Despite Disturbed's ties to the past-its-prime new-metal movement, the band's album, Ten Thousand Fists, beat out Bon Jovi's new Have a Nice Day, and is still in the Top Ten in its second week on the chart, at Number Eight.
For Disturbed, this performance is a vindication in the face of an alien musical landscape that Draiman decries on the furious album track "Sons of Plunder." "The song is about all these pussy-ass, makeup-wearing, suit-wearing mama's boys who are a disgrace to rock & roll," says Draiman. "That whole movement is the equivalent of what grunge did to pure metal in the early Nineties. It made the modern rock landscape a whole different environment."
But the band -- which formed in 1996 after Draiman answered a newspaper ad placed by the other members -- felt just as out of place in new metal. "We've never had turntables or DJs, and we've never had rap-metal vocals," says guitarist Dan Donegan. "We've always been more influenced by bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, which were aggressive but still had melody." Disturbed embrace those influences more than ever on Ten Thousand Fists, with Donegan busting out old-school guitar solos and Draiman's voice soaring to Rob Halford-like heights.
Those old-metal tendencies -- along with the occasional futuristic electronic noise -- led Ozzy Osbourne to declare the Ozzfest vets "the future of heavy metal." And in the tradition of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Ten Thousand Fists is filled with anti-war lyrics. One track, "Deify," kicks off with a mocking sample of President Bush declaring, "We go forward to defend freedom," before Draiman launches into a chorus that blasts the public for worshiping a "demented man."
The same sentiments led the band to choose an unlikely cover song: Genesis' synth-soaked, politically charged 1986 hit "Land of Confusion." "The synth part is so syncopated that it's easily adapted to an aggressive guitar riff," says Draiman.
The band dedicated the album to a friend, former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was shot by a deranged fan in December. "There are certain tracks on this record that became attached to his memory," Draiman says. "The day [Darrell died] was the 9/11 of rock. A little of us died that day, too."