I was working as an Insurance Broker in Sydney during this time. And everytime I went for a walk during lunch time to the record shops, the flyers for Disturbed always grabbed my attention, but I didn’t buy.
Then they got added to the Ozzfest festival. Ozzy apparently said, he’s seen the future of heavy metal and that is “Disturbed”. Then I got a transcription of “Voices” in one of the guitar magazines I subscribed to and after playing through what I thought the song sounded like, I was very interested.
So in 2001, I made the purchase.
And I looked at the band member names. Totally unrecognisable.
From Chicago, they formed in 1994. The band currently (2021) is vocalist David Draiman, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren.
Donegan and Wengren have been involved in the band since the start, with Moyer replacing former bassist Steve Kmak and Draiman replacing original lead vocalist Erich Awalt.
In 2000, the band released its debut album, “The Sickness”.
In the U.S alone (and if you like to use the RIAA sales metric as a gauge for success) it went Gold by August, 2000.
Platinum by November, 2000.
2x Platinum by October 2001.
3 x Platinum by March 2003.
4 x Platinum by September 2008.
5x Platinum by June, 2018.
It went Platinum in Australia, 2x Platinum in Canada, Gold in the U.K
“Are you breathing?”
And a new trademark is born.
The metal groove of the riff became known as the “Nu-Metal” riff.
And Draiman talks about some freaky shit, and the staccato vocal delivery from Draiman was so unique it got me interested. It was just so different from the 80’s type of singers I was so used to.
The NIN electronics plus bass drum acting like a metronome and a catchy vocal melody hooks me in.
And those dog barks from David Draiman. WTF. But I liked it. It was different. Very different.
Also the syncopation of vocal melody, guitar riff and bass drum was insane when I first heard it.
The groove on this. And the vocal style of Draiman was bizzare, it was like he had a health issue the way he was singing. But I couldn’t turn it off. I wanted to hear what he would come with up with next.
At 2.33, this Middle East style vibe kicks in, before the heaviest part of the song kicks in when Draiman is singing “Don’t deny me”.
The guitar riff takes the style of Korn and guitarist Dan Donegan has this ability to take influences from what was current like NIN, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Tool and put it all into his metal influenced blender, and out comes the magic brew of Disturbed.
“Down With The Sickness”
The drum pattern and riff to kick off this song is now iconic, along with Draiman’s bird like calls “Oo Wahahahah” and the disturbing Bridge, which has Draiman talking and screaming at an abuser.
In the live arena, there are a sea of faces jumping up and down and head banging, like an ocean swell about to hit the stage.
The riff is jarring.
“Bring the violence its significant”
It’s like soundtrack music at the start but when the riff kicks in, it’s more of the same.
It has this Deftones/Tool like feel in the music which I like as it offers some variation from the previous tracks.
The verse riff is cool to jam to.
It feels like a re-write of the first four songs with “en-e-me” as the catchcry.
I really like what Disturbed did with this “Tears For Fears” song and how Dan Donegan created the heavy palm muted riff.
A groove metal cut, a fan favorite.
“Meaning Of Life”
It starts with electronica and the riffs from Donegan build nicely while Draiman is singing “I wanna get psycho”.
Lyrically there wasn’t anything that grabbed me, but the music, the grooves and staccato vocals definitely got me thinking differently when it came to writing riffs.
Disturbed would nail it with the next two albums, “Believe” and “Ten Thousand Fists” which I consider superior to “The Sickness” and both of them did good business in the multi-platinum figures. But those stories are for a different post.