In the beginning, there was Disturbed: an amazing band that blended industrial metal instrumentals with reggae styled vocals. They were both praised, and criticized for the various noises Dave Draiman would make in between verses. The “AW-WAH-AH-AH-AH!” in “Down With the Sickness” being the most famous of all of them. They put out six albums, and four of them are pretty spectacular listens.
Unfortunately, nothing good lasts forever. I was convinced Disturbed could do no wrong, and then “Asylum” came along and proved me wrong. “The Lost Children” is a collection of B-sides, and while it’s good to have a physical copy, I already had about two thirds of this stuff on my computer via WinMX anyway. “Asylum” might as well have been a sign of bad things to come if you’re a Disturbed fan, because not too long after it was released, the band broke up. The bass player joined a band by the name of Adrenaline Mob, which as of this writing, I’ve heard of, but have yet to listen to. The lead guitarist and drummer, along with some other guys, formed the band Fight or Flight, which again, I really need to get around to checking out. And the lead singer, Dave Draiman, formed the band Device.
Device is a band that has generated the ultimate definition of mixed reviews. People seem to either really love it, or really hate it. The term “Disturbed lite” comes up a lot in the hater camp, and I can’t say I don’t see it. In fact, I’d say if Disturbed never broke up, this would probably have ended up being a Disturbed album. But if you’re like me, and don’t care about things like that as long as the album is an entertaining listen, then it’s less of a criticism, and more of a reason to invest in them. Because if you like Disturbed, odds are you’ll like Device for the very reason the haters hate it.
If I had done a best of 2013 last year, I guarantee Device would’ve been in contention. Unfortunately, Ghost’s “Infestissamum” would’ve won, but Device would’ve definitely been a close… Third or fourth place. Sue me: Volbeat put out an awesome album last year, and the second half of “The House of Gold and Bones” was released. It was a pretty competitive field that year!
Today, after many delays due to one thing or another, I finally get to Device’s self-titled album. So let’s put it in the ol’ stereo, and give it a little spin-a-roony! Wow, did I seriously just say spin-a-roony? I haven’t heard that since Booker T was still wrestling. And it was stupid back then. Whatever, hit the play button already!
ALBUM ART: C+
1. You Think You Know
Right off the bat, I can’t help but notice that Device is actually a bit heavier than Disturbed ever was. I’m not sure if they used different guitars, or different recording techniques, or if the whole industrial thing has a heavy hand in that, but all I know is that this opening track immediately grabs my attention with that detail. Draiman still resorts to his usual sound effects and reggae style singing voice, which is a welcoming factor going in. Present the listener with a hint of familiarity to go along with the new experience so it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into alien terratory. All and all, it’s worth the listen.
Draiman’s vocals aren’t quite as bouncy like they were in the last one, but the direction he went here works just as good. Trying to reggae this one up would’ve probably made it not work nearly as well. Sometimes, straight forward works.
This was the first single from the album. It was also what led a lot of people to believe early on that Device was basically Disturbed Jr. I won’t deny the Disturbed influence, but at the same time, it’s one of my favorites off the entire album. Highly recommended.
4. Close My Eyes Forever
This song is a Lita Ford cover that features… Ugh. It features everybody’s favorite shape-shifter vocalist, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. If you’ve been a reader of my blog over the last two years, you know my opinion of Halestorm is… Less than pleasant. That being said, with all the reluctance in the world, I declare that this cover is actually pretty good. Lzzy hale is not a bad vocalist: she just has no consistent personality. One minute, she’s singing about being tough as nails, wanting me to do her dirty work and how I call her a bitch like it’s a bad thing. Literally, the next track, she’s a mindless idiot longing for the bad old days that validate Theory of a Deadman’s claims of “Girls don’t want a gentleman, they want a loser like me.” Go ahead and hate: I know how to read between lines, and the stuff you guys come up with is actually kind of hilarious. It’s too bad, because as this song proves, Hale is a good vocalist. Her material is the problem. So when she’s doing a cover tune with Dave Draiman, of course it sounds good. I just wish there wasn’t so much “I Miss the Misery” over at the Halestorm camp. Okay, I’m done ranting. Let’s move on.
5. Out of Line
This song features both Serj Tankian and Geezer Butler. I’ll have to take their word on Butler, but Tankian gets a few verses here. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling Tankian wrote this one. When it comes to anti-war songs like a lot of rock during 2003-2006, Disturbed didn’t exactly offer up a whole lot in the ways of innovative thought. Serj Tankian has been a politically charged artist since day one, but whenever Draiman goes into politics… I don’t know, it feels kind of phoned in at times. Go ahead and cover “Land of Confusion” if you really like the song, but maybe leave anti-Bush statements to the guys with something to say? I don’t know. Despite my feelings on the subject matter, and the fact it’s a little late to be writing anti-Iraq war music in a day and age where we’ve been out of Iraq for nearly three years, it’s actually a pretty good song.
The industrial element is at it’s heaviest in this song. It’s definitely the most haunting thing I’ve heard on the entire disk thus far. Really sets the mood for an especially intense cat-and-mouse sort of horror sequence.
This song features Tom Morello. I think he plays for Rage Against the Machine. Or maybe it’s Slayer? You think I’d know this, but here I am. Anyway, this is another favorite of mine. It had my attention the moment I hear the opening notes, and it’s all up hill from there.
8. War of Lies
I love the instrumental in this one. The title gave me the impression this might end up being another anti-Iraq War song, but once I get into the lyrics, I’m not so sure then.
This one features M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold. And suddenly, one of the team-ups I’ve always wanted to see between bands is made reality. It’s not exactly A7 and Disturbed, but I’ll take it.
10. Through it All
This song features Glenn Hughes, and in typical ending track fashion, ends up being the softest track of the album. It’s not exactly some of the acoustic guitar tracks of the early to mid 2000s, but it’s a lot more reserved than a lot of the other tracks on this album. All and all, it’s a good ending track to a really good album.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
So yeah, I actually enjoyed this quite a bit. Whether we’ll see more from Device, or if this ends up being a one-time sort of deal remains to be seen, but for the time being, I’m liking where this is going.