Dan Donegan Breaks Down Disturbed's New Album 'Divisive' Track by Track | Revolver

Dan Donegan Breaks Down Disturbed's New Album 'Divisive' Track by Track

Guitarist tells personal stories behind every song on band's eighth LP
disturbed press 2022 1600x900, Travis Shinn
Disturbed, Dan Donegan far right
photograph by Travis Shinn

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Disturbed's new LP, Divisive (out Friday, November 18th), is a big occasion for the heavy-metal institution. It's their eighth full-length overall and their first since 2018's Evolution, marking the second-longest gap between albums in all of Disturbed's 20-year-plus career.

To celebrate its release, founding guitarist Dan Donegan gave us a track-by-track breakdown of all 10 songs on Divisive. From opening up about the lyrical topics and inspirations, to revealing inside information about how the tracks came together in the studio, read Donegan's stories about every song below.

1. "Hey You"

In fall 2021, we did a handful of shows and had a day off in Fort Myers, Florida. We popped in to work with our friend Dave Fortman, who produced a lot of big albums with Evanescence, Slipknot and Godsmack. I said, "Let's find a cool groove … and let me improvise." Almost instantly the riff came out ... I started looping it, we locked in the drums and David [Draiman] started scatting over a melody. "Hey you" was a natural reaction, the first two words that popped out of his mouth, and it felt like a big hit hook.

2. "Bad Man"

Another improvised moment. When we [went] to Nashville to record, I was so inspired being back in the room with a new producer Drew Fulk. I said, "Throw a beat at me that's aggressive and straightforward, just driving." I wrote the riff and we ran with it. It's so syncopated and David [started] scatting the melody and those two words came out: "Bad man," which were a bit inspired about world events that were happening and on his mind.

3. "Divisive"

"Divisive" [focuses] mainly on those in power that pit us against one another and the division that it creates. We've gone down this social-media rabbit hole of hatred and attacking — it's become a kind of addiction for people. [This] is us having a wake-up call and trying to find common ground. Rock shows and music do it for us; it's therapeutic. It makes you forget about those differences and realize that we have a lot more in common that than we give ourselves credit for.

4. "Unstoppable"

The riff is just straight-up in-your-face and the tempo makes you feel like putting your foot on the gas pedal and flying down the highway. Every album we want a big fight-song anthem. And that's what "Unstoppable" is for this album. It gives you that powerful feeling, like a bit invincible and unstoppable. We always like to try to have those uplifting, encouraging songs.

​​​​​​​5. "Love to Hate"

"Love to Hate" continues the theme of division. We just love to hate and attack each other. There's so many of us guilty of that. But … we try to spin things in a positive way, too. This is supposed to be the United States and obviously we don't feel so united these past few years. But instead of complaining about it, [let's] try to step back and recognize we're better than this.

6. "Feeding the Fire"

With streaming, a lot of people are going to Spotify and not listening to an album like we did when we were kids: putting it on first song to the last. But for those fans that do still listen [in] sequenced order, "Feeding the Fire" feels like a good bridge going from the more in-your-face "Unstoppable" and "Love to Hate." It's still a heavy riff but a little bit more vibe, which [leads] into "Don't Tell Me," the power ballad that follows.

7. "Don't Tell Me" Feat. Ann Wilson

A few years back [Heart singer] Ann Wilson tweeted about being inspired by Disturbed's "The Sound of Silence." … I'm like, Oh my gosh, she knows who we are! David and Ann had spoken through social media… and he reached out. She responded that she would love to sing this duet. I remember sitting in the control room watching her and David work out the harmonies, like, "Wow." I felt like a little kid. It was such a cool moment to have a legend like her be part of this.

8. "Take Back Your Life"

Being from Chicago, we were big fans of Ministry and that Nineties industrial scene. Early in our career I was experimenting [with] a sequencer, trying stuff … that ended up in songs like "Stupify" and "The Game" off The Sickness. That was a big reason why this time I sought out Drew Fulk, because I really liked what he was doing electronically and bringing that modern vibe to our signature guitar riffs, syncopated drums and animalistic David. It was cool to have him lend ideas to some electronic elements, like the beginning of "Take Back Your Life."

9. "Part of Me"

I had that opening riff when we were in Fort Myers with Dave Fortman, and I was sitting on that for a while. That main riff is simple and driving, but still has kind of an industrial vibe. I remember writing that bridge portion: I knew I wanted that longer extended buildup into the final chorus. That was all improvised in the moment.

10. "Won't Back Down"

We wrote this in a tiny bedroom at Dave Fortman's condo. We were all crammed in there. Mike [Wengren], our drummer, was playing a little electronic drum kit. I grabbed a guitar [off] the wall and David was scatting melodies. It felt like old-school days of buddies getting together and improvising. It's another fight song that's melodic at times and has those live [sing-along ready] moments with those chants. This track just felt like a good way to end the album