Let it all be a reminder of how surely David Draiman rocks — Device’s self-titled debut delivers, “Vilify” leading the charge

There’s something about David Draiman’s inspired take on hard rock, tinged with all which is both invigorating and frustrating about the millennial hybrid fusion of rap and metal, that simply can’t be purged from my ears. For many of the same reasons I can’t stop listening to new Meatloaf records despite the fact that for every genius hook there’s an equally disappointing plummet, I find myself salivating whenever I hear any new track with that distinctive sing-song growl. “Arrrrrrrrrraughhhhhh!” It must be a product of my frenetic rock upbringing throughout the nineties which simply destroys all denial.

Draiman’s latest outlet, Device, has a self-titled debut coming out April 9th via the Warner label, and it arrives at once as addictive as anything Disturbed’s yet released, yet with more of an 80’s-inspired twist, particularly the incredible duet with Lizzy Hale on Device’s brilliant cover of Ozzy Osborne and Lita Ford’s 1988 “Close My Eyes Forever” which manages to blend pop hooks with Draiman’s typically uncompromising vocal energy. More on that in a moment.

First things first, however, as “You Think You Know” opens the album with typical Draimanesque bluster, including classic lines like “Get off me, you don’t know where I’ve been,” sung before he abruptly calls the mystery female a whore while referring to the monsters inside him. He’s like the opposite of Meat Loaf’s usual protagonist, the one constantly in arrested-development teenage lust, searching for desperate sexual release. Instead, Draiman’s songs come from that utterly opposite position where it’s all about living on a razor’s edge between fear, lust and ultimate insanity, a world rotting to its core.

You think you know, but it’s all in your mind. The sickness is everywhere, and we’re losing the battle.

What’s great about Device is the band’s willingness to twist the knife even as they merge Disturbed’s typical hard rock pastiche with backdrops built on layer after layer of Nine Inch Nails industrial and New Order inspired pop gloss. The opening triptych that is “You Think You Know,” ‘Penance” and the album’s first single, “Vilify,” unite everything fans will have come to expect from Draiman and Disturbed, but the new band seems more willing to play with those conventional expectations. “You’ve never had control from the onset,” he tells us. “Go find another lapdog, fucker!” He’s got this roiling tide of bile, distrust and confusion about the past, present and future, and the only way to get anywhere is to subvert every demand placed on the music.

Fuck you all!
Let every minute be a reminder
Of how it all came crashing down

Can’t believe this is happening
Don’t want to start over again!
How can this all keep happening
Over and over and over again?”

At that moment we finally come to a fork in the road — that aforementioned incredible cover of “Close My Eyes Forever” which should be the next single and the album’s ultimate mainstream breakthrough. Call it “Draiman Unchained” — apart from our demands for repeated past glories, the singer becomes a man willing to finally take the album to a new level. “If I close my eyes forever will it all remain unchanged?” Draiman and Hale sing back and forth, and while the answer in the end has to be “no,” we understand where they’re coming from.

It is easy to understand why Draiman has gone to such trouble to tell fans this isn’t an outlet to replace Disturbed — clearly he’s after a chance to redefine what’s come before, look toward the future and rediscover why he’s here to rock in the first place. The remainder of the album continues Device’s experimentation with hard rock and industrial, proving to be way more than a vanity side project while Disturbed takes a hiatus. “Out Of Line,” “Hunted” and “War Of Lies” won’t win over everyone who may have left Disturbed and David Draiman behind them a decade ago, but these songs (and in particular the album’s first four tracks) showcase a performer who knows his voice and is ready to get out there and dominate yet again, blending elements of the last three decades of hard rock into something perfectly shaped for our modern alternative landscape.

It’s not indispensable, but there’s something refreshingly invigorating about this album. Let it all be a reminder of how surely David Draiman rocks, and why we all could stand to take ourselves a little less seriously.


9 thoughts on “Let it all be a reminder of how surely David Draiman rocks — Device’s self-titled debut delivers, “Vilify” leading the charge

  1. A good article about what we can expect from Device. I am curious to see how a voice like David Draiman’s would be used with Device…as well as the style of the music. It sounds as it may be very much different than Disturbed. I remember a ways back there was another front man (Rob Halford), who had his projects. At that time, Halford had (in my opinion), the unique voice. I can’t wait to hear Device. I would’ve been equally happy with a new release from Disturbed. However, better things can come from a successful Device.

    • I wouldn’t say his vocal work is dramatically different from Disturbed … he is, of course, the same guy who recorded those songs we’ve heard all decade and enjoyed. But with the new band, he’s able to take those songs in a more industrial direction. When he says in interviews that the sound is way more influenced by bands like NIN, he means it… particularly in the actual song arrangements. “Villify” owes a great deal to the sound of Disturbed, but “Penance” and “War of Lies” in particular showcase what he can do when the band lets loose with the more varied arrangements. And “Close My Eyes Forever” continues Draiman’s penchant for reviving aural tropes of the 80s, in a way which makes them work just as well for today’s audiences. He was a child of that decade, and those are the bands which shaped the sound Disturbed made their own as the 90s came to an end.

      It’s not a perfect album, but it’s a really wild listen, and it holds up to repeated play, which makes it something I’d keep in my listening arsenal. Like I said, those who dismiss the band outright as a Disturbed destroyer, and those who dismiss bands like Disturbed as dreck, need to stop taking themselves so seriously and give the music a shot based on Draiman’s influences and the hooks of these arrangements. Once fans get a chance to hear the songs, they’ll surely agree 😉

      Thanks for commenting! Feel free to share the site with your friends and encourage them to join the conversation. No scores here, just discussion of great music 😉

  2. I hear the element of Disturbed in Draiman’s voice like before. I have Vilify on repeat and am finally getting my fix of what I’ve been missing of Disturbed. I can’t wait to hear Draiman and Lzzy Hale join for Close My Eyes Forever. I will definately be buying the first album ASAP. Welcome back David Draiman. I think the music industry has missed you.

    • Thanks for commenting … I wish I could share short clips of songs like “Close My Eyes Forever,” but my review copy is tethered by the label and for obvious reasons it’s not to be leaked. Here’s hoping they’ll choose to release at least a tease of that song to give listeners a taste.

  3. Pingback: “I’ve Never Been Afraid to Say What I Think” — An Interview with Device’s David Draiman | Hear! Hear!

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