It’s easy for a traditional-minded metal fan to snub a band like Five Finger Death Punch. The Los Angeles-based outfit specializes in accessible, melodic rage – the type that bands like Killswitch Engage and Asking Alexandria chase with a palatable dose of mechanized, D-tuned chug. What beer-muscled frat boys of the world have rejoiced in, the devout metal disciple has often soured upon, but those elitists would be missing out by not taking a look at FFDP. What makes them different is the band’s volatile musical chemistry and explosive presentation – arena-ready impact with some of the best percussive, rhythmic offset in contemporary heavy music.
The band’s latest is an exercise in polished metal production, trigger-like drumming, and studio-sweetened guitar ambience – even though the edges have been smoothed for zero chance of danger, the passion and feel more than compensates. Infectious tracks like “Watch You Bleed” are what Slipknot would sound like without the gimmicky thematics: adventurous, soaring catharsis, with impressive soloing to boot. Vocalist Ivan Moody wrenches his gut, proclaiming, “I’d give anything just to cut you free.” Cuts like “Burn MF” are as angry as anything no-nonsense hardcore bands like Pro-Pain have ever recorded, with devastating growls of derangement and wrist-splintering guitar riffs – a masterful mashup of Sevendust’s antagonized melodicism and Chimaira’s harshest take on reality.
This album is also notable for the collaborations. Judas Priest’s Rob Halford lends guest vocals to “Lift Me Up,” a custom-fitting, dark groove metal track in the vein of late-model Judas Priest material. In This Moment’s Maria Brink hints at a more subdued backing vocal on “Anywhere But Here,” an introspectively melancholic view on mankind’s very sense of awareness. Old school metal fans should enjoy the inclusion of ex-Sepultura/Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera on the defiant and thrashy “I.M. Hate” – the song sees Cavalera and Moody at an arm’s length, warning “don’t get any closer, or you’ll see the real me.”
Cold-filtered aggression at its most enjoyable peak of sonic perfection, Five Finger Death Punch deals a thick-skinned knockout blow to the non-believing metal highbrows.
Five Finger Death Punch ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1’ Rating: W W W W
-Mark Uricheck, Weekender Correspondent