Review Summary: If asked to choose the weakest Disturbed album, this would be the natural selection.
Cashing in on the radical commercial success of their 2015 Simon and Garfunkel cover ‘The Sound of Silence’, Disturbed have decided that an over-saturation of sappy ballads is the next step in their so-called Evolution
. Genetically engineered for mass-appeal, soccer mums everywhere will rejoice as they jam the latest Disturbed tracks alongside their angsty teenage kids. Without exaggeration, this latest release consists mostly(!) of forlorn acoustic dirges, stripped back to showcase David Draiman’s clean singing and newly naked chin. I'll be the first to admit the frontman has vocal chops - he sounds good - but this softening move comes at the expense of everything that makes Disturbed, well, Disturbed. Generally speaking, Evolution
consists of two halves alternating in a trouble-helix, each of which can be addressed collectively since every ballad is pretty much the same ballad, and every non-ballad is pretty much the same non-ballad. Albeit, there are superficial differences here and there, but for the most part these tracks stick to predictable structures and similarly bland tones. How fun.
Let’s begin, as the album does, by analysing lead single ‘Are You Ready’. I was
ready. This opener is possibly the most clichéd collection of Disturbed tropes put to tape. If a Disturbed cover band went rogue and started mashing up their rehearsal material for the purpose of churning out on-the-spot “originals”, this is what I imagine the result would sound like. It almost comes across as a parody. The first ballad, ‘A Reason to Fight’, doesn't fare much better either. It's pleasant enough, but it's also completely forgettable, boring, safe, and just disappointing in general. This unfortunate pair of songs can be taken as a microcosm of the full collection; this is about the extent of what is on offer. The frustrating desire for something daring or interesting is never satiated. To be blunt, Evolution
is essentially a blander version of Immortalized
, which was the flavourless porridge version of Asylum
, which was the graham cracker version of Indestructible
. Even the song titles are uninspired. ‘Hold On To Memories’ is an ironic reminder that you’re unlikely to recollect a solitary riff or lick from this utterly unmemorable album, while musically it adds one more to the pile of disposable ballads.
Surprisingly, there are some decent moments here and there. ‘The Best Ones Lie’ features some of the vitality that made Disturbed appealing in the first place. It doesn't stand out much from the general catalogue, but it's a gem by comparison to everything else featured. Hell, there's even a tasty solo halfway through. Similarly, ‘Already Gone’ is superior to every other ballad here, with some intriguing compositions, glassy guitar lines, and a soulful performance by Draiman. Unfortunately, both of these songs are buried at the back of the album, emerging far too late to save the experience and standing severely outnumbered compared to the remaining dredge. With the triumphant position of the weakest songs, it's a little too easy to call it “survival of the shittest” in honour of the nonsensical album title, and while I usually dislike being crass and transparently facetious in reviews, this performance hardly merits a formal critique. Better to keep myself amused in the face of this disappointing regression into banality than to dwell on it, seeing as how it has continued since Disturbed’s return, and arguably began a little earlier than that.