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The Sickness

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★★★★☆
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  • I bought Disturbed’s THE SICKNESS, after not being able to get “The Game” out of my head following the third time I heard it on the “Funky Monkey” FM station here in Tacoma. This was already after I had heard “Stupify” (which I had originally thought was called “StupidFly”), “Voices” and “Down With The Sickness” for the hundredth time, each. While I kinda liked each song to some extent, I had always found myself making fun of them, especially with lead vocalist David Draiman’s unique, and often annoying, vocal ticks and mannerisms (including the repetitive “Zooooo-ah!!!” in “Voices” and “OH-WA-A-A-A-AH!!” in “Down With The Sickness”). But then, I heard “The Game” and I decided, what the…”The Game” has everything: Great keyboard sound, great drumbeat/bass, knife-edged guitar in all the right places, and a masterful combination of wistful-sounding, melodic, tenor-pitched singing with angry screaming that has all the impact of a kick to the head. And, you can dance to it! (Although I don’t dance.) Above anything and everything else on this CD, “The Game” is a masterpiece–of its time and genre.As I finally got around to playing the rest of the CD, I found that (to my surprise) most of the other songs are very good, and do not sound very much like each other. That really surprised me, because I had found the first three songs I had heard by them to be a bit too similar to each other (especially “Voices” and “Down With The Sickness”). Although similar themes are rotated around quite a bit on the CD, there is much greater variety in the music than I had expected to hear. “Violence Fetish” has a heavy-industrial sound, and the hook line “Bring the Violence/It’s significant” is used to good effect. “Numb” begins with a new-age swirl of keyboards at the beginning that is both surprising and fresh, “Want” has a funky feel, and “Conflict” with its repeated snarls of “enemy” is dark, intriguing–but that’s not all! It also features soft, almost soothing vocals from David Draiman in its quiet bridge, before letting loose with heavy rhythm; Draiman uses his synthesized voice as its own instrument here, as he repeats “Eh-eh-eh-eh-ENEMY!!!”Now, for the *real* surprise of THE SICKNESS: “Shout2000,” Disturbed’s unbelievable version of the 1985 Tears For Fears classic “Shout.” Blending some of the atmospheric keyboards of the original with modern, diamond-hard rhythm guitar power chords and upbeat, pummelling mid-tempo drumbeats, this is simply one of the greatest cover songs of all time. For me, it comes a very close second on this CD to “The Game.” The CD rounds out with two excellent songs: “Droppin’ Plates” and “Meaning of Life.” The former begins with some loud funky rapping by David Draiman, and blends it with dizzying ’80’s-New-Wave synthesizer, along with a ’90’s hip-hop beat. Pretty cool! The latter has elements of all the other songs: lots of rap-screaming, buzzsaw guitars, trippy synths, and lots of double-bass drumming, with plenty of expert time-changes, courtesy of the extremely talented drummer/programmer Mike Wengren. Two things that are clearly evident on THE SICKNESS are excellent musicianship and production values.Given the fact that this CD is titled THE SICKNESS, I (of course) have decided to save my comments for “Down With The Sickness” for last. Essentially the title track of the CD, it is given entirely new life (and meaning) than the edited version played on the radio. It includes a bridge that is so violent and disturbing in its (de-)nature that it is the aural equivalent of DAWN OF THE DEAD, or AMERICAN PSYCHO, for that matter. The lyrics cannot be repeated here, even in part, and they are not included in the printed lyrics on the inside CD cover. All I can say about this section of “Down With The Sickness” is that it is not for the faint-of-heart, and delivers a far greater impact than the entire first Slipknot CD, which I also have and will review at a later date.Forget about what the Amazon music editor says about the supposedly “XXX-rated HOOBASTANK,” by the band of the same name. Hell, HOOBASTANK doesn’t even have the Parental Advisory sticker on it–they don’t even curse on their CD. Believe me when I say that, on the basis of “Down With The Sickness” alone, Disturbed’s THE SICKNESS definitely earns it’s Parental Advisory sticker–and then some. This is a significant debut from a loud and angry band, and I think that more disturbing things can be expected on Disturbed’s upcoming sophomore CD. Then again, they may just turn around, and surprise me again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    Posted on January 11, 2010