Verdict: “Immortalized” is the perfect metal album for people who don’t like music with teeth, grit, or a pulse
Do you remember the Spongebob episode where our hero ventures to the Salty Spittoon with Sandy the Squirrel? Of course you do. You also remember Spongebob’s humiliating attempt at manly swagger, an error in judgment that led him to the ultimate defeat: a barstool seat inside the Weenie Hut Jr. complete with a sundae to top off his emasculation.
I bring this up only out of necessity (am I really looking at this band through a critical lens of aquatic cartoon adventure?). Disturbed has long occupied the Weenie Hut Jr. seat in the minds of “serious” metal fans around the world.
They’d have you believe that if you listen to Ten Thousand Fists you’ll forever be condemned to windmill your dread-locked mane alone in your parent’s basement. They’d have you believe that your dream job behind the counter at the guitar shop will never happen because the guy currently behind the counter thinks you’re a doofus.
Personally, I’ve tried my best to avoid these kinds of juvenile judgments. I’m neither a metal-head nor someone who really cares that much, but for once I have to take a stand. Disturbed finally crossed the line that breaks my Swede-like attempt at neutrality. Their new album “Immortalized” is pretty lame.
Honestly, that’s not breaking news. The band’s best material might win eighth place in a 2002 Hot Topic playlist, but it hasn’t aged well. Disturbed sounds tired even by their own lackluster standard.
Of course, wisdom often comes from aging nu-metal musicians, so the band decided to combat creative lethargy with a lethargic tribute to lethargy in grass-form. I’m talking about weed, and, sadly, so is the band. Sure, “taking a puff” from “the leaves of the devil” sounds super spooky, but even the down-tuned guitar crunch can’t turn me into a Satan-worshipping pothead if there’s zero substance (ha) to back up the bark.
“What Are You Waiting For” continues the pseudo-cool angst brigade with chugging guitars and a quasi-rapped chorus that calls to mind anything but this latest addition to Disturbed’s canon. You’ll find yourself recalling a moment when you heard this exact song before, and then you’ll high-five yourself because you realize the song answered its own question: we’re just waiting for the album to end, guys.
You’d probably expect something, namely clever production tricks, to break the monotonous cavalcade of up-tempo rockery; you’d be wrong. Metal’s finest often use engineering boards and sound rooms to create punishing, ruthless atmospherics. But that’s not who we’re talking about.
When you’ve sterilized the sound on your album to the point that it’s rendered as ruthless as pre-packaged pancakes, you have a problem that needs immediate attention. “You’re Mine” just might be the new poster-boy for songs in distress (if you know a song in distress please call the help line).
Soaring choruses, pounding beats and grim-serious swagger hit less like bricks and more like wet pool noodles. This is dandy if you want metal for the summer swim party, but it’s not so spiffy if you’re looking for, well, metal.
The band’s audacious cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” doesn’t fare better. It’s hard to shake the impression that Disturbed thought this rendition would make eagles cry. Unfortunately, you’ll likely give the band the sound of silence for their effort.
In other words, Disturbed is still the same lovable pop metal band of yesteryear we’ve all come to sort of remember. You’re not going to find any substance here or anything resembling a heart-beat, but if you’re looking for a seat at Weenie Hut Jr’s, you’ve got your ticket.