Three years removed from their comeback after an extended hiatus DISTURBED return with new album Evolution (out now, Reprise/Warner Bros. Records). In the time since 2015’s Immortalized the band has toured like crazy and enjoyed even bigger success than before thanks to some of the best writing they’d done in a long time. “The Light” from that record is still a Top 5 DISTURBED song for me. So naturally I was excited to get my hands on this new one, which I’ve had for about a week now. I know the listening public is very much divided on this band, but they’re routinely packing 20,000 seaters; no easy feat for rock/metal bands in 2018. I’ve also seen them live three times and they bring it at each and every show.
So let’s get down to brass tacks regarding this record. Parts of it are very, very good. For example, opener “Are You Ready” is vintage DISTURBED in that it’s got David Draiman’s signature staccato vocals and shouts over Dan Donegan’s riffs mixed with some electronic elements. One thing these guys excel at is opening their albums with a bang, and this one is no exception. This leads us into “No More”, a loud, politically charged anthem that is also a headbanger and fist-pumper, and never more true than now. Quite frankly this one-two punch would be the perfect start to their live setlist on the upcoming tour. And once again Kevin Churko’s production is excellent. I always love the way he records drums.
My issues, though minor, start with next song “A Reason to Fight.” While it’s a lovely number and its anti-suicide message is something I will fully stand behind, I question placing it so early in the tracklisting. You’ve just rocked our faces off and then you bring the train to a screeching halt with a ballad? I would have put this somewhere around track five or six, but that’s just me. Things get decidedly more upbeat with “In Another Time” and “Stronger On Your Own,” the latter having an almost pendulum-type of swing courtesy of drummer Mike Wengren and bassist John Moyer.
Don’t look now, but here comes Ballad #2 with “Hold On to Memories.” This is actually one of my favorites on the disc, and I’m sure it will be a single at some point. I just pray mainstream rock radio doesn’t run it into the ground. Who am I kidding, of course they will. “Savior of Nothing” is another great cut, both lyrically and musically, thanks to Donegan coming up with yet another tasty riff to add to his arsenal. One of the more unique-sounding tunes comes in the form of “Watch You Burn” aka Ballad #3. It’s acoustic with a nice kick drum beat, and Draiman does some of his finest singing here. Eight songs in and three are showing the band’s softer side…not necessarily a bad thing.
“Best Ones Lie” has us rocking once again, Draiman spitting venom on the verses before engaging in one of the more sing-along-y choruses. The band ups the ante in the second half, with Donegan going off. Closing the disc is Ballad #4 “Already Gone.” Gotta be honest, I wasn’t really a fan of this one. And quite frankly on a record with four ballads, I would have hoped for at least twelve songs. It’s not a bad thing for the band to have an Evolution (see what I did there?) in their sound. They are getting older, after all. And even the mightiest of lions will roll over and let you rub their soft underbelly at some point. So overall, yeah DISTURBED did a good job here, and this record should garner them some new fans while still pleasing the ones who’ve been around since The Sickness.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Are You Ready”, “No More”, “Hold On to Memories”, “Watch You Burn”, “Best Ones Lie”
Too many ballads for me.
Agreed. If you’re gonna have four of em on an album of ten songs, you need at least two more heavy tunes to balance it out.