Saturday, July 27, 2013

Device - Device

Device
Device
Warner Bros. Records

When Disturbed officially announced their indefinite hiatus in late 2011, it didn’t take front man David Draiman long to unveil his new side project in the form of Device. For many fans, the news was a mixed blessing. On the positive side, Draiman was making some new music. But on the negative side, it also meant that Disturbed weren’t planning on a return anytime soon. But while some mourned the absence of Disturbed, Draiman’s new project did at least have many curious in what he and Device collaborator Geno Lenardo (Ex-Filter guitarist/programmer/bassist/song writer) would eventually deliver on their self-titled debut.
In the lead up to the release of Device’s debut, Draiman said that the band’s direction would be more industrial metal sounding than anything Disturbed ever was, and that the album would feature some interesting and completely unexpected guest appearances. With the album now released, it has to be said that Draiman wasn’t misleading fans. ‘Device’ is more industrial sounding, and the album has a lot of guest appearances. But what Draiman didn’t tell fans is that while the band is named Device, it really could have easily been dubbed Disturbed 2.0.
The opening track ‘You Think You Know’ (Which served as the second single lifted from the album) is a clear example of what Device has to offer, and how similar Disturbed and Device are on almost every level. Structure wise, Draiman sticks to what he’s good at and doesn’t stray too far from the template on the vocal front. Musically, Lenardo offers up some fairly solid guitars, but with the addition of dense keyboards and up-front drums, it all amounts to a fairly traditional industrial rock fare (A cross between Disturbed, Filter and Nine Inch Nails at their blandest). Song wise, ‘You Think You Know’ is one of the better tracks from ‘Device’, but hardly the most memorable either.
With a drop in the industrialised effects, ‘Penance’ emerges as one of the tracks on the album to sound like it could have been lifted from a long lost Disturbed release, while ‘Vilify’ (The first single from the album) is a definite stand out cut with the duo making a determined effort to distance themselves from Disturbed with a lean more towards the industrial aspect of their sound. But having said that, the song’s lyrics are a bit cliché and repetitive, which means that as long as your expectations aren’t too high, the song really does stand out amongst the pack.
The first guest appearance on the album is Lzzy Hale (Halestorm vocalist), who duets with Draiman on the Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne ballad ‘Close My Eyes Forever’. In the past, Draiman always struggled when it came to covering other people’s songs (For example, the cover Genesis and U2 covers Disturbed butchered). But on this track, Draiman manages to do pretty well. Unfortunately, the industrialised musical reworking of the hard rock classic seems to lack the warmth of the original, which makes it sound too mechanical to say it does the song any real justice.
On paper, the joined forces of System Of A Down vocalist Serj Tankian and Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler on ‘Out Of Line’ sounded interesting, but Tankian sounds a little off on the song, even if the music is quite strong. Elsewhere, Rage Again The Machine/The Night Watchman’s guitarist Tom Morello guests on ‘Opinion’, which is something different altogether as Morello tones down his typical guitar tone for something more akin to what Device actually needed. The song is also one of the catchiest on the album, and one of the rare examples that Draiman actually has something worthwhile to say on the lyrical front.
‘Hunted’ and ‘War Of Lies’ are both solid enough tracks, but in the grand scheme of the album as a whole, come across the most ‘filler’ like material with their fairly featureless delivery, while ‘Haze’ fares much better in the latter part of the album, with Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows adding the most of all the guest artists, to really give the song a personality that proves Device can deviate from the formula from time to time.
The closing track ‘Through It All’ was probably the song I was most interested in listening to, as it features a guest appearance from the legendary Glenn Hughes (Ex-Deep Purple/Black Sabbath/Black Country Communion). Unfortunately, the said joint venture has a mixed reaction from me. The first half of the song is quite plodding with its dark, industrialised ballad like feel. Hughes sounds too out of place here, and inevitably comes across as ill fitting at best. But it’s around the middle where the song takes on a faster and heavier sound that both Draiman and Hughes really come to life. Hughes might take on a more backing vocalist role, but his efforts perfectly compliment Draiman’s own strong melodies. If you disregard the first half of this track, ‘Through It All’ is a truly strong effort, and one of my personal favourites. But as a whole, it sounds too drawn out and messy to work.
Overall, ‘Device’ is an enjoyable release – provided you’re a fan of Disturbed. Draiman and Lenardo may be the only real members here, but Device really does sound a lot like Disturbed, only with a greater industrial influence than anything Disturbed ever delivered.
As for the guest appearances, well some worked, and some didn’t.
If Device releases a second album, I’d like to see the duo push the envelope a little more and really step outside their comfort zone. If they don’t, they’ll always be viewed as Draiman’s industrialised version of his former outfit, and nothing more.

For more information on Device, check out - http://www.deviceband.com/

© Justin Donnelly