As the nü-metal era draws to a close, fans of the genre are learning one album
and one band at a time who is staying and who is going. Disturbed’s debut album,
2000’s The Sickness, was nü-metal through and through, and the band was
quickly predicted to be another flash in the pan in what was a skillet of
similar talent. Such predictions proved false as The Sickness went on to
sell upwards of 3.4 million copies. 2002’s Believe cemented Disturbed’s
place as a band to be reckoned with, as it sold 1.6 million copies and provided
such hits as “Prayer” and “Liberate.”
Disturbed knew going in to the recording of Ten Thousand Fists that they
were going to need to step it up, and show the metal community that they are
talented and diverse enough to stay in the arena, while at the same time not
alienating their dedicated fan base. Ten Thousand Fists showcases a band
that has clearly found its sound, but is also not afraid to layer it and show
their true musical chops. This is their most polished effort to date, lyrically
The album’s opener, “Ten Thousand Fists,” will have those proverbial fists in
the air as drummer Mike Wengren and guitarist Dan Donegan commence the
festivities with a “Down with the Sickness”-style riff. Once singer David
Draiman kicks in with his distinctly authoritative pipes, you know it’s on. From
here it is a journey through politics, rejection and, at times, outright anger.
The album’s best track (and soon-to-be-single), “Just Stop,” has an undeniable
power and is perhaps the song that best showcases what Disturbed is all about.
This is the song you want to be blasting during the car ride home after a lousy
day at work. “Stricken” features an element that I hope to see more of from
Disturbed in the future: the guitar solo. Donegan shreds it with ease, almost as
if it is simply an experiment. Wengren is, when you really dissect the band’s
sound, the beating heart, and adds immeasurably to the feel of every song. He is
one of the best and most underrated drummers in the genre today. New bassist
John Moyer (taking over for Fuzz from the previous two albums) steps in with
command and shines on several songs, namely the cryptic opening to
Lyrically, Disturbed have taken a step forward in terms of depth and complexity.
Their earlier efforts were basically straight-up anger anthems, but here they
explore other topics in an intriguing manner. “Sacred Lie” serves as the
seemingly mandatory attack on a certain President regarding a certain war, but
the thoughtful lyrics and tone drive it past any other run-of-the-mill take on
the subject. Draiman does less grunting and coughing (for lack of a better term)
on this record, and the result is a much more mature sound.
As much as the album boasts Disturbed’s progression, it is front-loaded with the
best tracks and tapers off in its second half as the songs begin to sound more
and more alike. “Forgiven” and “Avarice” seem too simplistic and out of place
for the record, and a cover of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” is a questionable
choice at best.
Disturbed has taken the path that many fans were expecting, and have proven that
they will be around for the foreseeable future. Their talent continues to
blossom and expound, making their next release one to eagerly anticipate.
Note: Ten Thousand Fists is available in both standard and special edition
formats, with the special edition featuring extended artwork and a hardback case
for the disc. Costing an extra $10, the special edition is likely for avid fans
and art aficionados as it does not contain any extra tracks or B-sides.