Known for hard-hitting rock tracks like The Sickness, the Chicago nü metal band Disturbed isn’t exactly known for its admiration of the soft folk music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Nevertheless, the award-winning heavy metal outfit somehow covered Simon and Garfunkel’s signature track, The Sound of Silence, in a live appearance on Conan in 2016 — and it’s surprisingly good. The cover comes off their 2015 album Immortalized.
Bands throughout the ages have tirelessly covered the decades-old Billboard hit. In fact, since the track came out in 1965, musicians have recorded over 60 covers of the iconic folk-rock piece, according to Smithsonian Magazine. That includes more recent covers from artists like James Blake who produced his electronica rendition in 2015. But at least for Blake, the cover seems somewhat fitting. As far as Disturbed goes, it’s hard to imagine uttering the metal band’s name in the same sentence as folk-pop. But the band’s Conan performance just goes to show that the alternative metal act is more eclectic than we give them credit for.
Accompanied by a packed string section, a piano and a pair of massive kettledrums, frontman David Draiman gives an admittedly spectacular performance on the Conan stage, transforming Simon and Garfunkel’s folk-rock hit into something entirely different. That’s not to say that Draiman goes metal on the song — electric guitars are conspicuously absent from this Disturbed performance. Rather, Draiman’s distinctive baritone gives the song an even darker quality. And even when Draiman does have to contend with the high notes, he tackles them with surprising ease. Suffice it to say that Draiman is not only a respectable singer in the metal genre. With grace and aplomb, he breathes new life into a cherished American classic, adding something new to the song’s long musical history.
But for fans of the band, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise given the group’s success in the early aughts. With their hit The Sickness, which came out in 2000, the band immediately hit the top of the charts. The album made it onto the Billboard 200 list and was eventually certified five-times platinum, according to AllMusic. The band saw further commercial success with their album Immortalized, which also topped the charts in 2015. In AllMusic’s review of the 2015 album, which includes The Sound of Silence cover, James Christopher Monger writes that the album offers fans “late-2000s heavy rock piled high with bottom-heavy riffs, piston-like percussion, and big modern rock radio-ready choruses.”
Writing on the cover, he adds: “The band’s shamelessly melodramatic reading of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence, which effectively utilizes the pared-down piano and vocal treatment that helped Gary Jules resurrect Tears for Fears’ Mad World, and the anthemic and refreshingly upbeat mid-album gem The Light, impress with their unabashed theatricality and strong vocal turns from David Draiman.”
But to fully appreciate Draiman’s “strong vocal turns” and the cover’s enjoyable “theatricality,” it’s worth watching the performance itself. There’s something in it for everyone — folk fans and metal fans alike.
What do you think of Disturb’s The Sound of Silence rendition? Are you a Simon and Garfunkel fan? Let us know and make sure to pass this on to all your musical friends and family members.
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