Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Disturbed – The Sound of Silence

Hello dvrkness my old friend…


Edward Okulicz: I’m not entirely convinced the arrangement of this wasn’t originally intended for, you know, Susan Boyle or someone.

Scott Mildenhall: Learned Saint Etienne don Bob Stanley has described this as sounding “like a Big Train sketch without the visuals”. On one level, it’s hard to disagree: this song is absurd. But it’s easy from there to fall into a flat-out refusal to engage, let alone take it seriously. Even without the actual visuals of this Conan performance, it’s a cover of audibly utmost sincerity that takes it from intimately crushing to something of swooping majesty, a clarion call to doom rather than a quiet one. Simon & Garfunkel’s “tenement halls” were desolate and muted; Disturbed’s are more like a castle’s. If you want it to be, it’s moving.

Lauren Gilbert: Pretty sure I would have preferred the sound of actual silence.

Micha Cavaseno: There was never a soul in metal who truly wishes he could’ve won American Idol more than David Draiman. There’s truly nothing wrong with this cover beyond Draiman’s overeager embellishments, a chance to show his range now that he isn’t shackled with the demands of rocking out. But it’s something about Disturbed’sr desperation to perform, to entertain, to service. The best of metal is powerful and commanding, but serves best in its ineptitude and refusal to adhere to smarter decisions (look at Sabbath’s debut, it’s so lovable despite having the worst stolen Zeppelin and Cream ideas of their generation). Tragically, that’s a message that most metal enthusiasts, who are split between a group of infantile lifestyle brandishers with as little tact or sense of moderation as fursuiters or people who use metal as a zany element of off-key “radness” like bacon, oddball comedy quotes or catchphrase t-shirts. Metal was always a domain for those who didn’t fit in and needed to feel like they could realize their best, but now it’s a welcome home for fools to shamelessly embrace their worst.

Jer Fairall: I’ll say this for Disturbed: unlike the actual worst cover of 2016, “The Sound of Silence” does not represent a misreading of the source material so horrifying that it could have only been rooted in contempt for the original, nor is it even, like the funniest cover in recent memory, entirely the result of a tragically dunderheaded earnestness. No, Disturbed get exactly what it is about lyrics like “Hello darkness, my old friend” or “the people bowed and prayed / to the neon God they made” that makes them adaptable to growly vocals and pompously cinematic string arrangements and thus go about absurdly inflating everything that was elegant and haunting and beautifully zeitgeisty out of Paul and Art’s original. But if “The Sound of Silence” was always, in fact, drivel, that was an illusion I could have kept on living with.

Katherine St Asaph: This cover lumbers through all its added un-silence with catlike tread, and each word is weighed down with additional pomp. But I weaned myself on too much questionable stuff to dislike this Manowar duetting with Sarah Brightman, Ted Neeley doing Jesus Christ Superstar so long he thinks he’s actually Jesus-ass track nearly as much as a Disturbed cover of “The Sound of Silence” deserves. David Draiman sings fine, albeit in a self-consciously “legit,” guy-in-your-vocal-recital-who’s-actually-a-CS-major-but-has-hiddendepths fashion. And at least they resisted the no doubt potent temptation to retrofit the lyrics into a +3 Reddit comment about sheeple. People thought the original was a joke, too.

Cassy Gress: This is one of those songs where you know what it will sound like as soon as you see the artist and title.  Or you think you do, anyway. Instead we got some weird “My Immortal” ripoff, crossed with the soundtrack for a national park tourism video. Go take a listen to the original, any random bit of it, and even if you don’t like that sound, compare to how painfully overwrought and plodding this is.

Brad Shoup: “‘Sounds of Silence’ actually became a running joke,” Dave Van Ronk says in Paul Simon: A Life. “For a while there, it was only necessary to start singing ‘Hello darkness, my old friend…’ and everybody would crack up.” This is historic: the one time Greenwich Village was ahead of the curve on anything. It wasn’t just the words, to be fair: folkies looked at Art & Paul and saw Tom & Jerry. But it was also the words! “The Sound of Silence” posits Simon as the resistance leader during some emotional apocalypse: fluffed phrasing and self-conscious writing tricks gum the works. If Tom Wilson hadn’t directed two electric guitarists to sound like half-speed surf, I don’t know that this tune would’ve gotten as major. It was the kind of clever condescension that Simon shed as he heard the wider world. But in the hands of Disturbed! There’s no worry about being condescended to with Disturbed. You might get hummed at — David Draiman doesn’t really do vibrato so much, just sustain. When he takes off, though — girded with timpani hits and endless string swells — it’s great. Sure, it’s a “Mad World” for people who listen to “Mad World” too much as it is, but it’s also the kind of poorly-considered sap we didn’t know we were snacking on all along. 

Mark Sinker: CHOON!

Iain Mew: *stares haunted into the distance for the duration of everyone else’s blurbs* …I first came across this the same day as the meme using the original. One way they both lose out in common to the unadorned original is an emphasis solely on the despair of the first line, a large part of their reason for being. It’s a small detail, but taking “old friend” as bleak sarcasm as a starting point, neglecting the possibility of comfort, takes out a lot of the narrative tension. Even as Disturbed escalate the song to full superhero movie sized spectacle, they lose some of its power because the plot is always so apparent.

Reader average: [5.42] (7 votes)

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6 Responses to “Disturbed – The Sound of Silence”

  1. Oh my God I would love a Subo cover of this (not that it could be better than her “Enjoy the Silence” cover). Think I might put this on a playlist alongside Limp Bizkit’s definitive take on “Behind Blue Eyes” and then, well, no idea.

  2. maxwell your first line cracked me up

  3. Scott, SPIN’s here for your playlist. Kind of heated I wasn’t part of this, but.

  4. Fuck this shit. Where are the Beyonce reviews?

  5. patience, my dear