Written by: PP on 27/12/2015 09:18:21

We all know the origins of Disturbed and the reason they rose to stardom early on during their career: "Down With The Sickness". In what is arguably the nu-metal song, David Draiman popularized the scratchy, half-screamed/half-sung approach to vocals and became the poster boy for the simplicity and dumbing down of heavy music so that it was radio friendly and suitable for the mainstream. Crunchy, pseudo-heavy guitars that were mostly chord-based and heavily distorted for a heavy effect, these were some of the ingredients despised by metal fans but, in reality, worked as the perfect stepping stone into heavier music for many kids in their teenage years around its release. Afterward, the band struggled to write a hit as balanced between heavy and catchy for many years, until on 2010's "Asylum" they finally evolved away from cliché nu-metal onto something else altogether: arena metal. Much like Avenged Sevenfold and today's arena metal leaders, Five Finger Death Punch, "Asylum" was the album that saw Disturbed embrace riffage that actually qualified as metallic, though without ever leaving the simplicity and the mainstream-friendly approach to their tunes that popularized them in the first place.

Five years later, sixth album "Immortalized" perfects Disturbed's approach to arena metal. The riffs are huge, monumental even, clearly designed for arena-sized stages and festivals in mind. Opener "Immortalized" (disregarding the intro track) is a good example; here the guitars draw from groove metal bands like Lamb Of God, albeit never going in as heavy direction, of course. More importantly, they are more intricate and technical than on previous Disturbed efforts, marking a clear effort on sounding more metal, and perhaps more credible, than in the past. "The Vengeful One" and "Open Your Eyes" are likewise loaded with testosterone and aggressive, but include infectiously catchy, soaring choruses that are as quintessentially Disturbed as they come. Great stuff.

That is, of course, only a part of the story. Tracks like "The Light" and "You're Mine" are in stark contrast, because they are essentially pop songs feigning as mainstream metal songs. They are maddeningly catchy, but I suspect especially the vocal melodies in these songs may be too poppy for most heavy music fans. They are in the minority on the album, however, as the majority of the material focuses on Draiman's unusual rhythm and texture in his vocal delivery, and on riffs that suggest Disturbed want to be something more than just a generic nu-metal and/or arena metal band. Yes, parallels are drawn to Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold in places, but compared to the recent material by both bands, Disturbed certainly come out as the most intelligent and critically acclaimable out of this bunch. "Immortalized" may still not be an argument strong enough to claim Disturbed free from formulaic song structures and radio-friendly approach to songwriting, but it's definitely their most technical and metal album to date. Arena metal doesn't get much catchier than this without reaching too far into the pop realm.

Download: Immortalized, Who, You're Mine, The Vengeful One, Open Your Eyes
For the fans of: Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, Drowning Pool
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.08.2015

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