To many music fans, Disturbed are a typical nu-metal band. That’s fine when nu-metal was popular, but when it collapsed, being the poster boys of that genre took on a whole different meaning. Disturbed are now considered by some as a band which demonstrates all that’s wrong with nu-metal. So, what could they do? They could be like Linkin Park, and continue to be the nu-metal band that they have always been and hope that their fans stick with them and keep buying their albums; or they could follow in Papa Roach’s footsteps and evolve and add new ingredients to their music, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.
Well, for their third record, this Chicago based four piece did a little of both. “Ten Thousand Fists” is kind of like a combination of their first two albums. Most of the songs (i.e. “Just Stop” and “I’m Alive”) have both aggressive vocals and “Believe”-esque clean singing, and singer David Draiman doesn’t scat (or make monkey noises) as much as he did five years ago. But some of the songs (like “Stricken,” “Sons of Plunder,” and “Decadence”) bring “The Sickness” to mind, and most of these riffs are heavier and less mellow than those of “Believe.”
But this album also has a few new things. For instance, most nu-metal bands usually steer clear of guitar solos, but, perhaps in an attempt to rid themselves of the nu-metal label, guitarist Dan Donegan sprinkles on a few solos, here. Plus, Draiman shows his newfound political awareness on the bold album closer, “Avarice.”
The lead single, “Guarded,” is a good example of the album as a whole. It begins with a strong, propulsive, jackhammer riff, but the beat then turns to bobbing riffs with staccato vocals, and the song climaxes with a melodic chorus. Some clean singing and a guitar solo are also slipped into the mix, here. “Stricken” is the other single. It has some of David’s famous scat, and its choppy, Motorhead-influenced riff and rhythm make it sort of sound like Disturbed’s 2002 single, “Liberate.” Other album highlights include the skipping riffs on “Deify,” “Overburdened” (a slower song and a monotony breaker), the very angry and aggressive “Decadence,” “Forgiven” (which has a wah-wah solo), and the crunchy, almost explosive riffs on “Sacred Lie.”
“Ten Thousand Fists” does have a few flaws, though. Aside from having a few guitar solos, it doesn’t really show Disturbed evolving or maturing. Plus, not all of the lyrics are great. Draiman is none-too-worried about hitting cliches in the song “I’m Alive,” which features the somewhat confusing line “You’ll never take me alive!” Fortunately, this album is catchy, contagious/infectious, and energetic enough to make up for these flaws, and make it possibly Disturbed’s best and most mature album to date.
So, “Ten Thousand Fists” has defied the critics and shown the world that there is indeed life after nu-metal…even for Disturbed! If you like nu-metal or if you enjoy Disturbed’s first two discs, this album is made for you. If you don’t enjoy this genre or this band, however, this album won’t change your mind, so you’ll want to give it a wide birth. But if you’re only so-so on nu-metal, don’t immediately dismiss this as “just another nu-metal album.” Go ahead…give this disc a whirl, and pump your fists in the air to the songs of “Ten Thousand Fists.”