Disturbed made a strong comeback in 2015, releasing the first album since their hiatus, Immortalized. It proved that not only did the band still have musical prowess, but that they still a relevant place within the metal scene. Luckily, the wait for their next album hasn’t been so long, and we’ve already been graced with a new record, Evolution.

Evolution is a pretty apt title for Disturbed’s seventh instalment, considering the content. The most prominent difference from their usual output this time round is that, out of the 10 tracks present, 4 are ballads. After the massive success and appeal that their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” received from the previous record, who can blame them? The band are certainly no strangers to a softer sound, it first being presented in “Darkness” from their second album, Believe, but it’s great to see them push in this direction more.

“Are You Ready”, the first single used to promote Evolution, is a great start. Out of all the tracks present, this feels the most akin to their core sound, with massive guitars and an anthemic chorus, sending out a strong, positive message. This heaviness continues into “No More”, which contains an incredibly catchy riff. It has a slight blues feel to it, and for such a bulky sounding track, it’s got quite a danceable beat to it. “A Reason to Fight” is the first of the ballads on the record. The acoustic guitars and softer vocal delivery from David Draiman are a massive contrast to the harder sounds so far. It’s quite beautiful to listen to. Yet, even though it’s lighter in terms of instrumentation, there are still sections that have just as much power that the band manages with their usual material. The lyrics are extremely relatable, and it’s quite motivating. An ambience kicks in with “In Another Time”, and what proceeds feels very old-school Nu-metal in execution. It progresses into Disturbed’s trademark sound, but constantly switches between these elements to create an interesting dynamic. Some brilliant riffs, combined with distorted vocals help add extra dimension to this. “Stronger on Your Own” has a slow, chugging riff that makes it feel very powerful. It’s a very straightforward song in terms of structure, but this is not a bad thing, as the mood it creates makes it very satisfying to listen to. “Hold On To Memories” is the second ballad of the record. There’s a stunning layering used here that helps build the atmosphere. It’s very minimalistic, not using too many different components, and it helps to bring across the raw emotion in the track, adding unique charm to it. Harsh distortion on “Saviour of Nothing” gives the start of the track an almost electronic feel. This builds into a bulky soundscape, filled with hooks that give it an epic mood. At times, it feels like it could be of the soundtrack to a film. A thundering drum solo helps to bring in a change of pace, followed by some excellent guitar work. The next ballad, “Watch You Burn”, has country vibes to it. The deep bass makes it catchy, and it progresses into a segment that really packs a punch for a song with such a mellow mood. A string section in the later half of the song comes in unexpectedly, but is a very welcome addition. “The Best Ones Lie” is probably the heaviest track on the record. The aggression pierces through here, as Draiman’s vocal delivery becomes more harsh. A blistering guitar solo and colossal drumbeat fill the track with energy. “Already Gone” ends the album on a soft note. It has a sombre tone to it, and is quite sorrowful compared to the rest of the record. It’s a very deep track, giving the proceedings a heavy finish emotionally.

There’s a clear distinction between Evolution and Disturbed’s previous work. Throughout the record, there’s experimentation with different sounds that bring something new to the table. When it comes their core sound in the heavier tracks, it plays it pretty safe, but it’s still a joy to listen to, and each of these tracks have unique quirks that give them their own identity. However, its the ballads that are the biggest departure, and these are some of the band’s strongest work. They took a theme, ran with it, and it’s more than paid off here. They’re stunningly beautiful to listen to, and add a completely new dimension to their music. What I would have loved to have seen, is for them to have pushed this even further. It would have been great to see a double album exploring these two different sides of the coin; one half metal, the other half filled with ballads. I think a band the calibre of Disturbed are not only capable of this, but I feel they’re ready for it (no pun intended.) It would have required more work, sure, but I think the end result would have been even greater. Alas, this is perhaps something for them to consider in the future, and it’s perhaps smarter for them to test the waters a bit before going all-out on this concept. That being said, Evolution is still a fantastic album, and definitely stands alongside their best material.

Final Verdict: The contrast between Disturbed’s core metal sound and acoustic ballads adds a new Dimension to their music. Heavy and loud, but beautiful at the same time.

Tracklist:

  1. Are You Ready
  2. No More
  3. A Reason to Fight
  4. In Another Time
  5. Stronger on Your Own
  6. Hold On To Memories
  7. Saviour Of Nothing
  8. Watch You Burn
  9. The Best Ones Lie
  10. Already Gone
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