Going into this review knowing that it’s for Five Finger Death Punch is, in some respects, quite daunting…
A band with no shortage of rabid fans and even more rabid detractors, one must be aware of potential fire storms of internet hatred, with strangers around the world coalescing to question each others sexual orientation.
But let’s put the most disappointing part of the internet to one side. Yes, the wrestling advert music is still very much in effect, but there is more going on beneath the knuckles. This is a strangely bi-polar record, but when listened to closely makes absolute sense.
There are two clear halves – a man in genuine torment with himself, apologetic yet unyielding, acknowledging this trait as the core of his problems, and another man, utterly at war with the world. The pugilistic nature of some of the material presented here is almost sadistic, with ‘You’ and the truly moronic (and unnecessary) ‘Burn Motherfucker’ all but offering the listener out for a fight directly.
Some of the material on here is genuinely good. ‘M.I.N.E. ‘is both earnest and well-judged, played with a discernibly gentler tone than the cro-magnon thuggery displayed elsewhere. Here, Moody’s vocals are given full weight, and his power as a vocalist truly shines through. The over-dramatic vocal inflections posited all over the record cannot detract from the feeling that Moody would enjoy life a lot more making this sort of music over the chugging shreddery, irrespective of how competently it’s played.
The greatest surprise was ‘Diary Of A Deadman’, a spoken word piece with a bit of widescreen scope to it. No ‘fuck this/fuck that’, and with some top licks from Zoltan and Jason, this was very diverting. Confusing, however, was the inclusion of two of the tracks twice – ‘I.M. Sin’ and ‘Dot Your Eyes’– one with Moody alone and the others with guests (Max Cavalera, which was a bit of a shame, and Jamey Jasta). This smacks a little of padding, as there’s little to be got out of this superfluous act. Take the first versions out, and there’s still a solid 40 minutes of this to go round, which is plenty.
Five Finger Death Punch have shown a greater depth of field in their craft than I was expecting. Everything is played with the utmost precision, and though there are times when a great guitar tone is sacrificed to give the vocals room in the chorus, the production is excellent. Getting Rob Halford in on the opening track gives points, and the duet with Maria Brink is convincing. My complaint is only that the contemplative parts of the record outshine the boisterous, with that element feeling almost forced.
Perhaps the Punch are ready to evolve? With their softer moments infinitely tougher and more believable than Nickelback, I hope the next record takes a proper risk, and pushes the songwriting to a different plain, something that’s been so tenderly hinted at here. Moody is a vocalist of some considerable power, and it would be nice to see him and the boys push themselves a bit more. they’ve proven their worth on the heavy front – it’s time to move on.
Potent, but with heart.