One thing a lot of bands come into criticism for is changing their sound too much or pandering to the mass-market with new releases, but this is certainly not the case with Disturbed’s latest release, Asylum, as it’s definitely got their signature sound of heavy, syncopated riffs mixed with David Draiman’s unique vocal style. The songs on Asylum could not be attributed to any other band; which is in part a good and a bad thing. Stand out tracks such as ‘The Infection’ and ‘Warrior’ carry with them all the best elements that the band has worked hard to produce over the last ten years, and the songs unite the sounds of their previous albums, from The Sickness right through to Indestructible. However there are far too many tracks on the album that rely on a rather simple formula and are just missing the spark that made their previous records so special.
There are some elements of evolution in the music that Disturbed have produced with Asylum, for example Draiman has recorded a lot more harmonies on the vocals that work very well; he’s a very good singer as well as being able to pull off his distinctive screams. Similarly the guitar work shows signs of improvements over previous albums, with the solos being fit for all fans of the metal genre. Despite these improvements, however, there’s just a little bit too much wrong with the album for it to be an exciting new release.
The mastering of the album is slightly off, with the vocals at times lost behind a wall of sound produced by the guitars and the thudding drums, yet even when the vocals are crystal clear they just seem somewhat lacklustre. Draiman has scrapped the use of metaphor and symbolism that allowed him to poetically deal with the darker side of life. Instead he deals with the same subjects – death, loss, love – but with direct lyrics which ultimately end up sounding overly simplistic and don’t really convey properly the depth of the material.
Overall, Asylum has its merits but has rather glaring faults too; it’s a fairly solid offering from the Chicago quartet with material which will keep long term fans happy and listening, but it’s rather unlikely to draw in new listeners. The Limited Edition version has some rather enjoyable additions of two live performances and a rather amusing cover of U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, but personally I’d implore you to look at their 2005 release Ten Thousand Fists for Disturbed performing at their best.