It’s Still the Year 2000 for Disturbed

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When something sells you stick with it.

Of all the megasuccessful nü metal bands of the turn of the century, perhaps none have fared better than Disturbed. KoRn suffered acrimonious line-up changes and ill-fated dubstep collaborations. Kid Rock realized he could make more money ripping off country artists instead of rappers. Limp Bizkit imploded and Fred Durst went and got his ass banned from Ukraine for creating propaganda for the Russian government. While others burned out and/or faded away, Disturbed have kept busy over the last two decades by taking their successful formula and, here’s the important part, not changing a fucking thing.

Every two or three years you can expect a new Disturbed album. Every song will be a mid-tempo post-grunge cum chuggy nu-metal amalgamation. The cover art will look like an Evil Ernie drawing. Every person you went to high school with will buy three copies each. Angry underground metal nerds like you and me don’t like Disturbed but it doesn’t matter. Over the years, the thinking man’s Godsmack have sold over 11 million records. That would be ~10,990,000 more albums than your favorite band has ever sold. Theirs is a formula that works.

When Disturbed released their cover of “The Sound of Silence” a couple years ago it looked like the band might make a sea change. Though bordering on unlistenable, their take on the Simon & Garfunkle hit has HALF A BILLION views on YouTube right now. Would DAVID DRAIMAN go the route of Aaron Lewis of Staind and leave his hard rock band to rebrand as some kind of racist country singer man with an acoustic guitar? Disturbed’s latest single, “Are You Ready” appears to answer that question.

It is remarkable that the band has managed to stay so consistent with a sound that every serious-minded rock critic on the planet deemed passé almost two decades ago. Musically, Disturbed are just a white guy rap interlude and an “Oh wah ah ah ah” away from the sound they introduced in 2000. “Are you ready?”, Draiman asks. “Are you ready to meet me at Gadzooks for some novelty tees? Afterwards, we can skate over to Claire’s for value-priced piercings and then get an Orange Julius in the food court.”

The video, a breakdown-worthy piece of art if there ever was one, perfectly captures the aesthetic of a band crystalized in time. There’s a loose narrative about a cyberpunk hacker using siqqq parkour skills and Darth Maul dual lightsaber techniques to defeat surveillance bots so that our protagonist can… attend an underground Disturbed gig. I halfway expected Neo to show up to help the Biker Boyz lead an attack on Vin Diesel.

The song, with its near constant refrain of “Are you ready?” is a throwback to when hard rock bands would create songs tailor-made to soundtrack a trailer for movies about UFC fighters that cannot and will not never back down. While it is technically not a bad song, my tips somehow became frosted while listening.

As a very serious metal fan you might refuse to click play on the video for “Are You Ready”. It doesn’t matter. You’ve already heard the song. You will hear the song again. Time is a flat circle where nü metal is both dead and never died. From now till the heat death of the universe, Disturbed is gonna sell records.

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