Disturbed Asylum Album Review
By: A. Estes
There are two types of bands: those that constantly try to evolve and improve on their sound with each release – to varying degrees of success – and then there are those who find a sound that works, stick with it, and rake in album sales so consistently you could set your watch to them. Disturbed are most certainly the latter. Since their debut with “Sickness” ten years ago, they have been on a rather consistent path, and while their earlier efforts strived to add new dynamics to their core sound, the band have sort of slipped into autopilot for the latter part of their career.
As can be expected, the release of their fifth album, “Asylum,” finds the band plugging away at the same old sound, much to the delight of their core fanbase. Unfortunately, though, you’d have to be a part of that fanbase already in order to appreciate much of what is brought to the table with this album. Much like the band’s previous effort, “Indestructible,” “Asylum” was self-produced and suffers the same mind-numbing fate of featuring too many songs that sound alike and too little variety or technical improvement. Sure, the songs are as riff-driven as ever and the rhythm section is tight as can be, but one can’t help but feel like the band isn’t even trying at this point, knowing full well what works and what sells without thinking for a second about pushing themselves creatively.
It’s not that “Asylum” is a bad album, though. In fact, it’s quite serviceable, if a bit forgettable. There are a few tracks that stick out, though, such as the first single, “Another Way to Die,” which starts off as a sludgy, Alice in Chains-inspired tune before quickly retreating to the tried and true Disturbed formula, with some staccato riffs that breathe life into a sound we’ve heard so many times before. Likewise, the title track benefits from a funky bassline, courtesy of John Moyer, who finally gets his moment in the spotlight. “Serpentine” is the band’s stab at a classic heavy metal style, and is one of the few moments where the album breaks away from predictability. Elsewhere, though, the album feels like nothing more than a set of b-sides from their last two albums, leaving the highlights few and far between.
Overall, “Asylum” is worth checking out for those who just can’t get enough of the band, but for the rest of us, it’s a bit of a downer. At this point in their career, they’ve afforded themselves the opportunity to branch out, but seem insistent on flogging a dead horse. While that dead horse will surely earn them a few more platinum notches on their belt, it doesn’t bode well for the band’s future. Hopefully Disturbed realize that this dead horse will start to smell after a while and move on in the next few albums, otherwise, their fans are likely to get sick of the stench and move on ahead of them. To paraphrase the immortal chants of frontman and Howie Mandel doppelganger David Draiman: “we are all [getting] disturbed!”