Disc Review: Disturbed and Fort Minor

It's hard to find a metal band these days that's bereft of pretension.

disturbed cd cover 88 (photo credit: )
disturbed cd cover 88
(photo credit: )
DISTURBED Ten Thousand Fists in the Air (Hed Arzi) It's hard to find a metal band these days that's bereft of pretension, which is exactly what's so fresh about the metallic glory of Disturbed. Not one syncopated rhythm, bizarre time signature or prolonged, gratuitous guitar solo is to be found - just verse/chorus/verse, fist-pumping metal delivered with superior musicianship, crunching guitars, fuzzy bass and pounding percussion. The band's third release, the follow-up to 2002's outstanding Believe, Ten Thousand Fists is yet another stellar, relentless assault of melodic metal. Frontman David Draiman picks up exactly where he left off on Believe. On album opener "Ten Thousand Fists in the Air," Draiman doesn't leave much to the imagination as he sings, "Evil can no longer go on a raise, if this disturbs you then walk away. You will remember the night you were struck by the sight of 10,000 fists in the air." An arena-worthy hook if I've ever heard one. Tracks such as "I'm Alive," "Guarded" and "Deify" continue to express Draiman's spiritual frustration and honesty, as well as his reconciliation with his own beliefs - dominant themes throughout Disturbed's previous albums. In fact, Ten Thousand's only misstep is the unwise cover of Genesis's "Land of Confusion." It seriously breaks the energetic and inspiring flow of what is an incredible rock album. The phenomenal cover art featuring a multi-ethnic crowd of various age groups with their fists in the air was designed by Spawn illustrator creator and toy designer Todd McFarlane. With its nightmarish grim reaper chained in the center, smiling amid a crowd of thousands, the cover alone sets the tone for an onslaught of in-your-face metal. Fort Minor The Rising Tide (Hed Arzi) Fort Minor is a side project of DJ and MC Mike Shinoda from the multi-platinum nu-metal rock band Linkin Park. If you are even remotely familiar with Shinoda's rhymes on Linkin Park's efforts, you wouldn't expect such a mediocre rapper to have any street cred - let alone the skill to pull off a solo album. Luckily, Shinoda knows where his weaknesses lie and has recruited a myriad of artists such as Black Thought of The Roots, Common and the underground Los Angeles-based hip hop duo Styles of Beyond to complement his raps. Shindoda's strengths lie not in his lyrical mastery - if you can even call it that - but rather in the melodic layers of raps alongside his own rhymes. Most of the songs are quite even-keeled and are neither inspired nor unique. A real standout, however, is the emotional "Kenji," in which Shinoda tells the story of Japanese-Americans placed in internment camps during World War II. The verses are interspersed with interviews with Shinoda's family members recounting their own experiences. Given the range of prejudices and racism slammed throughout rap and hip hop songs, Shinoda definitely expands the genre by bringing forward an unappetizing slice of Japanese-American history. Overall, if you really like what this guy does in the background (or on the sides) of Linkin Park songs, then this album is for you. Personally, I always wondered why the band let this guy jump around behind it on stage screaming "yeah, uh-huh" like he was a rapper. But Shinoda has played an integral role in making Linkin Park one of the world's most popular bands. This solo album should have been expected, but how well it sells will remain to be seen.