“Just got the new album in from 5FDP for review. You want it?”
“Shit, yes! When does it come out?”
“Erm… in about 2 hours – it drops at midnight.”
Yeah, sometimes deadlines are a little tighter than you’d like! But a chance to pound my speakers with one of metal’s more Marmite bands is always something I enjoy. Unlike marmite, however (which is the Devil’s own chocolatey shit), I like Five Finger Death Punch so we’ll see how this pans out. Obviously this is going to be very much a “first impressions” review. Having said that, typical of the five-some’s previous output it hits quick and drops a ton of wriggly earworms down your listening tubes.
As seems to be common with a lot of albums I’ve listened to recently, the first (and in this case, title) track is a simple little intro. Once it’s over, we’re straight into “Inside Out” which is as up front and abrasive as anything the band have released in the last decade. Mixing those angry, growled vocals with the trademark clean ones, Moody is on top form. I know he’s had his issues and the band have managed to get some good live cover for him, but he really is intrinsic to 5FDP’s sound. Of course, he’s ably accompanied by one of metal’s most photogenic bassists in Chris Kael, a man who can pull off a Davy Jones impression like nobody else (the guy from the Pirates films, not the one from the Monkees). As well as “that” beard, he lays down one hell of a bass line which just demands neck motion.
You can listen to this one below (and instantly if you pre-order in the next few minutes), so what about the other tracks? “Full Circle” has also already been released and, if anything, is even better than the previous song. “Living The Dream” (lyric video also available) absolutely pounds and continues the adrenaline rush that kicked in with track 2, but the band throw in the first curveball with the clean intro and acoustic backing on “A Little Bit Off”. There’s more than a hint of overproduction on this song, but it works. If I said it was a bit like some of Papa Roach’s more recent material that might sound like a bit of an insult depending on your opinion of that particular band but give it a listen and see what you think. It’s not exactly a ballad, but it is a lighter song… and of course it’s catchy as all hell. And with one of those “Hey-ey-ey-yeah” choruses it’s destined for the live show.
“Bottom of the Top” throws the anger back in our faces once again, and includes some great drumming from Charlie Engen. I just love the little machine gun fills. Of course, being 5FDP they still go and throw in a melodic break in the middle… before it all comes crashing down on our heads again. Not my favourite track on the album, but as I said at the start this is a quick blast through. Maybe it’ll grow on me.
More toe-tapping rhythms kick off “To Be Alone” and we’re back in familiar territory – and I’m starting to catch my breath enough to listen to the lyrics. As ever, they’re top notch and relatable. I wonder how many of them are written from life experiences. The guitar work on this track is superb and the solo around 2:30 is brilliant. Pure fret-dancing joy. I’ve no idea if it’s Hook or Bathory, but it’s a belter.
As we hit the midway point in this pretty mammoth album, I felt that things dipped a little. I wasn’t too keen on “Mother May I” and “Darkness Settles In” as they’re both more thoughtful tracks which need some more listens to really appreciate (going by my past experience with 5FDP albums). I guess we all need a chance to grab our breath and when “This Is War” launches you know why. Bloody hell. This is about as blistering a song as the band have ever done. Not exactly one to headbang to, or really sing along to, it’s simply a wall of utter metal noise. In a good way.
“Leave It All Behind” sounds nicely familiar, alternating the vocal styles and with some rapped/spoken lyrics chucked in there as we’ve heard before. “Scar Tissue” ramps up the heavy again, yet as ever throws in that mix of rumbling background music with clean vocals. The bass thumps along to the rhythm of the angrier lyrical sections, following the band’s trademark formula and it all just works.
The acoustics come out again for “Brighter Side of Grey” and this time we have something closer to an actual ballad. While there are still some choppy background riffs, this is an absolute heartlifter and the kind of song that people who hate the band will use as evidence that they’re “not metal”. Those people can do one. This is a great track, especially if you listen to the lyrics. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being one of those “odd choice” singles purely as it’s so different from any other track on F8.
The respite from the riffage and battery is short, however. “Making Monsters” thrashes in with one of the best opening salvos on the album. Typically Five Finger, there isn’t another band that could have written it. Fourteen tracks in (thirteen if you discount the brief opener) and they’re still adding foot stompers to the track list. If there’s an issue it could be that it’s a little too recogniseable, but sometimes you just have to throw in a song that fans will run with because it’s just… you.
The final-ish track is “Death Punch Therapy” and it’s as good an album closer as you could hope for. Chugging rhythms, spat-out lyrics… this could well end up being a signature track. It’s got all the familiar elements and leaves you wondering where the last 50 minutes went and can you please go through it all over again? Well, yes you can. Once you’ve listened to the radio edit of “Inside Out” that’s been tagged on as a bonus track (I assume on some releases anyway). What’s odd is that this radio edit has the word “motherfucking” in it, the removal of which I kind of assumed was the point of a radio edit…
F8 is a fine album. A damn fine album. It has the feel of a “best of” release, partly due to 5FDP’s varied output and that it’s very representative of this. Having blasted through it once, I’m not at the point of deciding if it’s their best album yet, partly as I really like some of their older material. Certainly it’s a strong release and one I’m sure will appeal to existing fans. I just need a few more listens and I don’t have the time for that if I’m to get this review out before midnight! Rest assured, though, that I will be listening to it again. And again. And again…
F8 is probably out by the time you read this – grab it on Amazon and help support this site