Like it or not, the 90s were a revolutionary time for heavy music. Korn created a new sonic landscape and changed lyrical approach, making everything starkly and bleakly personal. Art rock was birthed a legend in the form of Deftones. The best album of all time came from Refused. Due to Newton’s third law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every Korn we got a Linkin Park. Every Deftones, a Clawfinger. For The Shape of Punk to Come, we got The Sickness. The second law of thermodynamics states that matter can not be destroyed, so that may go some way to explaining why Disturbed are still inflicted upon us in 2018.
Let’s start with the positives. It’s well produced. You’d expect that given how much money must have been invested. Now, onto the negatives.
With their seventh studio album, Evolution, Disturbed are making an even more blatant play for the mainstream than ever before. If this is their evolution, it makes that observed in Darwin’s Origin of species look like a hundred metre sprint. The album is easily split into two halves: the sub nu-metal “rock” songs, like lead single Are You Ready?, and tawdry ballads like A Reason to Fight. The latter of which makes Creed sound like Tool. The two are perfect examples of everything wrong with the songwriting on offer. It’s built on well worn cliches, and lacks any real imagination. Presumably the ballads are there to appeal to middle America who don’t want any danger in their rock music. Who knows why the metal tracks are even here? They serve no purpose given the band’s perceived ambition.
To their credit, Disturbed try something new on this album. They turn their hand to contemporary politics. The reason no good musicians, comedians or satirists use Trump as a tool on their work is because it’s too easy a target. Luckily for Disturbed, they’re of an equal IQ to the incumbent President. The trite cackhandedness of In Another Time, can essentially be boiled down to ‘the government totally sucks, man.’ Way to fight the system there, David!
There’s no thought put into the structure of this album. It chops and changes between allegedly heavy songs and the already maligned ballads without any sense of natural flow. In the run up to its release, Disturbed said they wanted this to be their Black Album. In the sense that their has been a stylistic change to accommodate mainstream sensibilities, then they’ve succeeded. That god-awful cover of The Sound of Silence has a lot to answer for. The difference between ambition and reality however is that The Black Album is brilliant, and this is banal at best. Atrocious at its worst.
Musically, it’s your standard fair; dull, uninspired and simply there to provide a backdrop to David Draiman’s warbling. The only point of sonic interest is one bridge section in The Best Ones Lie, in which a few atonal chords are played. That’s as much credit as Dan Donegan deserves for this performance. Three seconds in a forty minute album. And good god is it a long forty minutes.
This album is going to go down a storm with Distrubed’s already entrenched fan base. It’s hackneyed and inoffensive, so it won’t bother their mothers, but “metal” enough that it appears cool. All style and no substance. If you have musical taste however, give this one a miss. The sad truth is that this may well be their Black Album, because there are loads of stupid people out their buying bad albums. This is a terrible album, but it’ll make a fortune.