It’s rare to find a band that correctly identifies when their own music has lost it’s edge and rarer still when said band actively does something about it. Disturbed are one such example, as following their distinctly average fifth studio album Asylum, which felt uninspired and jaded, the band chose to go on a lengthy hiatus to recharge and engage with other projects. Five years on from Asylum and Disturbed are back with their sixth studio album Immortalized, which intended to breathe some new life into the quartet from Illinois.
As soon as the lead guitar of introductory track, The Eye Of The Storm, subsides, it seems Disturbed are straight back to business, with the drop-tuned swagger of Dan Donegan’s guitar and David Draiman’s signature percussive roar in Immortalized. This is continued and improved upon in The Vengeful One, as the band add contrast to their heaviness with a mellow pre-chorus.
However, it quickly becomes obvious that Immortalized is a for-the-fans-only album. The band have tried to incorporate outside influences into their traditionally very strict formula, such as the whammy effect at the end of the pop-inspired Open Your Eyes or the swelling synths that introduce You’re Mine. However, these small bits and pieces on their own aren’t enough to attract new fans and serve purely as a way to add the occasional spice to the long-standing Disturbed formula.
Whilst this helps to add some variety to proceedings, other songs are just hard to place, like The Light, which tries its best to be a ballad, but an off-putting drum beat, an out-of-place vocal style and a short-lived burst into life make the song too confused to be successful. Meanwhile What Are You Waiting For is just painful, as Draiman tries to liven up an otherwise bland chug-fest with a cheesy pop hook that might as well have come from ABBA Gold.
Unfortunately by this point in the record all memories of the promising start is long gone. Who and Save Our Last Goodbye are both equally forgettable, with interchangeable percussive verses, but they reign superior over the following track Fire It Up. If there was ever a way to make the drug lifestyle that often surrounds rock bands uncool, then perhaps this song is the answer. Musically Fire It Up actually stands out from most of the copycat riffing present on the album, as it bounces around Peter Wengren’s groove, but lyrically it reaches new lows, with the forty-two year old Draiman detailing how taking “a puff from the leaves of the devil” gives him “illumination“, “inspiration“, “relaxation” and of course “rejuvenation“.
The record manages to pull itself together for the finish with a heartfelt, if a little bizarre, cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence and two more-inspired Disturbed cuts. Never Wrong brings back the darker sound Disturbed are known for, whilst Who Taught You How To Hate possesses the menace that disappeared from the middle of the record.
Immortalized was not supposed to be a complete re-invention of Disturbed, but it was supposed to feel inspired and fresh. However, Immortalized failed to capture the spirit of Disturbed; managing only to saturate it. There are several moments where the band capture something inspired, however it is too often let down by indistinct riffing and poor lyrics – two signs that a band have run out of ideas. I originally wrote that this might be a for-the-fans-only record, but sadly I don’t even think it qualifies as that.
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