LP, ranging from a startlingly proficient change in tone (“The Light”) to a stronger grip on the group’s resolve in radio metal (“Open Your Eyes”, “Who Taught You How to Hate”). It’s great to have Disturbed back in these moments, but their irritability toward keeping this invention going rears its ugly head just as much, as that brutally dull trifecta of “You’re Mine”, “Who” and “Save Our Last Goodbye” is a sore thumb in a sea of fan-pleasing rock. Lesser examples like “Immortalized” and “The Vengeful One” also turn out relatively underwhelming, and you might as well ignore the Simon and Garfunkel cover entirely (it’s better off that way). In the end, Immortalized
is likely to give fans satiation. It’s Disturbed being Disturbed, for better or for worse. Let’s just hope that their next LP shakes things up at least a little bit more, but in the meantime, you might as well get down with the sickness once again.