Nearly a decade after the release of their groundbreaking debut, The Sickness, Disturbed have become one of the most passionate and well-respected bands in the hard-rock universe, a dependable source not only of pummeling riffs and jackhammer beats, but of personal and political insights into our troubled times. Yet success (in the form of three platinum-plus albums, with both Believe and Ten Thousand Fists topping Billboard’s album chart and over nine million albums sold) hasn’t dulled this Chicago-based foursome’s taste for adventure. If anything, Disturbed’s loyal fanbase has pushed the band to newer heights of self-expression. So it makes sense that on the occasion of their fourth album, Indestructible, that frontman David Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren decided to take the reins and produce themselves in the studio.
“Doing three records with Johnny K taught us a tremendous amount,” Draiman says of the industry veteran who helmed The Sickness, Believe and Ten Thousand Fists. “We’re always trying to evolve and try new things and experiment,” adds Donegan. “So this time we wanted to do things a little bit differently.” Wengren says that Indestructible—which the band tracked over three months in Fall 2007 at Chicago’s Groovemaster Recording—afforded the band the “opportunity to prove to ourselves and to everybody else that we could do it.” The result of Disturbed’s experimentation in the studio is the group’s darkest, angriest outing yet. Inspired by two and a half years’ worth of challenging experiences, Draiman told the rest of the band that he was in the mood to purge. Fortunately, they were right there with him.
“We wanted to get back to some of the elements that were maybe lacking on the last two records,” says Donegan. “David’s got a great ability to sing really melodically, but we wanted him to get back to the rhythmic, animalistic, rapid-fire delivery he’s known for. He’s very hard to touch when he does that, and we wanted to give him music to provoke that.”
Indestructible reflects that intensity of emotion across a broad spectrum of songs: “Deceiver” takes to task a former girlfriend of Draiman’s whom he calls “a master of deception.” “Divide” celebrates the will of the individual against the conformity of the masses. In “Haunted,” which Draiman calls a veiled critique of Los Angeles (where he lived for a few years before recently moving back to Chicago), a place of love becomes a nightmare landscape populated by demons masquerading in human form. “Inside The Fire” imagines the devil encouraging the singer to take his own life as a way of rejoining his dead girlfriend. (“Writing this record is the reason I don’t have therapy bills,” Draiman notes.)
Two of the album’s most powerful tracks address the situation in the Middle East, with “Enough” lamenting the causes of war and the suffering it causes, and the title track offering support for the troops “or anyone else looking to strip themselves of fear,” as Draiman says.
Throughout Indestructible, Donegan, Wengren and Moyer back up Draiman’s words with some of the most visceral, sophisticated music they’ve ever created. Donegan says his goal was to increase the dynamics—“to have the highs be higher and the lows be lower”—and to make more cohesive the relationship that exists between guitar, bass and drums and the band’s signature electronics.
“I don’t wanna sound arrogant,” says Wengren with a laugh, “but I think we’ve made the kind of record the industry needs right now. There are not a lot of heavy bands delivering these days. I think our fans—and fans of this genre—will go absolutely nuts for this.” “People never lose their desire for aggressive music,” adds Draiman. “And we’re happy to keep giving it to them.”