Another case of dinosaurs making fresh tracks? Let's find out.
Yesterday I was surprised by a radio sampler disc of tunes from Cream's recent Royal Albert Hall concert. What was surprising was not that Jack Bruce was in fine voice or that Eric Clapton's guitar had some decent snap to it during those famous "Badge" descending arpeggios. No, what really sparked up the ride to work was Ginger Baker's drums. Huge is the word. Those tom rolls leading into the chorus of "Sunshine Of Your Love"...tremendous. I'm not sure why I wasn't expecting this. I mean, I've seen Baker live before and he does tend to pound that kit. Was this some sort of aging rock star stereotype I'd allowed to creep in? I have no other explanation. Shame on me.
Later in the morning I popped in Ten Thousand Fists by Disturbed. This wasn't my first spin through the disc. The first couple of passes left no impression beyond "loud vocals" and "very loud guitar".
This time around, it was like my ears had a buncha wax blown out by Baker's drums. Loud guitar and voice? Hell yea...and vicious, tight drumming. I'm thinkin' that my stereotype plastering most 'modern rock' bands as boring and monochromatic (I think of this as the LimpBizkitSyndrome) was shoved aside by that earlier Cream experience.
So now that I'm actually listening, what do I hear? Basically, that there's much more going on here than just full-on agro-roar. First of all, this David Draiman guy can actually sing. The low growl, the rising verse and the soaring chorus. The anthemic title track is a perfect example.
Some high points:
- The locked-in guitar and drum hammering on "Just Stop". Seems like a more recent take on the Hetfield-Ulrich experience.
- "Deify", with its warning against unquestioned allegiances.
- More blistering guitar and drum mayhem on "Decadence". I hate to keep bringing up Metallica, but "Blackened" comes to mind.
- An honest-to-gawd, old-fashioned, double-tracked guitar solo on "Overburdened".
- The fantastic edgy & off-kilter rhythm that opens "Pain Redefined".
- The cover of Genesis' "Land of Confusion" (OK, the jury's still on that one! No, wait...I like it...I think.)
- The way the guitar riffs and the drums sort of circle around each other mid-track on "Deify"
Ten Thousand Fists is definitely one of those records that I'll have to be in the mood for. Taken in its entirety, it's nearly an hour of fairly aggressive stuff. Still, I'm happy to have been nudged (by a rock dinosaur, no less) in this direction. Cranky is one thing, closed-minded is something else entirely.First posted on Mark Is Cranky