There is no bigger band in hard rock right now than Disturbed. Over the past decade, they have helped to revolutionize the popularity of aggressive music, both in America and the world. From their stunning debut The Sickness to the thrilling masterpiece Indestructible, Disturbed is the face of heavy music for the majority of the world. They may not be the heaviest or most aggressive band out, but they are the one that people will name most often when discussing the genre. It also doesn't hurt that they are among the most intelligent, socially conscious bands in the world, and that their lyrics speak for the forgotten, abused, and neglected of an entire generation. Their fifth album, Asylum, sees Disturbed at their most ambitious since 2005's Ten Thousand Fists, crafting new and intricate songs that show a remarkable sonic evolution.
The opening of Asylum is all it takes to show that Disturbed has begun trying new things and wants to branch out more. For the first time in their career, an instrumental track, "Remnants", opens the album, providing an excellent introduction into the album's title track. Much of the album is focused on groove and precision structure, similar to 2002's Believe. Tracks like "Crucified" and "Serpentine" demand movement with the flow of the music. At the same time, there is also a greater emphasis placed on tempo and pacing throughout the album. Parts on "The Infection" and "Innocence" move much faster than typical songs of the band's history, while "Another Way to Die" and "Sacrifice" are slower and more deliberate in their composition. All of these elements keep the album interesting and varied from beginning to end. On top of the musical expansion, the album also covers new lyrical territory for Disturbed, as they attack historical subjects like the Holocaust ("Never Again"), current issues like global warming ("Another Way to Die"), and topics in the realms of fantasy like werewolves ("The Animal") and demons ("Serpentine").
At its core, though, Asylum is still a Disturbed album, with the key elements of their sound still perfectly intact. Nothing represents this better than the title track, which may be one of the strongest, catchiest songs the band has written in their entire career. With its infectious bass line, memorable lead riff, and sing-along lyrics, "Asylum" stands alongside "Down With the Sickness", "Prayer", "Stricken", and "Inside the Fire" in the tradition of near-perfect singles from Disturbed. "Never Again" and "Warrior" also fit in well with the band's history, showing that Disturbed has not lost sight of their roots in their effort for progression. Also still present are David Draiman's lyrics about personal heartbreak, struggles, and loss. Some tracks come from Draiman's own personal experiences, while others are more general topics that most of the band's fans will relate to. Either way, these parts of Asylum link it perfectly with the band's previous albums while still allowing it to maintain its own identity.
Asylum is undoubtedly one of the strongest albums in Disturbed's storied career. The Chicago quartet has only gotten better with time, finding their stride and never straying from their origins. If Ten Thousand Fists is the large tiger of Disturbed's discography, oversized with more muscle than necessary, and Indestructible is the lean jaguar, fine-cut to just the foundation and essentials, then Asylum is the lion, king of the jungle, perfectly balanced in both core strength and added power to create the purest musical engine for emotional expression. This album is one that Disturbed can be extremely proud of, and it is one that fans will enjoy for many years to come.
Score: 7 out of 10
3. The Infection
5. Another Way to Die
6. Never Again
7. The Animal
10. My Child
David Draiman – Lead vocals
Dan Donegan – Guitar, backing vocals
John Moyer – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Mike Wengren – Drums, backing vocals