How many bands can deal with subjects as wildly diverse as the Holocaust, werewolves, global warming, consumerism, miscarriage, demonic possession, a painful breakup and the corruption of humanity's moral compass? That list has exactly one name on it: Disturbed.
The Chicago-based metal act features one of the fiercest frontmen in the genre: David Draiman. And while scowling, growling, roaring singers are hardly a rarity in metal, it's safe to say that very few of those singers were raised with a strict Jewish upbringing, as Draiman was.
Accordingly, Disturbed's fifth album—and fourth consecutive No. 1—once again showcases Draiman's jarringly eclectic perspective on reality. At times his vision of the world is obviously informed by significant spiritual ideas. But almost as often, Draiman's lyrics bear more resemblance to a horror movie.
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"Never Again" denounces not only the Holocaust, but every other instance of mass murder. Draiman references his Jewish ancestry ("We were hunted for no reason at all/ … Exterminated by the Nazi war machine") and challenges listeners to ensure genocide never happens again. Pondering humanity's many failings, "Innocence" insists that no one actually is. The song laments the failure of justice, but also promises perpetrators of evil, "You'll face your judgment another day/And suffer eternally." "Another Way to Die" confronts consumerism ("Our devotion to our appetites/Betrayed us all/ … Greed and hunger led to our demise).
The achingly poignant "My Child" captures some of Draiman's reflections about a child lost to miscarriage. He recalls how he felt when he learned he would be a father ("I knew that nothing else would ever feel the same/ … What kind of father would I be?"). But it was not to be. Draiman says he would have traded places with his unborn child to save him ("My one desire was to trade my soul for yours"), and he's left contemplating the life that might have been ("The reaper cheated me/Left me yearning for the path I'd come to adore").
"The Infection" says that emotional toxins lingering after a breakup must be purged if the singer is ever going to be healthy again. "Serpentine" offers a cautionary tale of a man seduced by a soul-devouring woman whom he labels "damnation's whore" and "evil personified." The title track mentions sin as a debt to be repaid.
A couple of intense songs refer to the bleak emotional landscape the singer wandered through in the wake of a recent broken engagement. And though they present honest questions and feelings, those songs also blast way past mere grief into something closer to despair and hopelessness. "Asylum" likens the aftermath of that failed relationship to demonic possession ("Terror is coursing in me/ … No more demonic dreams/Destroyer, come tonight/Because her memory is killing me"). "Crucified" appropriates misguided spiritual imagery in an attempt to communicate how deeply someone has been wounded ("Desperation drives me insane/ … I'm crucified/Cold and unwhole again/Crying out and questioning/Will I ever love again? What's the point of anything? … Now I'm dying for your sins").
Other tracks practically revel in violence. "The Animal" creeps into horror schlock as it describes a man morphing into a werewolf and killing unsuspecting victims ("I cannot begin to describe/The hunger that I feel again/ … For the kill is close and I/Will be satisfied/ … And the world around will never hear your cries/An unholy crime/And now we shall both dine/In hell tonight"). Similar grime can be found on "Sacrifice," when a betrayed lover seeks vengeance on the one who rejected him ("Hell has broken free tonight/ … Look at the murder in my eyes/ … You are the reason this began/Even now I can hear you screaming"). "Warrior" celebrates an anonymous combatant's bloodletting martial prowess.
One minute, Disturbed is renouncing genocidal violence and calling humanity to account for its gluttonous over-consumption. The next, its songs are drenched in gory mayhem as a lycanthrope sinks its fangs into a victim or a jilted lover delights in murdering his ex.
Jarring barely begins to cover it.