Disturbed – Immortalized

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At this point, Disturbed aren’t even trying anymore.

They’re barely trying to impress critics with their ditching of Nu Metal. When Believe first came out, it was pathetic. Disturbed tried hard to impress people by ditching rapping and electronics, as if removing elements from your music is somehow a hard thing to do.

The further they got into their career, the more serious their music became. Disturbed don’t make silly Hard Rock. You get nothing like Drowning Pool’s “One Finger and a Fist”. That’s a vulgar song about not giving a fuck with a half-rapped chorus.

Everything on Immortalized is sung with pseudo-operatic vocals whose sole purpose is to make you take the band seriously. Fun songs have melodies. Pseudo-operatic singing just stretches the syllables instead of letting the melody come through. That’s how bad it is. If Disturbed hoped that their melodies woulde carry through their boring sound, now they don’t even have that. They hope that kids will be impressed by stretched syllables.

Don’t narrow-minded metalheads care more about wanking guitar solos, rather than vocals? It’s not like Disturbed went full technical. There’s a grinding riff in the title track and bragging lyrics in “The Vengeful One”. At its heart, it’s a Nu Metal record. They just stripped Nu Metal of everything that made it fun. Just when you think you get a dance song in “You’re Mine”, Draiman comes in with all his humorlessness. That reminds me of that David Guetta song about being titanium. There’s no parking on the dancefloor and no seriousness in dance music. Stop that crap.

“Fire It Up” is the record’s most rotten apple. Draiman discovers marijuana. I’m happy for him, but musicians have worshipped weed from before Cypress Hill. Still, listening to that song will make you think smoking weed is a serious activity for serious people and that you’re not allowed to laugh while high. “When I fire it up, I feel like serenity is mine”? The verses make Draiman sounds like he’s nothing without weed.

Maybe that’s the problem. Disturbed ran out of ideas and so all they have is weed. Now, I’d be interested to hear a Disturbed album that’s all about smoking weed. “Fire It Up” has more life in it than anything here. Most of the album is typical anthems about nothing played with a straight face. There is Dark Ambient music with more fun than this. I have no idea how you can fuck up a song called “Who Taught You How to Hate” but that’s Disturbed for you.

1.5 vengeful ones out of 5

Shinedown – Threat to Survival

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All the talent in the world won’t help you if you don’t have an idea what you want to be. “Cut the Cord” is a brilliant rocker and nothing here sounds like it. It’s the one song where Shinedown lets loose and just let themselves rock.

Shinedown have been moving away from Post-Grunge ever since Amaryllis. Trying to find new sounds after mastering your comfort zone is great, but Sound of Madness isn’t a transcending masterpiece. It’s just a really good Hard Rock album full of hooks that makes you hope that they got more hooks in store.

Shinedown never sounded like they needed a makeover, and so far it’s not convincing. They’re not adding new sounds, but just removing the Post-Grunge antics and replace them with empty stadium boomings. Stadium Rock can be a lot of fun, but there’s no fun in tracks like “It All Adds Up”.

The sentimentality of “How Did You Love?” can be tolerated in an otherwise more fun record. Here, it sounds like Shinedown are believing their own bullshit. Imagine if Nickelback wanted you to think “Gotta Be Somedy” is a profound song. There is nothing profound or deep about Hard Rock. That’s the whole point of the genre.

There’s an attempt to chuck guitar riffs and drums for textures and some atmospherics. What they hope to achieve with these atmospherics is unclear. The atmosphere is never distinct. There are no sounds to uncover with repeated listenings. When Linkin Park threw away guitars, they piled a lot of other noises that made their melodies and rapping stick out more. Shinedown has few riffs here, and a lack isn’t an impressive achivement.

On songs that Shinedown are supposed to master, they sound clueless. They proved they could make a beautiful ballad without guitars with “Through the Ghost”. They just kept a small string section and vocals. “Misfits”‘s musical backdrop sounds like it’s supposed to be an epic closer, but the vocals sing intimate lyrics. “Dangerous” is supposed to be a sequel to “Cut the Cord”, but there are no riffs and the lyrics are too serious. Being dangerous isn’t very dangerous anymore. Society loves dangerous people. That’s why James Dean is a sex symbol.

Nothing here is bad. Shinedown got enough melodies to the album pleasant enough. It’s even refreshing how the album is more focused on the melodies rather than making noise. Still, the end result sound too lifeless. There some songs to put on the playlist, but it Shinedown’s future doesn’t look so bright.

2.5 blackĀ CadillacsĀ out of 5

Bring Me the Horizon – That’s the Spirit

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Bring Me the Horizon are, what, the 3rd Metalcore act to abandon the genre for Nu Metal? It used to be the opposite.

The change Bring Me made is amazing. Linkin Park will be name-dropped in almost every review of this album and they should be. There is a similarity in sound, but what they both have in common is the desire to re-invent themselves. When this guy blasted songs from Sempiternal I was shocked at how different it was. When I blasted “Happy Song” a different guy was shocked it was the same band.

What is it in fame that causes some artists to fall apart, and others to aim high? It seems that with every new album, Bring Me are trying to justify their existence and popularity. They don’t try to justify it to people who dislike them because they’re not Iron Maiden. They know “Pray for Plagues” is barely worth being a demo. I still think the only reason it got popular is because of that porn sample in the end.

So That’s the Spirit is another reinvention, but it sounds necessary. It doesn’t sound like an exercise to impress anymore. Sykes talked about this being a concept album about depression. Now, whenever artist talk about their albums having a concept they tend to bullshit (even if the concept exists). Sykes’ statement isn’t complete bullshit, though. The album sounds way more sincere than anything like it.

Reaper

Speaking of depression…

The orignal Nu Metallers didn’t understood their emotions. They just vented them. That makes for great music to work out to, but there aren’t many songs to point to and say ‘this is sums up the feeling’. The revivalists had time contemplating their emotions while blasting Slipknot. Like Islander and My Ticket Home, Bring Me’s are more focused on a certain subject or emotion.

That’s how you get the brilliant “Happy Song”. The lyrics sum up the reason such loud music exist. We sing a little fucking louder and it doesn’t solve our problems, but it sure makes us feel better. Sykes sound desperate to break out of the depression in the chorus (Notice how he emphasizes the word ‘fucking’. It sounds necessary this time). Then he moves to subdued vocals, admitting that he has no idea what to do with the storm in his head. The song ends with a breakdown and Sykes screaming the album title like he knows it doesn’t help but it’s better than nothing. It’s a song about fighting the depression that still acknowledges we can’t really get rid of that storm

The album can easily be divided to songs that get close to the song, and those that get a little lost. Nothing here is outright bad, but sometimes the idea of moving to melodic Rock gets the better of them. It’s weird to hear “Happy Song”, “Throne” and “Oh No” next to “Run” and “What You Need”. The latter songs sound like B-Sides that got big hooks but no conceptual focus.

The band is talented enough to make these songs worth blasting. Sykes’ vocals deserve a praise. He clearly sounds like a vocalist who only discovered melody recently. There’s an aggressive edge to his voice. He doesn’t need the Deahtcore growls anymore. His vocals with the thundering vocals in “Happy Song” are enough to make it sound heavy as a really heavy thing.

On the more conceptual half, the band sounds unstoppable. You’ve heard songs like “Follow You” and “Throne” before, but not like this. There have been many empowering songs, but few like “Throne”. Like Islander’s “Counteract”, it doesn’t sound angry. Sykes sound pretty happy on the verses. Covering it as a happy Pop song should be easy. On the former he’s transformed to a wimp who can’t help being attracted to someone that’s bad for him. He performs the song with all the vulnerability and hopeless the subject deserves. It’s the complete opposite of “Throne”.

Some songs land right in the middle. There is a great fuck-off song buried somewhere in “True Friends”. The punchline sure sounds good over such loud guitars, but all the other lyrics sound like they were copied from songs by lesser bands. It’s hard to believe some people still write lines like “It fell apart/right from the start”. Some just sound like B-Side, like the aforementioned “Run”. Nothing in it makes you want to turn down the volume, but it lacks something special. It’s just a good Hard Rock hook.

Even if it couldn’t utilize its concept in all the songs, it’s still a great Nu Metal album. It’s the sound of a band who experimented a lot, and now want their songwriting to carry them. They use their sound to enhance already good hooks. Even if there’s a gap of quality between songs like “Oh No” and “What You Need”, everything is worth spinning at least five times. Let’s just hope Bring Me won’t pull a back-to-basics record. They have too much personality and melodic talent to churn another Deathcore record.

3.5 happy songs out of 5