Believe

Disturbed

Warner Brothers, 2002

http://www.disturbed1.com

REVIEW BY: Greg Calhoun

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/2010

Chicago hard rock act Disturbed’s sophomore album, Believe, faced heavy expectations after their aggressive debut, Down With The Sickness, brought them into the spotlight.  Believe is less raw than its predecessor, but the extra polish also means improved musicianship, with frontman David Draiman developing a better ear for melody to balance his trademark guttural intensity.

“Prayer” opens the record with crunching guitars and its chorus channels Iron Maiden vocals more so than on older gatling-gun tracks like “Voices” and “Stupify.”  Yet its bridge is definitely Draiman singing with both force and grace in the same stanza.  Songs like “Prayer” and “Awaken” demonstrate the band’s growth in controlling tempo and mood, able to build anticipation and emotionally lead the listener for dramatic impact.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Because of this maturation, Believe has consistent quality throughout.  However, several songs do manage to stick out for their excellence. “Remember” has a smooth melody line and allows Draiman to emote without any vocal tricks, and he pulls it off well.  The track also includes a rare lead guitar part that blends in well for a band that focuses on tight riffs and rhythm guitar. “Intoxication” pounds and thrashes while maintaining a strong vocal melody.  This song will give you that extra boost on a road trip, and you won’t be able to stop singing and shouting at all the trucks as you scream by. “Mistress” utilizes dynamic well, pushing and pulling before setting up for the ferocious finish. For a band that has been criticized for being predictable, this track displays a diversity of styles and delivers several musical surprises.

The closing track, “Darkness,” is a treat for those who listen to the entire album.  Draiman and company back off the distortion for a slow ballad featuring piano, finger-picked guitar, and strings. The beautifully sung cut sounds like a mournful prayer in a time of loss, as Draiman asks, “Carry me away / I need your strength to get me through this.” His mantra is, “On my own,” and you can feel the weakness and abandonment in his voice. “Darkness” provides a memorable finish to this remarkable sophomore effort.

While Down With the Sickness delivered Disturbed to the rock world’s attention, it is Believe that signals their staying power.  Where others have regressed under the pressure to produce, Disturbed evolved their sound and crafted an album worth believing in.

Rating: A

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