There has definitely been an ideological shift in the metal world since the 1980s, the time when thrash bands in particular railed against corrupt politicians, the threat of nuclear war, and social inequities. Along with a shift to the right politically, a key quandary in our post-9/11 world is that who the oppressors are varies dependent upon on one's political beliefs. Conservatives feel oppressed by liberals and vice versa.
"And to others, it would simply be being oppressed no matter where your voice may sit, depending on where the divide begins," offers Draiman. "Oppressed is one of the terms that's very, very sell-able and easily thrown around these days because everybody feels it, no matter what side you're on. We thrive on it. We're addicted to it. What would we do without being oppressed these days? We'd be bored to death. You're oppressing me somehow. I especially can't report about it on social media anymore." (Draiman quit Twitter in 2015.)
The singer feels that social media has become a poison from which no good resolution can stem. "You go in with the best of intentions, you want to maintain a real connection, and we do," he remarks of his band's online presence. "We do in our own way with our public sites, and we still try and be as personal with our base possibly can and show as much of ourselves as we possibly can. If you give a finger, they want the whole hand sometimes. It's not an easy thing. There's really no good thing that is going to come from it in the end, other than you getting burned and being exposed to a whole bunch of cesspool horror that you don't ever want to witness in your lifetime. For what? That's what these things have become."
Along those lines, the song "In Another Time" bemoans the virtual world that much of the population has gotten sucked into at the expense of real life interaction. The song "Savior Of Nothing" – "Social Justice Warriors of the world, unite," quips Draiman – is actually critical of people on both sides of that issue. "That's my big thing on this record, and in general – making sure that the knife cuts both ways," he says.
On the flip side, the ballad "Hold On To Memories," while tackling a familiar sentiment, features a vocal performance we would not have gotten from a twentysomething David Draiman. It's one of his favorites from Evolution. "I wouldn't have had the balls to do this back then, to be honest," he admits. "I haven't allowed myself to go there vocally all these years. A lot of this was experimenting, and that experimentation in and of itself was incredibly fulfilling. This is stuff I haven't done since I was a teenager, for God's sake. It was a trip."
While "Hold On To Memories" was created early in the writing process, it was not until near the end of creating the album that they solidified it, particularly Donegan's acoustic guitar solo. Draiman says he encouraged it and praises it as one of his bandmate's best solos. "He's really outdone himself," says the singer.
Another piece of Evolution's sonic puzzle is the return of bassist John Moyer to the studio for the first time in eight years. Draiman says that while Moyer was not involved in the writing process, he is so professional that he was able to record his parts in two or three days. "John's an amazing musician and that's why he was able to do it that quick, don't let me kid you here," adds Draiman. "We wanted to hit the tonality of his tracking because with his pick playing there's a percussive nature to the attack that's really welcome tonally speaking. And specifically having the way that he plays is tremendous and was a big addition."