You’d think that when a member of an established band decides to create a side-project, it’d be to express emotions and convey a different side of themselves that you otherwise couldn’t in your main band. Such is not the case here. While there are a handful of tiny differences here to differentiate Device from David Draiman’s main band Disturbed, it ultimately comes across as strikingly similar to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it does pose a few questions. But we’ll get to those in a bit.
We’ll separate the ten songs on the album into two categories; Songs without guest spots, and songs with guest spots. Let’s begin with those without. The album starts off with a trio of tracks that, if you weren’t aware of what you were listening to, could easily be mistaken for Disturbed. The lyrical content of tracks You Think You Know and Vilify harken back to The Sickness, when Disturbed wasn’t quite as mature as they are now. I’m sure everyone remembers the song Droppin’ Plates, with it’s eloquent ending of, “Here I come I’m droppin’ plates on your ass bitch.” While this cd doesn’t get quite that bad, it does get dangerously close. I like at least a little substance in my lyrics, and “Can you shut down the funky vibe and get the fuck up, yeah, better believe me,” doesn’t quite qualify as such. Musically, these tracks are just fine, as long as you like your Disturbed riffs with electronic elements. (Vilify = Stupify ??)
Hunted and War of Lies slow things down. I honestly wish there was more that I could say about them, but that’s just not the case. Take the first three tracks of the album, but slow down their intensity and speed, and you have these two, albeit with slightly more prominent electronics.
The other five songs on the cd consist of tracks with various guest appearances by musicians in the rock and metal world. Close My Eyes Forever is a cover of a song originally done by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne. Draiman has Lzzy Hale (who I assume is not a fan of vowels 33% of the time) singing Lita Ford’s parts, while he tackles Ozzy’s. While Draiman is no Ozzy, and Hale is no Ford, they both sound great together. They harmonize quite well and compliment each other nicely.
Out of Line features Serj Tankian (System of A Down) on guest vocals, and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) on bass. Again, it’s fine musically, (as is the case with pretty much the whole cd) but vocally, it’s a mess. I love Tankian and his work with all of his other bands and projects, but his voice here sounds incredibly awkward and out of place. It takes me right out of the song.
Opinion is a formidable contender for a single, with guest guitar work by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. His parts are pretty standard Morello, with a fun, simple solo just before the bridge. I feel this would do very well as a single, due to the catchy riffs and synths. Also, the song is completely absent of silly, childish lyrics. That’s always a plus.
Draiman enlists Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows to help out on Haze. If you are familiar with M. Shadows’ work, then you know what you’re getting. When he initially comes in, it sounds like he phoned his performance in, but he quickly remedies that and puts forth much more effort. Not much else to say, though the chorus has what may be my favorite riff on the album.
Ender Through It All has the legendary Glenn Hughes, of Deep Purple fame, singing along with Draiman. Now, I was warned about this track before going into it. I heard numerous negative things about it. The result is.. not bad actually. This turned out to be my favorite track on the album. If you can make it through the truly dreadful first verse, it’s all [mostly] uphill from there. The chorus is phenomenal. Draiman’s subdued vocals fit perfectly with Hughes’ highs. It WILL get stuck in your head. The ambient break at 2:26 and the unexpected tempo change at 2:40, which eventually leads back into the wonderful chorus, is a welcome surprise in the album’s otherwise predictable song structure. Though, I could have definitely done without the annoying, buzzing electronics from 3:19 to 3:36. They were unnecessary and obnoxious.
Overall, while musically enjoyable, the album leaves me with several unanswered questions. Why did Disturbed have to go on hiatus while Draiman crafted ten songs that could very well have fit into the Disturbed cataloge? Yes, the songs here are all coated with electronics, but Disturbed are no strangers to industrial-tinged songs. Tracks like The Game and Façade (from The Sickness and Indestructible respectively) are slathered with healthy doses of driving electronics. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Disturbed cd with a guest spot. Why? It wouldn’t have hurt anything. Maybe the slight alterations found here could have been what Asylum needed to stand out. But I tigress, these aren’t my bands, and I’m sure there are reasons for everything.
The bottom line is, if you like Disturbed, you will enjoy this cd. Be warned, for every positive stride this cd makes, it has just as many missteps. Angsty, childish “fuck you for hurting me now you’re going to pay” lyrics, some awkward guest vocalist choices, and some truly jarring electronic bits are among the slip ups, but those are made up for with heavy, catchy riffs, some fantastic duets, and lofty sing-a-long choruses.
On a scale of 1 to 37, 1 being pretty good, 25 being horrendous, 32 being stellar, and 13 being the equivalent of a lobotomy.. Device gets a ▲.