The pale blue glow of the anti junkie UV lighting set the mood perfectly. David sat, dictaphone gripped tightly in his hand, placed between his legs, only inches above the shimmering water. A single groan, then a splash. It was over in seconds. A whole weeks cheesy pasta and Vimto evacuated into the ceramic cradle.
His whole body trembled with excitement. Dollar signs ran through his mind as he played back the recording. A platinum album? A Grammy? Certainly the most exciting thing ever to happen in the toilet stall of Frank’s Studs & Stallions gay bar. Little did he know that just last month, the actor who played Principal Belding in Saved By The Bell was violently beaten right where he sat. The man made it to the parking lot before he died.
David could barely contain himself in the taxi. Arriving home, he dashed to his computer and violently thrust the dictaphone up to the microphone he had rigged. Pro Tools opened even slower than usual, he thought. Or was it just the anticipation. Almost too tense to control the mouse, he clicked the record icon & pressed the rewind button, then play. Captured in digital glory, the chart topping plop. 2 seconds. He adjusted the playback setting. 1800 speed would be about right. No, too slow. 2500, closer. 2650, too fast. 2626. Spot on. The clarity was unbelievable. Immediately he opened his hotmail account, an erection bulging in his cheap nylon bondage trousers. The email he wrote contained only 5 words. “I shall call it Asylum.” *
Yes, that’s right, multi-platinum nu-metal titans, Disturbed are back with their 5th album. Now, I’ve always been partial to their first album, The Sickness. The album’s charm lay in its unintentional humour & the almost accidental way the band stumbled into genius choruses. Whilst their first major hit, Down With The Sickness intended to cover the issue of child abuse, it was in fact a hilarious, catchy pop metal tune that fills dancefloors in shitty metal clubs to this day. In an attempt to be taken seriously as a proper metal band, they’ve neglected to include any hooks at all this time around. Unfortunately, they don’t have the talent or creativity to stand on musical merit alone & the end result is an entirely forgettable collection of songs.
An unnecessary intro track leads into the title track where Draiman reminds us that he was always the only good thing about the band. His vocals sit high in the mix & their clarity & delivery is perfect. It is just a shame that the initial momentum grinds to a halt by track 3. Songs begin to blend together as the same formula is recycled again & again. Another Way To Die starts off well enough with a slow build-up before kicking into some groovy guitar work. It has the best chorus of the album & marks the one of the few positive points of the whole thing.
On the song Never Again, they tackle the ever popular topic of the Holocaust. Now, we’ve seen it handled to varying success/inappropriateness in black metal, thrash metal. Hell, even power metal had a go but if you are, like me, thinking that nu-metal doesn’t have the prerequisite maturity to take on something so serious, then you’d be right. Hearing Davey Draiman sing “Exterminated by the Nazi war machine” the same way he delivers lines like “Get up, come on get down with the sickness” somewhat undermines the weightiness of the subject matter, which makes you wonder if he had to be talked out of putting in some of his trademark monkey noises in too.
The Animal does begin with some of Mad Davey’s trademark “Ooh Waka Waka Waka”s but without a memorable chorus, it just serves to highlight the flaws with this album. My Child is yet another mis-step as they examine the miscarriage of Draiman & his ex-partner’s child. It begins tastelessly enough with a newborn child’s cries but ending with the beeping of a heart monitor is a masterstroke of meatheaded insensitivity. I know Down With The Sickness managed to pull off the whole serious topic, silly song thing but it wasn’t intended & it definitely doesn’t pay off here.
Ending with a hidden track is the ultimate homage to 2002 when bonus tracks preceded by a couple of minutes of silence were all the rage but I really wish it had stayed hidden. Having hit on such serious topics as genocide, stillbirth, global warming & um, lycanthropy, they sign off with a cover of U2′s pop-rock travesty, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. If you can’t imagine what Disturbed covering U2 sounds like, lucky you! Keep it that way.
For anyone who’s read this far & is still in doubt about the calibre of creative genius we are dealing with, drummer Michael Wengren explained, on being asked the meaning behind the album name:
This is a good question. ‘Asylum’ basically has a dual meaning. Most people assume when you talk about an asylum it’s like an insane asylum. There are definitely some aspects of the music that would tie in with that. At the same time, asylum also has another meaning where it means a safe haven, a safe place. So it just seemed to really fit this body of work and what we stand behind.
It is unclear if he followed this up with a “Derp, derp, derp” but it seems likely.
Disturbed have taken their 1 redeeming feature, catchy hooks, & replaced them with a shot at a more mature sound. Imagine Trivium without the guitar ability, Mudvayne without the slap bass. Without their pop sensibilities, there is nothing left to elevate them above mediocrity. They should take a leaf from the Book of Durst. Don’t attempt to grow up, just dress like an overweight, 40 year old man-child & you’ll sell out shows through nostalgia alone.