Device Device

Warner Bros. 2013

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Device - Device


All it took was a simple “oh wah ah ah ah” to forever condemn David Draiman in the eyes of metal’s most ardent keyboard warriors. Much to their chagrin, for every detractor there seemed to be ten more Disturbed fans; allowing the divisive frontman to enjoy a tidal wave of success throughout the 2000’s.

With Disturbed on hiatus, Device finds Draiman taking his first full-fledged step away from his guaranteed paycheck. A passion project of sorts for which he wrangled ex-Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo and an impressive number of metal and hard rock royalty to lend their talents to.

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While Draiman himself initially described the project as being in the industrial vein, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails this is not. Given the polish, condensed structuring and overall absence of creative programming; Device lowers the bar considerably.

It’s troubling when the only ‘industrial’ elements recalled are that of the nu electro of Dope and Korn‘s more embarrassing digitally-augmented ventures. All too often it’s an afterthought, mere background noise for the guitars and Draiman‘s ever-present vocals to overpower.

More damning though are Draiman‘s characteristic vocal cadences and patterns; which could easily be pasted onto any number of Disturbed tracks. For Draiman, Device isn’t a bold leap, but rather a baby step outside of Disturbed‘s wheelhouse. Dull riffs that opt for repetition rather than rigidity are another letdown, doing little to compensate for the decidedly anemic programming.

Given a weak foundation, it’s no surprise that the majority of guest appearances feel phoned in. Serj Tankian of System Of A Down lends his voice, but little of his quirk, to “Out Of Line“—a song which also features Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.

Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello contributes an annoying wealth of squelch and whir to “Opinion“. But rather than a hybrid of his organic fretboard fury tangling with digital persistence, it comes off like a sampler melting down. The songs included poppy chorus may be Draiman‘s most daring move on the album; but that’s not saying that he actually pulls it off.

The cover of “Close My Eyes Forever“—Lita Ford‘s 1988 duet with Ozzy Osbourne—seems a bold choice on paper. And to her credit Halestorm‘s Lzzy Hale delivers a solid turn on the track. But this in itself is also an issue, as her range and palpable emotion painfully illuminate the limitations of Draiman‘s sterile histrionics.

Glenn Hughes and Avenged Sevenfold‘s M. Shadows also appear on subsequent tracks. And to the albums credit, it does get a tad more adventurous on the latter half. But the specter of Disturbed‘s songwriting style and Draiman‘s inability to shed his own typecasting routinely derail it. Having a wealth of guests and collaborating with them is one thing. But the stiffness and utter blandness of the cameos here suggests that the songs were written and finalized long before they were handed over.

There’s always an element of ego at play when any successful musician branches off from their main vehicle. Thusly there is always the danger of it becoming a superfluous vanity project—a fate which Device ultimately falls victim to. Outside of his diehard fans, there is just little need for Draiman to write Disturbed songs without his Disturbed bandmates. And honestly, Device is little more than that.