I always forget I’m a Five Finger Death Punch fan. They’re not tripping off my tongue on the list of bands I listen to nor are their albums on regular rotation. That being said, whenever they put in an appearance on tour or at a festival that I’m at, you can bet I’m there. Same with their albums. You can be sure I’ll be getting the latest but it’s not consumed heavily.
And Justice For None, its name and cover art, is an obvious snipe at the current state of the world. And since we’re here, yes, unlike another metal album with a similar name, you can actually hear the bass. Personally, I felt Got Your Six was a bit weak and, due to when it was released, was buried by other, better albums. Here, their seventh album has room to breathe and despite still being under contract with the old label (you can investigate their label issues in your own time), there’s definitely not a sense of “Fuck it, it’ll do” like its predecessor.
Here, the newest album reminds me of their earlier works like War is the Answer and American Capitalist. Right from the start, it’s a declaration of the band meaning business. It’s the quality you’d expect from a band at this point in their career as they climb up festival posters. This is the album which justifies them staying at those lofty heights, if not pushing them even further. It’s this sort of quality which justifies their UK arena tour last year. They knew they had something special in store.
Opener “Fake” is straight down the middle Five Finger Death Punch. It’s exactly what you’d expect from them with as massive riff from Jason Hook playing off Zoltan Bathory whilst Ivan Moody ensures the listener he’s got enough anger, much akin to “Lift Me Up”. The band refuses to let go with “Top of the World” and then comes “Sham Pain”. Five Finger have created a song you can properly dance to – not mosh – dance. It’s catchy and easily the best song on the album and when combined with the lyrics, is everything Five Finger Death Punch are about. It’s obvious this is about Moody’s struggles last year whilst taking aim at the band’s detractors as well. He references how he and the band have found success but it doesn’t equate to happiness and sets out to highlight the side of music you don’t see and the toll it can take.
Second Opinion (Mosh) Long story short – this is 5FDP-by-number. However, when those numbers add up to another barnstormer of an album there’s little room for complaint. This isn’t an album that’s going to bring in new fans, or convert those who’ve decided they don’t like the band for some reason. It is, however, one which will please the existing fanbase.
“Fake” is just a great opener, “I Refuse” is a brilliant addition to the band’s acoustic/softer repertoire, their cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue On Black” is handled with respect… There’s very little, if anything, to criticise And Justice For None for other than perhaps not taking a risk by breaking into new territory. But then, what 5FDP are doing is working very well for them. If it ain’t broke…
Elsewhere, the band delve into tamer, more acoustic endeavours like the cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black”, twisting it into their own beast. They double down on it, going even further into the corner with “When the Seasons Change” and prove they’re more than capable of providing more than just straight-forward metal and aggression.
However, if that’s what you’re after “Fire in the Hole” and “It Doesn’t Matter” will serve you well with their chugging riffs and drums that will ensure you’re headbanging. Meanwhile, “Stuck in My Ways” finds the middle ground, full of light and shade, it’s probably one of the tamer tracks but it’s still got enough grunt to shout the chorus back to the band. While the band have experimented at moments, for the large part, they’ve just served up another Five Finger Death Punch album. If you didn’t like them before, this won’t change your mind. This is just much tighter and more attention given to it and it’s served them well. Delightfully heavy whilst paying attention to their melodic elements, this is peak Five Finger Death Punch.
And Justice For None isn’t Five Finger Death Punch evolving their sound. It’s not an album which refines it. Instead, they’ve gone all-in on this one to make one of their best albums to date. There’s songs here built for audiences of thousands to chant to and songs which will stay in their repertoire for years to come.
And Justice For None is released on 18th May