Album Review – Disturbed / Divisive (2022)

David Draiman and his henchmen are back with a blistering angry album, bringing to our avid ears ten tracks of visceral, unfiltered Disturbed throughout its 38 minutes of duration.

With over 17 million records sold worldwide, Chicago, United States-based Heavy/Alternative Metal giants Disturbed have just released their eighth studio album, entitled Divisive, following up on their 2015 critically acclaimed album Immortalized and their 2018 not-so-acclaimed effort Evolution. As early as October 2020, frontman David Draiman stated that he wanted the new Disturbed album to be “blisteringly angry”, considering everything going on in the world with the pandemic, and let’s say the band more than succeeded in that with Divisive. Produced, mixed and engineered by Drew Fulk and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, the album puts the band comprised of the aforementioned David Draiman on vocals, Dan Donegan on the guitar, John Moyer on bass and Mike Wengren on drums back on track, bringing to our avid ears ten tracks of visceral, unfiltered Disturbed throughout its 38 minutes of duration.

The opening track Hey You will already kick you in the head with its direct and inspiring lyrics vociferated by David (“Hey you / Have you had enough of it? / How the blind are leading the blind / Hey you / Are you angered enough / Do you feel confined / Are you losing your mind”), while the music exhales classic Disturbed for our total delight; whereas Mike hammers his drums mercilessly in the dark and heavy Bad Man accompanied by the rumbling bass by John in another display of the band’s trademark Alternative Metal. Then we have the title-track Divisive, which should work amazingly when played during their live concerts with David spearheading his henchmen with another solid vocal performance, being perfect for some fierce headbanging (not to mention how awesome Dan’s guitar solo sounds). And even heavier and more dynamic, Unstoppable presents a bestial performance by Mike on drums once again while David’s soaring vocals walk hand in hand with the slashing riffage by Dan, sounding very exciting from start to finish, whereas the metallic bass by John builds a strong base for David to roar in Love to Hate, a straightforward tune by Disturbed that feels like it was taken from one of their classic albums.

Feeding the Fire leans towards the band’s more recent albums like Immortalized, with David investing in deeper, more melancholic vocals, resulting in a fist-raising tune to the classic beats by Mike and the always incendiary riffs by Dan. After that, the band fires the beautiful Don’t Tell Me, inspired by guitarist Dan Donegan’s divorce from his wife of 18 years and featuring the iconic American singer Ann Wilson (best known as the lead singer of Heart), where an introspective start to the clean vocals by David evolves into a stunning dark ballad. Furthermore, their vocal duet is superb, overflowing passion and feeling, while the rest of the band makes sure the music remains heavy and touching until the very end. Get ready to jump up and down with Disturbed in the electrifying Take Back Your Life, bringing to our ears modern-day Alternative Metal with a straightforward chorus and a groovy instrumental, and if you want groove and heaviness you’ll have a blast to the sound of Part of Me, with John and mike generating a reverberating ambience perfect for David’s raspy vocals. And finally, we have Won’t Back Down, a great tune to close the album offering us all more of Disturbed’s undisputed heavy music, and I’m sure it will also inspire fans to raise their fists with the band if played live.

In summary, David Draiman and his henchmen did an excellent job with Divisive, especially if you compare it to Evolution, reigniting that amazing level of energy found in most of their previous albums, and you can enjoy that in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, or simply purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE. Moreover, Disturbed can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their thrilling music. Although the name of the album is Divisive, I doubt it’s going to cause disagreement or hostility between people (as per the word’s own definition); quite the contrary, it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime Disturbed fan or a newcomer to their rockin’ realm, you’ll certainly have a lot of fun while listening to such powerful album by an unstoppable band that continues to shine as one of the most important rock and metal groups of the past few decades.

Best moments of the album: Hey You, Unstoppable, Don’t Tell Me and Part of Me.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. Hey You 4:28
2. Bad Man 3:22
3. Divisive 3:58
4. Unstoppable 3:58
5. Love to Hate 3:36
6. Feeding the Fire 4:19
7. Don’t Tell Me 4:31
8. Take Back Your Life 2:58
9. Part of Me 3:53
10. Won’t Back Down 2:52

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Elli Berlin

Freiheit! Suche ich… Freiheit! Komm ans Licht… Sei mir unendlich!

Even if you don’t understand a single word in German, I bet you’ll fall in love with the talent, the charisma and the energy flowing from our metal chick of this month of September. Owner of a beyond versatile voice, which allows her to deliver from the most serene, cleanest lines to truly demonic growls and roars, German vocalist and alternative model Elli Berlin will rip your heart out and mesmerize your senses with her stunning looks and incendiary performance, showing you why her fantastic Alternative Metal band, which goes by the stylish name of Null Positiv, is on a constant rise in the world of heavy music. After reading more about Elli and listening to her wicked creations, you’ll be absolutely addicted to her voice and to her music, placing Null Positiv among one of your favorite bands of our modern times hands down.

Elli started her career as a vocalist at a young age, more specifically when she was around 13 years old, as she became aware of her skills and capabilities when different people started to approach her and compliment her for her talent. She then went to take singing lessons, starting with classical music and gradually moving on to pop and rock music, making her first recordings in a professional studio, and then forming her first band when she was only 16 years old. Elli said in one of her interviews that was a really hard time for her, with over 150 shows per year, but she’s very thankful for all that as she simply loves her touring life. At first her band only played cover songs, but of course they started writing their own music as time passed by, and although metal music has always been an important part of her life, she only began growling and screaming a few years ago.

It was in 2015 in Lübbenau, a small town in the Oberspreewald-Lausitz district of Brandenburg, Germany, when Elli began looking for like-minded musicians to join her project and work on powerful, modern metal music, resulting in what is known today as her very entertaining and electrifying band Null Positiv, bringing to our ears an incendiary hybrid of Alternative and Nu Metal with Neue Deutsche Härte. Since their inception a few years ago, Null Positiv have released an array of unique and vibrant albums, including their debut EP Krieger, in 2016, followed by the full-length albums Koma (2017), Amok (2018), and their 2020 brand new opus Independenz (which will be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Scheiße!”), having also toured extensively with over 100 shows in just a few years, having played with renowned acts the likes of Anthrax, The Raven Age and Life of Agony, while also having in their short but solid career an appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2017 and an European tour with the iconic band Therion.

Currently comprised of our gorgeous frontwoman Elli Berlin, guitarist Bene Gugerbauer, bassist Manu Altendorfer and drummer Flo Schnablo, Null Positiv got its name from 0+, one of the most common blood types, as Elli herself explained we all share it, we all have it flowing within our veins, being essential to keep us alive and, therefore, becoming a synonym to the general equality all band members believe in. “Furthermore, it also translates to the mindset within the band, lyrically and musically. We believe in telling things how they are, without sugar-coating stuff and digging deep into the sentiments, good or bad, that motivate or prevent people to do things. We do this intending to rouse people, to give the initial spark to start to deal with the problems that we as humanity are facing in modern times,” commented our multi-talented diva.

In addition, Elli and her henchmen are one hundred percent, purely independent from any label or management company, having founded their own label, named Triplebase Records, from which they have released all of their albums. Not only that, Null Positiv also shoot and produce all of their official videos, available through their YouTube channel. For instance, you can see Elli kicking some serious ass with her potent vocals and her ravishing looks in songs such as Freiheit (one of my favorite Null Positiv songs), Turm Der, Trauma, Amok, Kollaps, Koma, Hass, Hoffnung Ist Ein Suesses Gift, Friss Dich Auf, Wo Rauch Ist, Ist Auch Feuer, Unvergessen, Zukunft Ungewiss, and a short and eerie film called Puppets Of Hate. Furthermore, if live performances and everything that surrounds them are your cup of tea, you can also enjoy Elli and the boys blasting insane performances at Rock Am Stück in 2019 and at Near Castle Festival also in 2019, playing the song Labyrinth on a live tour rehearsal in 2019, or go behind the scenes with them during their European tours in 2018 and 2019, during Wacken Open Air in 2017, and during Gefle Metal Festival in 2018. Also, don’t forget to show Elli and her Null Positiv your utmost support by purchasing their music and merch from their official webstore, by streaming all of their insane albums and songs on Spotify and YouTube, and by following them on all social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Highly influences by several renowned rock and metal acts including Korn, Slipknot, In This Moment, System of a Down, Papa Roach, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park and Prodigy, among many, many others, as well as obviously by her countrymen Rammstein, Elli mentioned in a recent interview that the first album she’s ever bought was Life is Peachy, the second studio album by American Nu Metal band Korn, released in 1996, saying she deeply loves that album, and complementing by saying she got to know the other aforementioned bands through festivals she used to attend as a fan in her early days, and that nowadays it would be a dream come true to tour with bands the likes of Korn, Rammstein or Arch Enemy, and that her playlist currently includes Slipknot, I Prevail, Korn, Parkway Drive, Asking Alexandria, Infected Rain, Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy. Moreover, you can sense how much all those modern metal bands have influenced her taste and her style by taking a listen at the cover songs she uploaded to her own YouTube channel, like her version for German Neue Deutsche Härte/Medieval Metal band Tanzwut’s Ich bin der Nachtwind, and mainly her gorgeous version for American music duo Simon & Garfunkel’s all-time classic The Sound Of Silence, drawing inspiration not from the original song but from Disturbed’s majestic version released in 2015.

Elli also said that it’s hard for her to choose her favorite song or songs to play live, as she feels that a concert is like one single, big explosion, hitting the stage and then leaving it at the end without “paying attention” to each song played, feeling like one huge energetic track. When asked how she manages to stay healthy while on tour, Elli said that as tours can be lengthy and exhausting, she has to integrate a daily fitness program to them, being very disciplined despite the fact there are tons of parties to attend and have fun. Also, in early 2019 Elli suffered an unfortunate back injury which forced her to take a break for a few months before getting back to touring, and she said that although it was a very difficult time for her, she always got the support from her bandmates. The final result was that not only Elli returned in full force to play with Null Positiv in countries like Switzerland, France, Belgium and Italy, but the band also won an award as best new band at the Mera Luna Festival in 2019.

When questioned about the fact that women still face a lot of sexism both in our everyday life and in the metal community, Elli said that fortunately in her own case she has never experienced any negative experiences like that in her career, complementing by saying that she has always felt very comfortable and welcome in Heavy Metal, a very positive environment where people are united in the name of good music, in her opinion. In addition, when asked about who she considers the most influential women in metal today, her answer included the talented and unrelenting ladies Angela Gossow, Doro and Amy Lee, mainly for their hard work, technical capabilities and their persistence, and let’s say it’s easy to sense their influence on Elli’s vocal style, looks and taste for rock and metal, don’t you agree? Furthermore, besides her career with Null Positiv our dauntless vocalist said that among her hobbies we’ll find things like painting, editing the band’s videos and designing their own attire, saying she’s then an actress, director and alternative model beyond her vocal duties who loves to play with fashion and makeup and, therefore, showing how powerful and dynamic a woman can be.

Among other topics that Elli has already discussed in her career are crowdfunding, politics and social networks, and her opinion on all those subjects proves why she’s been experiencing such high level of success and admiration in the world of heavy music. First of all, when questioned about crowdfunding, she thinks it’s a great idea that gives interested people the direct possibility of influencing the market by supporting the artists, bands or any other projects they like, complementing by saying that as everybody knows the music business can be extremely hard in the beginning, and due to lack of funding many bands cannot put into practice all of their amazing ideas, which is why the band has an option for fans to financially support them directly through their official website (where you can also buy their music and merch). Regarding politics in music, Elli believes music is, and has always been throughout history, a very powerful tool for bringing positive change to the world and problems to the light, saying that writing about political issues is as useful and valuable as writing about human emotions like love, suffering or hate. And last but not least, our unstoppable, multi-talented artist considers social networking a beautiful way to communicate and to keep in touch with her fans, complementing by saying it’s a powerful way to receive love and encouragement and, therefore, to get all strength and inspiration needed to keep moving forward. However, she said people must not be obsessed with it, searching for what truly motivates you, being honest all the time and selective of who you follow. Well, I wonder who would dare to make any negative comments on social media about one of the most talented, promising and hardworking women from the current German rock and metal scene, right?

Elli Berlin’s Official Facebook page
Elli Berlin’s Official Instagram
Elli Berlin’s Official YouTube channel
Null Positiv’s Official Facebook page
Null Positiv’s Official Instagram
Null Positiv’s Official Twitter
Null Positiv’s Official YouTube channel

“I believe that music is, and has been throughout history, a very powerful tool for bringing positive change to the world and problems to the light.” – Elli Berlin

Metal Chick of the Month – Thais Amaral

Soldado não para!

If you’re a fan of the Crossover Thrash played by bands like Sepultura and Lamb of God, but at the same time highly influenced by Alternative and New Metal the likes of Korn, Jinjer and Deftones, get ready to be absolutely stunned by our metal chick of the month of November, who’s more than ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow together with her bandmates from a Brazilian band that goes by the stylish name of Endigna. Owner of a potent and versatile voice, she can deliver first-class clean vocals as well as demonic roars to our avid ears, both in Brazilian Portuguese and in English, leaving us all disoriented after her sonic attack is said and done. I’m talking about Thais Amaral, also known as Thais Endigna or even Babby Drunk, not only the frontwoman for Endigna but also a woman that brings a very welcome (and aggressive) feminine touch to a scene dominated by men.

Born and raised in Taboão da Serra, a municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil and part of the Metropolitan Region of the city of São Paulo, Thais started her life in music when she was around 8 or 9 years old because of the religious direction of her own family. As part of a gospel family, she got used to seeing people around her singing and playing different musical instruments; however, she only got interested in singing, never in playing an instrument, which led her to be part of the children’s choir at her church, moving on to the teenage group and to the youth group, later forming an all-female quintet where they used to sing a slightly different musical style more inclined to Soul and R&B. Although she decided to leave the church only when she was 16, she used to listen to a lot of rock music from the 90’s since she was around 12, which ended up having a huge influence on her desire to have her own band. That dream kind of came true when she was about to turn 18 years old, in 2003, when she formed a band named Goma 84, which unfortunately lasted for only two years until it was dissolved due to the different musical directions each member wanted to take. Through the years, apart from popular singing, Thais has also been enrolled in a course at IC&T – Instituto de Canto e Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil specialized in Heavy Metal vocal techniques, taught by Brazilian vocalist Thiago Bianchi (Shaman, Noturnall).

It was in 2007 that Thais formed her current band Endigna together with drummer (and also her husband) Tiago Sorrentino, aiming at showing a more aggressive side of rock and metal with lyrics in Portuguese, dealing with different introspective and rebellious topics. Highly influenced by renowned acts like Sepultura, Pantera, Lamb of God and Korn, as well as some very interesting names of the Brazilian scene such as Nação Zumbi and Raimundos, the band comprised of our metal lady Thais Amaral (or in this case Babby Drunk) on vocals, Tom Ayres on the guitar, Bruno Mota on bass and Tiago Sorrentino on drums released their debut EP entitled Soldado Não Para (which would translate as “a soldier doesn’t stop” or “a soldier never stops” from Portuguese) in 2014, and despite all the changes in their lineup through the years the band has solidified their name in the Brazilian underground scene, having already played in several cities across the country. At first, when the band was created, Thais and her bandmates were not exactly sure of what they wanted to do apart from obviously having fun playing in a metal band, and what started as a form of entertainment with the band playing cover songs from bands like Sepultura, System of a Down and Disturbed (like this live footage from 2012 where they play the classic Down with the Sickness), plus a couple of original compositions, quickly evolved to a more serious project, attracting more and more people curious to see that fusion of extreme music with female clean and harsh vocals.

In 2018, while Endigna was recording their first full-length album, Thais and Tiago faced a lot of problems with lineup changes and different musical ideas, which forced Thais to end the recordings and put an end also to Endigna as a band. However, after uploading on YouTube a vocal cover video for the song Pisces, by one of her favorite bands, Ukrainian metallers Jinjer, Thais was informed the video was not only seen by Jinjer themselves, but the band posted it on their official Facebook page, acknowledging it as the best cover version to one of their songs they’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough to make Thais extremely happy and proud of herself, Endigna were later invited to be the opening act for Jinjer at Manifesto Bar in São Paulo during their Latin American tour that year. Needless to say, that was a dream come true for Thais and the boys, re-igniting the fire inside Endigna for the delight of all fans of the band. If you want to enjoy the flammable music and live performances by Thais and her bandmates from Endigna, I recommend you take a good look and and even better listen at several Youtube videos from their official channel such as De Mãos Dadas, Pecado, Soldado Não Para, Lei Da Obediência, and several live videos like Morre Que Passa, Salvação at Mineiro Rock Bar, Pecado and Cara Da Derrota at Manifesto Bar in 2015, and Salvação, Sufocante and Lei Da Obediência live at Crazy Festival at Led Slay in 2011. Also ,don’t forget to check their SoundCloud page and official Instagram profile to know more about the band and their music.

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Apaart from her career with Endigna, our dauntless Thais can also be seen singing on the song Olho por Olho (which literally translates as “eye for an eye”) by a very peculiar project curiously named D.A.T.E.N.N.A (Desgraceiras Aterradoras Televisionadas Em Notícias Nada Agradáveis), a wordplay with the name of a Brazilian journalist who hosts a hideous TV show that deals mostly with the urban violence and nasty crimes in various regions of Brazil, as well as her aforementioned YouTube channel where you can find her vocal covers for Jinjer’s Pisces and Arch Enemy’s Reason To Believe, featuring special guest Hebberty Taurus,  guitarist for a Brazilian metal band called Dakhmas. Furthermore, Thais is also a skillful tattoo artist, running her own studio called Thais Amaral Tattoo in her hometown Taboão Da Serra (and you can get more details about the studio directly from its Facebook page or Instagram).

Regarding her biggest idols, influences and favorite bands and artists, Thais always mentions in her interviews iconic groups like Lamb Of God, Slayer, Deftones, Otep, Faith No More, A Perfect Circle, Tool and Stone Temple Pilots, and even pop artists like Beyoncé and P!nk; in addition, Thais also said in one of her social media profiles that the saddest song she’s ever listened to is Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, the movie she’s watched the most in her life is The Craft, from 1996, saying she even owns it in VHS and DVD, and that she recommends the song Kriptonita, by a band named Ludov, for anyone who’s looking for good music from the Brazilian rock scene.

Thais, who by the way has been suffering from bulimia for several years but that fortunately has also been able to control that inner monster, said in one of her interviews that although the rock and metal scene are still considered sexist by many, she doesn’t really feel that difference or discrimination as she works better with guys than with girls, but that she obviously understands from a viewer standpoint that there’s a lot more pressure on women than on men. Also, our talented growler currently enjoys full support from her family in regards to her career as a musician, complementing by saying that this wasn’t the case in the beginning as the type of music played by Endigna isn’t exactly what we can consider a cash cow. Nevertheless, Thais and Endigna truly love to hit the stage and kick some serious asses, with her “ritual” before her live performances including a facial muscle warm-up, vocalizations and gargling with lukewarm water to drain her vocal chords, and after the concert is over she doesn’t talk or say anything for four or six hours to recover her voice.

Lastly, when asked about the rock and metal scene in her hometown and in the rest of Brazil, Thais said that there are countless amazing bands all over the country that deserve our attention, despite of course all hassles and barriers faced by any underground band that plays heavy music. She complemented by saying that her interaction with all organizers, as well as with all fans of heavy music, is always fantastic, praising the hard work by everyone involve in all festivals and events where Endigna played and saying she loves to interact with the fans, without whom Endigna wouldn’t exist in her opinion, also mentioning the importance of the internet for the band to spread their music, their videos and tour dates. And, as a bonus, if you speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese or have a very good understanding of the language, simply sit down, relax and enjoy this nice interview with Thais to a series called “A Cena É Delas” for Motim Underground, where she talks about everything that was mentioned above and more, focusing on the role of women in the current scene, showing that the underground in Brazil is stronger than ever with talented musicians like Thais proudly carrying the flag of heavy music wherever they go.

Thais Amaral’s Official Facebook page
Thais Amaral’s Official Instagram
Thais Amaral’s Official Twitter
Thais Amaral’s Official YouTube channel
Endigna’s Official Facebook page

Endigna’s Official Instagram
Endigna’s Official Twitter
Endigna’s Official YouTube channel

Concert Review – Disturbed (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 03/04/2019)

David Draiman and his henchmen took Toronto by storm once again, providing us all a touching and memorable night of heavy music, life and friendship.

OPENING ACTS: Three Days Grace

Monday night in Toronto was damn cold, windy and, even if it was sunny and hot, it was still Monday. However, there’s nothing better than a good rock and metal concert to warm us up on such a boring day, right? That’s exactly what over 20,000 fans got at the now named Scotiabank Arena (formerly known as Air Canada Centre) during the Disturbed: Evolution Tour, featuring Three Days Grace as the opening act and, obviously, Disturbed, spearheaded by the iconic David Draiman. I was surprised with the amount of very young people at the venue, proving that rock music is far from being done (and I’ll talk more about it later), and not even that annoying bitterly cold wind was capable of stopping us all to raise our fists in the air to one of the most important bands in the history of Alternative Metal.

I must confess I’ve never paid too much attention to THREE DAYS GRACE, mainly because their music is not my cup of tea, sounding way too radio-friendly at times. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their performance, though, as those Toronto-based rockers put on a very energetic and fun concert, still promoting their 2018 album titled Outsider. Frontman Matt Walst didn’t stop running around and jumping up and down for a single second, demanding the audience to sing along with him and to ignite some circle pits. A few songs stood out from their setlist, like The Good Life, Pain, Riot and, of course, their biggest hit I Hate Everything About You, all working as a good warm-up for the main attraction of the night. In other words, if a fan of Thrash, Death and Black Metal like me enjoyed their show, I can imagine how happy they made their diehard fans playing in their hometown.

Setlist
Intro (Livin’ On a Prayer)
The Mountain
Home
The Good Life
Pain
Infra-Red
Painkiller
Break
Right Left Wrong
I Hate Everything About You
Animal I Have Become (with “Seven Nation Army” interlude)
Never Too Late
Riot

Band members
Matt Walst – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Barry Stock – lead guitar
Brad Walst – bass, backing vocals
Neil Sanderson – drums, keyboards, backing vocals 

DISTURBED

It was around 8:50pm when the lights went off and the humongous screen at the back of the stage started showing scenes from several DISTURBED concerts through the years, also presenting some rebellious and inspiring messages to the crowd, and that video worked flawlessly to pump up every single person at the venue for the opening track Are You Ready, from their 2018 album Evolution (which is definitely not their best effort, but it still has some very good moments, I might say). And although the whole concert might not have been as electrifying as their latest performance in the city in 2016 with Breaking Benjamin while promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (partially due to the extreme cold outside, as their 2016 show was outdoors in the middle of the summer), David & Co. kicked ass with a very solid and diversified setlist, proving once again why they’re still relevant after all those years on the road.

It was indeed a feast of classic tunes from the band, with crushing hymns like Stupify (where David gave a short speech about how the media wants us to believe we’re divided, when in fact we’re all united no matter our color, race, gender or sexual orientation), Voices, Ten Thousand Fists and their cover version for Genesis’ Land of Confusion (my favorite of the night, by the way) inspiring everyone to jump, headbang, mosh and sing together with the quartet. Dan Donegan, John Moyer and Mike Wengren were on fire with their instruments, providing David everything he needed to blast his unparalleled screams. Furthermore, despite the biggest part of their setlist being comprised of heavy songs, it was when they played their ballads that they truly connected with the audience, and that happened for a very simple and delicate reason. It was visible that all four members of the band were very sad and touched by the death of their longtime friend Keith Flint, the wicked frontman for British electronic music trailblazers The Prodigy, who committed suicide at the age of 49 at his home in Essex earlier that same day, turning the concert in Toronto something very special for the entire band.

When they played Hold On to Memories on the main stage, showing photos and images of their entire career including some pictures and old footage with their friends Chester Bennington (from Linkin Park, who also committed suicide in 2017) and the unparalleled Pantera brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, who died in 2004 and 2018, respectively, it was already a memorable moment for everyone at the venue, a celebration of life and friendship by Disturbed, but it was when they moved to the smaller acoustic stage at the back of the floor section to play A Reason to Fight and Watch You Burn that we could clearly see a lot of tears falling down from their eyes. David took some time to give a very meaningful speech about how depression is not something people choose to have, but a very serious disease that can consume even the most famous and richest people on the planet, dedicating that part of the show to Keith Flint just like what he had done a week before remembering the lives of Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Chester Benington during their concert in New York. There are (several) other people out there either suffering from depression or who had already reached the unfortunate point of suicide, like the talented Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus who passed away in 2018, and as David said we need to reach out to those in need to win this battle against such horrendous illness.

The other three unforgettable moments for me (and for most people at the venue) were first and foremost their already classic tribute to Simon & Garfunkel with their flawless version for their ballad The Sound of Silence, the insane fire on stage during Inside the Fire (for obvious reasons), and the amazing kids with their parents on stage to celebrate rock music during The Light, proving once and for all as David said that rock is not dead like the media enjoys “vomiting” in our faces every single day. And lastly, as the icing on the cake, how about two of my all-time favorite Disturbed songs, the superb Stricken and the demented Down With the Sickness, which ignited a big, fun and frantic circle pit that took over a significant part of the central area of the floor section? That’s what good rock and metal music is all about, right? Having a good time with your loved ones, enjoying a nice beer while watching a great band like Disturbed perform, and resting assured that while bands like Disturbed are alive and kicking, our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never, ever die.

Setlist
Are You Ready
Prayer
The Vengeful One
The Animal
Stupify
Voices
Land of Confusion (Genesis cover)
Hold On to Memories
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
A Reason to Fight
Watch You Burn
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Indestructible
Inside the Fire

Encore:
The Light
Stricken
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

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Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Album Review – Disturbed / Immortalized (2015)

If you love Mr. David Draiman and his crew more than anything in your life, just go for it.

Rating5

disturbed_immortalizedDiehard fans of Alternative Metal can take a rest now and enjoy some peace of heart (or maybe not), as American Heavy Metal icons Disturbed finally released a couple of months ago a brand new album after a long hiatus, entitled Immortalized. And although the sixth studio album in their career (the first since their 2010 release Asylum) might be far from being a masterpiece and won’t change anything in the heavy music scene as we know it, it will surely put you to scream, jump up and down and raise your fists in the air together with Mr. David Draiman and his crew. But that will most probably happen only if you’re addicted to their music, so to speak.

Perhaps the main “issue” with the new album by the band that helped put Chicago, Illinois on the worldwide map of Alternative Metal is not the lack of innovation, but the extreme repetitiousness and hollowness of all lyrics. It’s nothing that ruins the album or makes it unbearable to listen to, but at least for me it feels like many songs are just filler and only their most devoted fans will end up digging them. Anyway, it’s still Disturbed with yet another excellent artwork featuring “The Guy”, designed by Raymond Swanland, and you’ll surely have a good time listening to it at home, work, school or in your car, but other than two or three truly strong songs the rest of the album doesn’t achieve its full potential and will be forgotten pretty soon.

The album begins with The Eye of the Storm, an alternative intro that sets the tone for what’s about to come, the incredible title-track Immortalized, which by the way is the best song of the album by far. You’ll need just a couple of seconds to realize it’s Disturbed at its finest, from its razing riffs to the unique voice by Mr. David Draiman, with its chorus being one of those things you’ll feel honored to raise your fists and sing together with the band (“Oh, in the calm before the storm / Another legend will be born / Another battle will be won / We will rise / Oh, so heed the call of confrontation / Today we feed on domination / Secure a legacy that will never die / Be immortalized”). The Vengeful One is another instant classic where the band offers their fans a unique fighting chant with an imposing rhythm and fierce lyrics, and I bet this song will be a permanent piece of their setlist from now on.

It’s in Open Your Eyes that the aforementioned issues begin: despite being another solid tune where Draiman and guitarist Dan Donegan do a great job together, it’s recommended for longtime fans of the band only as it doesn’t offer anything new, and besides, the chorus ends up getting way too repetitive after a while. And if they wanted to send an inspiring message through the song The Light, I’m sad to say they failed miserably, not only because its instrumental parts are significantly bland but also because its lyrics couldn’t sound more generic. It might be enjoyable for fans who love anything that comes from the band, but for fans of a wider range of heavy music it’s a real bummer. Then we have the interesting What Are You Waiting For, which reminds me of some of their songs from their 2000 classic The Sickness mixed with their 2005 release Ten Thousand Fists. In spite of the repetitiveness of the lyrics and chorus it’s indeed a very pleasant tune, with highlights to the excellent job done by drummer Mike Wengren.

You’re Mine starts in a “scary” Pop/Dance way, fortunately evolving to a much bolder and heavier sonority and therefore without doing any harm to the album; followed by Who, and let me tell you that if you’re not a fan of the band you won’t even notice the transition from the previous song to this one. However, this one is a lot more elaborate and deserves a better listen, with its solid riffs and beats providing Draiman all he needs to deliver his classic vocal lines. Once again lyrics get too repetitive in Save Our Last Goodbye, with its heavy riffs being what really stand out and give the song some significant energy. It should work a lot better if played live, though.

disturbed 2015I’ll never ever understand the reason for a band like Disturbed to record the hideous Fire It Up. I’m not pro or against it, I just think this is not Disturbed, where its weak instrumental  and even weaker lyrics feel like Draiman had the terrible idea to partner with Snoop Dogg so infantile they are (“Fire it up, I like to fire it up / and it feels so right / Fire it up, ’cause when I fire it up / I feel like serenity / I feel like serenity… is mine”). Disturbed should sing about fighting, about the human psyche, hatred and pain, and leave the superficial stuff to R&B and other crap. At least The Sound of Silence keeps up with the band’s tradition of unusual cover songs, this time paying a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel. It’s interesting how Draiman changed his voice for this song, and albeit it’s nothing outstanding and not even close to their awesome version for “Land of Confusion”, it’s still a nice variation to the band’s sounding.

Never Wrong sounds like the early days of Disturbed with its pure Alternative Metal vibe and Draiman showcasing his powerful vocals in a thrilling way. In addition, the entire band is on fire, elevating the song’s electricity and making it a perfect choice for some action inside the pit during their live performances. And lastly, the album ends with yet another decent but not outstanding song named Who Taught You How to Hate, also tailored for old fans of the band, with its repetitive but good-to-sing-along lyrics. And if you get any of the special editions of the album, I personally consider Legion of Monsters the most exciting bonus track of all.

To sum up, Distrubed are offering a decent Disturbed album for Disturbed fans, and that’s it. Nothing truly new, no breakthroughs or any type of new concepts added to it. Draiman knows what he’s doing and what his fans want, and that’s exactly what he did in Immortalized. If you love the music by Disturbed more than anything in your life, just go for it and you won’t feel disappointed at all. If Disturbed are simply another band in your playlist, take a shot at Immortalized and you’ll find some pretty good moments in it, but don’t expect it to have a relevant impact on the way you see music today. As long as you have fun listening to it, it’s mission accomplished for Draiman and his bandmates.

Best moments of the album: Immortalized, The Vengeful One and Never Wrong.

Worst moments of the album: The Light and Fire It Up.

Released in 2015 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. The Eye of the Storm 1:20
2. Immortalized 4:17
3. The Vengeful One 4:12
4. Open Your Eyes 3:57
5. The Light 4:16
6. What Are You Waiting For 4:03
7. You’re Mine 4:55
8. Who 4:46
9. Save Our Last Goodbye 4:59
10. Fire It Up 4:05
11. The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover) 4:08
12. Never Wrong 3:33
13. Who Taught You How to Hate 4:57

Deluxe edition bonus tracks
14.Tyrant 3:49
15.Legion of Monsters 4:23
16.The Brave and the Bold 4:34

Exclusive digital bonus track
17. Warning Sign 3:28

Exclusive vinyl pictures disc bonus track
18. The Vengeful One (Instrumental) 4:12

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Album Review – Trivium / Vengeance Falls (2013)

Trivium join forces with Disturbed’s David Draiman to produce another good album with an infinite number of pretty cool heavy riffs.

Rating4

TriviumVengeanceAs I already mentioned a few posts ago in my Trivium & DevilDriver concert review, Trivium has become one of the most important contemporary Metal bands, and again with Vengeance Falls they justify why they’ve reached this level. It’s not a masterpiece, but a solid album to follow the great In Waves, with some new elements brought by producer David Draiman (the brain behind Disturbed). The opening track, Brave This Storm, was released a few weeks ago, and its amazing riffs and chorus still maintain it as my favorite song of the album. By the way, the whole album is a lesson in heavy riffs, so if you’re a guitar player don’t think twice and go get your copy of the new Trivium album.

Then we have the title-track Vengeance Falls and another one of my favorites, Strife (best chorus of the album), both with awesome guitar riffs that remind me of some of the old Disturbed riffs, probably due to David Draiman’s influence as the producer. It would have been really interesting if he had also sang one or two songs with Trivium! No Way To Heal has all the elements that are so characteristic in Trivium’s music, making it a very heavy and progressive song. The next track, To Believe, is another song that seems to have a lot of influence from Draiman and one of the greatest positive surprises of the album for me, which is not the case with At the End of This War: just an average song that sounds flat after 3 minutes. But things get back to normal (in other words, HEAVY and CREATIVE) with Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and its excellent “heavy riff and fast drums” work (and I enjoy a lot when Matt screams the chorus!).

Trivium-630x420Villainy Thrives has a good rhythm, which will certainly make the fans jump as the band requires during the concerts, while Incineration: The Broken World, one of the longest songs of the album, starts with another cool riff and has Nick Augusto doing his best job on the drums in the whole album. Closing the album we have Wake (The End Is Nigh), the longest song that starts slowly but then moves to a fast speed, showing a more traditional Trivium again. The bonus tracks in the special edition of the album are all very good, especially their cover for MisfitsSkulls…We Are 138, and if you manage to find the Japanese version, it has a different bonus: an interesting version for REM’s Losing My Religion.

The lyrics as usual are as crazy as they can be. Well, what else could we expect from Matt Heafy? “Burn us alive for our sins and our crimes / We are the wretched ones: malevolent slime” And regarding the album cover, I personally enjoy when it doesn’t explicitly show the name of the album or the band. In Vengeance Falls, the cover works as a complement to the album title, doing a cool job with the band’s logo. And last but not least, I didn’t mention anything about Corey or Paolo because I don’t need to: they’re awesome musicians doing a very consistent job as always, helping Trivium in being an important reference in heavy music today.

Best moments of the album: Brave This Storm, Strife and To Believe.

Worst moments of the album: At The end of This War, and the lack of the old screams from Matt in most of the songs. I know he cannot scream 100% of the time, but a little more would be great to the entire album.

Released in 2013 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Brave This Storm 4:29
2. Vengeance Falls 4:13
3. Strife 4:30
4. No Way to Heal 4:05
5. To Believe 4:32
6. At the End of This War 4:47
7. Through Blood and Dirt and Bone 4:26
8. Villainy Thrives 4:54
9. Incineration: The Broken World 5:52
10. Wake (The End Is Nigh) 6:00

Bonus tracks
11. No Hope for the Human Race 3:59
12. As I Am Exploding 5:51
13. Skulls…We Are 138 (Misfits cover) 3:31
14. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover) 4:41

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, vocals
Nick Augusto – drums, percussion