Review Summary: Disturbed do what they’ve always done, this time drawing from their classic era.
Over the last few days, I’ve become reacquainted with Disturbed’s entire discography. I’ve always enjoyed their pre-hiatus music, but I haven’t been a recurring listener since 2008’s Indestructible
and I felt like I needed to refresh my memory. In hindsight, it feels like each new album has been a fight for relevance; the band attempting to prove they could still operate within shifting musical trends, and mostly succeeding. They dropped the overt nu metal influence when it went out of style, they softened their sound when mainstream rock was trending, they got heavier and added guitar solos when public opinion swayed towards the heavier side of metal, and they capitalized on the momentum of “The Sound of Silence” by filling their next release with ballads and big arena rock choruses. Every change has led to another successful release, but regardless of stylistic alterations, they’ve always sounded like Disturbed. On Divisive
, Disturbed do what they’ve always done by making some small adjustments, but otherwise sounding just like Disturbed.
effectively built on the success of “The Sound of Silence”, it also alienated a lot of Disturbed’s earliest fans – Divisive
feels like an apology to those fans. Divisive
is full of classic Disturbed metal, skirting the line between The Thousand Fists
with only hints of the big arena rock of their previous two releases. Of all three pre-release singles, “Unstoppable” and “Divisive” are the two most representative of the album. If by some chance you’re reading this but haven’t listened to any of the singles, these songs feature the classic rhythmic delivery the band is known for throughout all facets of their sound, a minor industrial undercurrent, energetic aggression, and strong choruses. The difference between these two songs and “Hey You” is in the effectiveness of the chorus. “Unstoppable” and “Divisive” both feature strong choruses that seamlessly flow between verses, while “Hey You” uses the same momentum-killing area rock chorus that ruined so much of Immortalized
For longtime fans, the big choruses that make up quite a bit of Divisive
will be the biggest issue. While a lot of them work (if just barely) within the context of the song they’re still jarring enough that it will take a few listens to appreciate them. It’s the other songs such as “Love to Hate” or the aforementioned “Hey You” that have their driving verses and infectious grooves halted by awkward-fitting big choruses that are the main problem. Fortunately, there are enough standout tracks such as “Bad Man”, “Part of Me”, and “Won’t Back Down” that Divisive
should have more than enough to bring back long-time fans that haven’t been happy with post-hiatus Disturbed. For those that came into the Disturbed fold for “The Sound of Silence” there is the album’s sole ballad, “Don’t Tell Me”, which features Ann Wilson of Heart. This song is clearly built for the “Sound of Silence” crowd and will almost certainly be another successful single.
For better or worse, there’s nothing new or surprising about Disturbed’s eighth release. On Divisive
, the band don’t step outside their comfort zone, they don’t add any new elements, they don’t push the envelope on their established formula, they’re just Disturbed – but they’re Disturbed from their classic era, which is better than nothing. This also means Divisive
won’t be changing anyone’s opinion on the band; you either already like them or you don’t. However, for those that were raised on Disturbed’s first three albums and slowly fell away with each subsequent release, Divisive
may just be the album that brings them back.