Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review; Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 1 (Deluxe Edition)

Track Listing;

1. Lift Me Up (Ft. Rob Halford)
2. Watch You Bleed
3. You
4. Wrong Side Of Heaven
5. Burn MF
6. I.M.Sin
7. Anywhere But Here (Feat. Maria Brink)
8. Dot Your Eyes
9. M.I.N.E. (End This Way)
10. Mama Said Knock You Out (Feat. Tech N9ne
11. Diary Of A Deadman
12. I.M.Sin (Feat. Max Cavalera)
13. Dot Your Eyes (Feat. Jamey Jasta)
14. Anywhere But Here (Duet with Maria Brink)

Five Finger Death Punch are another of many modern metal bands that divide opinion almost completely among metalheads. Add onto that factor the idea of a double album, which is always a risky move, and this band is not going out of its way to make friends. At eight years into their career, maybe it was time to take a chance, but it's a good thing they're starting off with a little help from their friends on part one of The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell.

As far as album openers go, they don't come much better than the one heard here. Are FFDP a technical band; no. Are they progressive or experimental; no chance. What they are is a bare-bones, no-frills modern American Metal band that writes some cracking tunes. 'Lift Me Up' is one of the best they've written in their career, and with a great vocal appearance from Rob 'More-Metal-Than-A-Lead-Bullet-Belt' Halford of Judas Priest, the album hits the ground running. It's a catchy tune that you'll listen to and sing along to again, and again...and again! (You get the point!)

'Watch You Bleed' starts softly, but it doesn't last before the steam-train rhythms and riffs fly in. On this album it's already apparent that singer Ivan Moody is on fine vocal form, showing off the higher part of his singing range. Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook are as functional a guitar duo as ever and Jeremy Spencer's drumming, while sometimes simplistic compared to other metal drumming, works in the context of Five Finger Death Punch. This isn't music for serious musicians, it's music for people that want to have a good time beating their chests and stomping around the pit. Some could call it stupid if they so wished but they'd be missing something, in my opinion. The ballads may seem a tad generic, such as 'Wrong Side of Heaven', but while the song writing involved isn't by any means breakthrough, there's something in Ivan's voice that sells it.

'Burn MF' could be accused of being a lazily written song. It reeks a little of Dope's 'Die Motherfucker Die' at the chorus. However, it's a good, fun tune with a good riff and some pummelling drums. The rhythmic quality in the verse's vocals shows Ivan Moody's background from much-forgotten Nu-Metal group Motograter. It's catchy, but while fans will still like it, it could be too derivative.

'I.M.Sin' is another rager, with the familiar feeling of 'fuck you' that litters much of their back catalogue. There are two versions of this song on the album; one just with the band, and the other featuring Soulfly legend Max Cavalera. Who sings his parts in Portuguese, adding a different flavour to the mix. Hearing Max's voice is always a pleasure, and as such the version without his contribution is inferior. 'Dot Your Eyes' is another song where this is the case, but instead features Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed on the second version. It's also my favourite song on the album.

'Anywhere But Here' is another ballad, another song that there's two of on the album. Both feature In This Moment frontwoman Maria Brink, but the second version is a full duet version, rather than the first in which her voice makes a scarce appearance. On paper, this collaboration looks odd, but on record both voices accompany each other well. Lyrically it's a more emotional side to FFDP that might seem out of place, but at least it shows another side to the band that some might find unexpected.

'M.I.N.E (End This Way)' is a low point on the album for me. A heartbreak ballad that has no chance of equalling the band's breakthrough single 'The Bleeding' and while I'm all up for a band putting a bit of emotion into their music, this song just doesn't do it for me.

Major talking point on the album alert; 'Mama Said Knock You Out'. An LL Cool J cover seems the least likely thing to work on a modern metal album. No doubt it'll make many people spit bullets in disgust, but here's the kicker - it's great! With another guest appearance from American rapper Tech N9ne, this tune combines the fist-to-the-face assault of bullish modern metal a la Pantera or Hellyeah with the rap swagger that the song calls for. I'm speaking as someone who's not a big fan of rap, but I really enjoyed this song, which would be a beast to hear in any metal club.

'Diary Of A Deadman' is a strange way for the band to end the first half of the double album; it's an odd song for this band; With it's very introspective spoken-word lyrics that almost sound like Ivan's written his own eulogy. It's unsettling in a way, with how transparent and honest the lyrics are. The album closes after this very soulful tune. I find it hard to reckon what most people would make of it as a whole song, though the guitar solo heard on it is a great one.

It looked like Five Finger Death Punch had made a rash decision when they announced this double album, but as far as the first half of the album is concerned, it's solid. There's the odd dip in the song writing, and it's not exactly original stuff, but for those wanting their Death Punch fix that maybe felt a little let down by 2011's love/hate album 'American Capitalist', this album will more than suffice. I, for one, felt that 'American Capitalist' was a real let-down, with the odd solid song that couldn't save it, but now the love I had for this band after 'War Is The Answer' is peaked again.

In terms of accessible, fun metal music, its one of the best releases of the year, and will no doubt count as another step on the band's path towards arena headlining glory. Whether you like it or not, this band will get bigger yet, and detractors wont really make a difference to that.

Rating: 8/10

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