Those who don’t like a certain style of music — it could be rap, country, classical, whatever — identify themselves with the line, “it all sounds the same to me.” Most folks departing their early 20s feel that way about heavy metal — it’s all too loud, too ponderous, too simplistic. And sounds the same.
But a couple of bands capable of booking an arena the size of Target Center Tuesday night — under the title Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival — demonstrate how easily melodic songs fit within the classic trappings of metal. Co-headliners Disturbed (from Chicago), and Avenged Sevenfold (known to their fans as A7X, from Huntington, California), boast the usual accoutrements — the gothic gear, tattoos-and/or-piercings, buff physiques and testosterone swagger — but supplement it with catchy songs that have as much in common with grunge, emo, and even SoCal rock from the ’70s, as they do with classic heavy metal.
Disturbed came to prominence via their staccato but tenaciously tuneful hit, “Sickness,” and by providing the definitive version of “Glass Shatters,” the theme song for wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Bald singer David Draiman is clearly the riveting epicenter of the group, both visually and musically. He can go guttural in the true spirit of thrash-rock, but can waft talk-song narratives and curlicue his short, sharp phrases with just enough of a lilt to make a parade of grace notes.
Check out this studio rendition of “The Sickness.” It’s got all the heavy metal touchstones — indeed, it is almost a proto-Ozzy Osbourne type of song. But how can such sludge come so close to being danceable?
“The Sickness” is as close to typical metal as Disturbed gets. Later material, including stuff from their upcoming album, “Asylum” — out Aug. 31 and sure to be promoted heavily at Target Center — are fleet, riff-heavy workouts that sound like mixture of Soundgarden, Metallica and Faith No More. Here is the Myspace page that contains a few tracks off the new disc.
Avenged Sevenfold also bears a distinct semblance to Metallica, and are even more inclined toward turbo-charged pop music than Disturbed. The group has crossed over, improbably garnering “Best New Artist” at the 2006 MTV Awards despite being a full-fledged group since 1999. They’ve also been the subject of a predictable backlash from metal-heads as a result of that mainstreaming.
Check out this rendition of A7X’s hit, “Almost Easy,” from the 2007 Vans Warped tour, and you can see how naturally the group straddles — or collapses — the metal-pop divide.
Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold at Target Center, Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m.; tickets are $29.25-$49.25.