Headbanger’s Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’sBram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
Since Mayhem Fest kicked off last month, frontman David Draiman has been telling reporters that the band will be taking an “indefinite hiatus” once their current touring cycle is done. The news of Disturbed possibly calling it quits has garnered a mix reaction from the metal community. One person who hopes Disturbed doesn’t break up is Trivium’s Matt Heafy, telling Artisan News in a recent interview that “The world needs that band” and that “They’re one of the best bands in what they do.”
Heafy’s comments got us to thinking. Though they have as many critics as they do fans, Disturbed’s success is unquestionable. So with that in mind, Bram and Zach debate whether the metal world truly needs Disturbed in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl.
Zach: I’d argue that Disturbed calling it quits for good would be a major blow to the metal world. I actually am a fan of the band’s music, but understand why some can’t stand them. However, you have to put aside your feelings for the band to see the bigger picture. Not only do Disturbed’s albums still sell extremely well for any rock group (let alone metal), but they also debut at #1. Do you know how many metal bands have debuted at #1 since Disturbed’s Asylum did last year? Well, unless you consider Linkin Park and Foo Fighters metal or hard rock, ZERO!
Not only can Disturbed still sell albums (during a time when most can’t mind you), but they also can still sell tickets. And that leads to fans discovering harder/heavier metal acts. Not only did this year’s Mayhem Fest see them on the same bill with the likes of All Shall Perish and Red Fang, but Disturbed have also brought bands like Chimaira, Trivium and Killswitch Engage on the road with them during their own headlining shows or Music As A Weapon tour. Disturbed not only gives these less mainstream acts the chance to perform in front of a new audience, but in front of an arena or amphitheatre filled with a new audience. So at the very least, Disturbed’s indefinite hiatus would be a blow to the metal community in regards to losing a key “gateway” metal band.
Bram: OK, I’ll give it to you that the band sells albums, and kudos to them for taking out some heavier bands to open for them, but I think that both you and Matt are overstating things a bit. Does the world really “need” Disturbed? I’d say absolutely not. They’re obviously taking a hiatus/breaking up for a reason. Why should they stay together for the sole fact that they’re successful? If there’s acrimony/substance abuse problems/ego problems or whatever else, taking time off might be the best thing possible for the band. Maybe they take a few years, get some therapy, put out a solo album or two, then reunite once realizing that they’re not going to do better apart.
But hey, if they wind up never getting back together, I think that’ll be ok too. They definitely have a niche, and as Heafy says, are among the best at what they do. But what they do is essentially write commercial hard rock. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of other bands that can assume their mantle. Avenged Sevenfold is definitely at that status, but they weren’t a few years back. And if you had to describe the band’s sound, you could lump them in with nu-metal. For them to have outlasted a niche genre and go out at the top of their game would be a nice end for them.
Z: I’m not saying that they shouldn’t take a year or two off and maybe even do a solo album or two. They obviously need a break after going non-stop on each album cycle. Hell, it might be nice for fans as well (I’ve been complaining that they’ve been touring way too much). But I fear that taking too long of a break might not result in a “big successful reunion”. Sometimes when a band comes back after 5 or 6 years, fans are ecstatic for their comeback. Other times, people forget and lose interest. Now die-hard fans will always care, but will Disturbed be able to attract the same massive audience out of the spotlight for a massive time? Not so sure about that.
As for other bands assuming the mantle, I agree somewhat. Yes, A7X are at that status, but Disturbed still are and have the potential to stay there. Sure, you could lump them into the nu metal genre, but the fact that they’ve been able to outlast the genre shows that they could continue to do so in the future. While there are a handful of potential new candidates, right now I’d argue the only bands at said status are Disturbed, A7X and Slipknot (and who knows what their status?). With the current state of the industry, we need as many bands who can pack arenas on their name alone out there.
B: Yeah, or maybe bands will have to assemble the best packages while touring. Disturbed have actually been doing that for some time now. They’re a headlining band, but they’re fine with assembling good tours to go out with. Would they be able to fill an arena on their own? Nope. Not that a 3,000 seat club is anything to sneeze at, but a majority of the tours the band has done in recent years have been Ozzfest, or Mayhem. There can be other bands plugged in that aren’t necessarily arena headliners, but do respectable enough business to bring people to a festival.