Disturbed is one of those incredible bands that grew up with me. When I was a pissed off, angsty teenager, The Sickness made me feel normal. As I transitioned into becoming an adult, experienced heartache, and what I now know as soul loss, Believe comforted me that my instinct to look at the sky and breathe was the best thing I could do. Disturbed was/(is?) me and Jack’s band. The first words ever uttered by me to him were at Ozzfest, “DAVE DRAIMAN SIGNED MY SHIRT!” followed by, “would you like some pretzel?”
The first gift I received from Jack was Believe in a super fancy limited edition case. The first time I told him I loved him, I was listening to Devour. I described Jack as the “answer to my prayers” because he helped me come out of the darkness and pain of the adoption. (I hate saying “Giving my child up for adoption” it sounds so weird…) I was always drawn to the symbol on Believe’s album cover. It was the first time I realized that you do not have to follow one religious/spiritual path. It was the first confirmation I saw that my inkling that the way we as society divide the divine is flawed.
I remember struggling with this when I learned about the Inquisition and the Crusades. I remember sobbing as I watched the towers fall on 9/11. I remember arguing that people are bastardizing the message that organized religions had been intended for. I had always felt conflicted in my beliefs, because half of them made me think I was a heathen and going to hell. As I struggled in my brain and life, Disturbed became one of the few bands I consistently still listened to. Ten Thousand Fists played on repeat in my CD player for years. It was the only album that helped me understand my feelings on the government, 9/11, and theology. I have never been much on watching news. I’ve always felt that it is bullshit and anything that adopts “if it bleeds, it leads” isn’t in my wheelhouse. As I’ve grown older, that feeling has only strengthened, as my faith in humanity gets rattled consistently.
Disturbed’s theme of “Think for yourself” grows stronger with every album. I have blasted Deify during every election, because it’s how I feel about every damn election. I would never call myself an activist, I abhor slactivists, but I am a huge proponent of figuring your own shit out. Live and let die is my fundamental principle. As I watched the US turn toward the government and trade our personal freedoms in the name of safety from terrorists, watched the Patriot Act get passed with ignorance flowing in abundance, I started realizing that musicians & comedians are the most enlightened people I can listen to, and I stuck with that.
Indestructible and Asylum both helped me when I was struggling with my brain and life. I had Lock in 2006, so these plus 10,000 fists played a lot. I remember rocking him to sleep to Inside the Fire, heh. It’s awesome, SO awesome, because it’s now his favorite Disturbed song. When Jack and I separated, I couldn’t listen to them anymore. For a year and a half, I stopped listening to one of my top five bands of all time. I remember putting on Facebook happily the first time I could listen to Disturbed again. I was sitting in my car, sobbing my heart out to Darkness from Believe. I remember thinking, “I’m finally starting to heal…” It was another time Disturbed helped me with Soul Loss. My timing was perfect, because The Sound of Silence came out, and holy shit.
Immortalized, like every Disturbed album, is where my brain has been lately. More accurately, I suppose, my soul has been there lately. My kids have now been infected with the sickness, although thankfully, it’s not driven by teenage angst (or is it, with these hormones nowadays…). They fell in love with Shout 2000, which I started using to calm them down during temper tantrums. Now, every day, Disturbed is in the daily mix for them, which I love. Not just because I love the band, but I love the lyrics. They listen to Vengeful One, The Light, Immortalized all the time. Lyrically, man my kids are very wise listeners!
Disturbed is the first band that I really connected with that screamed Wake Up. Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam a bit, Metallica a bit, etc. there’s always been activist bands, but Disturbed is a level up, to me. To bring it in psychology terms, Disturbed/All things Maynard are Jung to most other bands’ Freud. I suspect the difference is that Disturbed does not shy away from questioning theology. Hell, I find Draiman inspiring in that he was raised Jewish, and has clearly formulated his own beliefs. He also went to college for Philosophy, Business, and PoliSci. (I also have a massive, massive crush on him…so, don’t judge.)
I’ve always ranted about how metal seems to be dismissed, and I’ve always felt suspicious that it is because their lyrical content is not easily digested. As I sit here in 2017, I’m kind of excited that even Katy Perry has started singing about waking the hell up. I realize Trump has pushed most people to the brink, and everyone is generally asking what the hell is going on anymore. To me, that is the natural result of so many years of slactivism. #ImWithHer, from my laptop and not at the election polls. #BernieSaveUs, but I won’t vote for you in the primary…what’s a primary? When people fear the government, man… “The government is to fear the people…” but let’s just argue about emails, parties, and ask the government to protect us from everything while we willingly trade freedoms that brave men and women bled for.
Before Trump pissed everyone off enough to ask questions, though, Disturbed was waking me up. What do I mean when I say “waking up?” Honestly, I do not know yet. I know that I am not the person I was a year ago, or any time before. If nothing else, hearing someone else sing my emotions – to heal or inspire, makes me motivated to keep digging inside. I know that there are a lot of ignorant people in this world, and I know that the wisest teachers I have had headbang and scream.
I’ve read that in 2017, we are going through a major shift in collective consciousness (which has nothing to do with a toupee’d narcissist. It’s astrology). I could attribute the change in lyrical content for most bands to that shift alone. I do find it intriguing that Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Katy Perry, and tons of other bands have all thematically structured songs/albums around the concepts of awakening, enlightenment, and man made gods. I like that Disturbed never stayed completely focused on politics, but used politics & theology to elucidate that people use their TVs instead of brains. The Sound of Silence has become a haunting description of reality, as we all stare down at screens, talking without actually saying words out loud. Communication/Discourse is a dying art, while screaming, arguing, and ignorance are the norm. While we all just get sicker and sicker…(oooh ah ah ah ah!)
I’m very glad that my kids are being raised by me to think and question everything, because I struggled with my inquisitive self as a kid. Metal is the music that made me feel okay to say “Dude, this blows.” (hahaha) Being a “weird metalhead” also helped me to accept I was never going to fit in, anyway. (Only took me 20 years to stop giving a shit about it…)