Disturbed – Divisive
Released: November 18, 2022
David Draiman // Vocals
Dan Donegan // guitar/keyboard
John Moyer // Bass
Mike Wengren // drums
Oh-wahahaha!! When Disturbed started releasing new music and announced Divisive in 2022, there was always a question mark on direction. Would they continue on the path they paved in their latter years with melodic-radio-friendly records Immortalized (2015) and Evolution (2018), or would they revert back to their career-defining heavier sounds. The latter seemed unlikely, farfetched and perhaps optimistic. However, Disturbed has delivered pleasantly surprising album, for the most part anyway.
Their COVID-era record, and their first LP in four years feels like a release that pumps out all the best material in the first half, setting a high standard until it takes a bit of a turn. ‘Hey You‘ is where things kicked off for Disturbed this year, and it dropped jaws around the world. The tuning took us back to the early noughties, with iconic vocalist David Draiman delivering the kind of screams and growls that we heard on Believe and The Sickness, which was beyond refreshing.
‘Bad Man‘ feels like a track straight out of 2008’s Indestructible and that’s no exaggeration. Without any glorified intro, guitarist Dan Donegan rips into a chuggy and bouncy rhythm, taking you back a good fifteen years. Whilst Draiman reverts back to a highly melodic chorus, his vocal style remains raw, just like the singles released, maintaining this heavy flavour of Disturbed, and it feels like a triumphant return.
Singles ‘Divisive‘ and ‘Unstoppable‘ both follow on from the first two tracks with the same heavy energy and a constant side of ‘rugged’. It’s really that ‘rugged’ approach to their early records that got the attention of the hard rock and heavy metal world, and they’re showing in 2022 that they’ve still got it. Both these tracks recycle some key sounds from the previous era but with modern production and a fresh take. There’s arguably nothing negative to comment at this point of the record.
‘Love to Hate‘ is kind of the end of a consecutive five-string set of tracks that play into this Disturbed legacy style before the album starts to shift. This song is where the old meets the new, and the more clean vocal and slightly higher tuned sound returns. Draiman channels his Twitter personality lyrically, with a conveyance of frustration at our current divide in the political landscape. This track is probably the happiest medium between the eras of the band. ‘Feeding The Fire‘ fits largely on the spectrum of Immortalized and Evolution without sharing much in the realm of ‘new’ and additive.
‘Don’t Tell Me‘ features Heart‘s Ann Wilson, and well, if you’re into Disturbed‘s rock ballads or even Nita Strauss‘ track ‘Dead Inside‘ with Draiman, you’ll like it, particularly with Donegan absolutely shredding. However, if you’re after the ‘no bullsh*t’ Disturbed classic sound, you might find yourself clicking ‘next’. Before you know it, you’re on the back-end of Divisive and wondering whether it’s going to end like it began (spoiler alert: it does not). ‘Take Back Your Life‘ feels like a deep-cut filler track that’s not particularly bad but again doesn’t offer anything particularly powerful or memorable, besides one of Draiman’s rarely heard “OW”s which is nice to hear. Bassist John Moyer and Drummer Mike Wengren are notably energetic on this record and save the day on the more melodic tracks as their prolong a sense of heaviness throughout, including in tracks like this.
With the final two songs left, you’ll be biting your lip hoping for a bit more heavy. ‘Part of Me‘ delivers this with a level of mediocrity. There’s definitely the heavier elements with Draiman having refined his gruff vocal style and successfully avoiding his more recent clean effort, but it certainly doesn’t match the opening three-to-four tracks of the album. Closing with ‘Won’t Back Down‘, Disturbed end their 2022 effort with a fairly strong finish. With elements of Believe and Ten Thousand Fists seeping into the song structure, it’s an easy head-bang and leaves a positive taste in your mouth. With a few more “OW”s and some “get up, get up”s, you can almost hear Draiman’s old double labret piercing reappearing above his chin.
Overall, Disturbed‘s new album is a pretty good record. Is it great? That decision may be divisive. It’s remarkable to hear the return of their well-rooted heavier foundations in close to half of the record, but seemingly disappointing for the half to continue on from their more recent two records, honing in on their contemporary softer and more melodic side. A notably higher rating goes to the record for giving fans a strong dose of their earlier and heavier era.
Disturbed – Divisive tracklisting
1. Hey You
2. Bad Man
5. Love to Hate
6. Feeding the Fire
7. Don’t Tell Me (featuring Ann Wilson)
8. Take Back Your Life
9. Part of Me
10. Won’t Back Down