Saturday, 17 August 2013

Five Finger Death Punch "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell: Volume 1

If the name Five Finger Death Punch sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’ve become one of the biggest names in modern metal over the past five or so years. Coming in to the metal world with their 2007 debut album The Way Of The Fist, the band caught some attention with their song The Bleeding. It didn’t take long before they released their second album, War Is The Answer, which rocketed to number 7 on Billboard. When their third album American Capitalist went to number 3, it was clear that they had established themselves with a true fan base.

While I am a fan, I don’t quite know what it is that makes them appealing over other current metal bands. They somewhat have the spirit of classic metal bands such as Judas Priest, while sounding as modern as possible with lead singer Ivan Moody’s distinctive growl. I never found their music to be the most original, though I seem to stand alone with that opinion. I’ve found them to be somewhat inconsistent with their albums.

The Way Of The Fist was a very different piece of work. When I first heard it I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It had anger, a lot of anger, but the melodies that were blended in were terrific. War Is The Answer, the first album to feature (my fellow) Toronto native Jason Hook on guitar, just seemed boring at times. I get that Ivan is an angry fellow, but it was getting too obvious that the songs were a means of him to get out his frustration and nothing more. With such lyrics as “do you take me for a fool/how’s it feel to be a tool” from the album’s title track, it goes to show how bland the album got. The band redeemed themselves with American Capitalist, arguably the best of the three albums. While it still had its share of cheesy anger, it showed improved guitar riffs and brought back some of the melodic elements that made the debut album so special.

It was announced at the beginning of the year that the awaited fourth album by the band would be released in two parts. The first of these two parts, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Volume 1, was released this past July. I find the result to be somewhere in between War Is the Answer and American Capitalist. It is better than the former, but not as good as the latter.

The album starts off with the first song that the band revealed on May 2nd at the Revolver Golden Gods awards. Lift Me Up features Ivan maintaining his more clean vocals throughout the song and is a promising way to start off the album. Did I mention that it features none other than the Metal God himself, Rob Halford on guest vocals?

Watch You Bleed continues to show promise for the album. Ivan’s voice sounds just as intense as it can be without resorting to his growl, which is something I always wish he and other metal vocalists would do more. The only other really comparable song on the album would be the track Anywhere But Here, which features a small guest vocal from In This Moment’s Maria Brink. Later on the album is a second version of the song which features more of Maria on vocals, which I find better than the first version.

The first song to really feature the growling guttural vocals of Ivan Moody is the angry fast talking song You. This song brings back criteria heard way back on their debut, with well thought out guttural vocals as well as terrific harmonies. I.M.Sin is another track with strong usage of guttural growls and with a tremendously perfect melody in the songs chorus, and as a bonus, a second version of the song is featured toward the end of the album featuring thrash/groove veteran Max Cavalera as a guest vocalist.

The band has always been beyond exceptional at writing metal ballads. Going right back to The Bleeding from their debut album to Remember Everything from the Capitalist album. This trend is followed on this album with The Wrong Side of Heaven. I don’t quite regard this to be as good as the two previously mentioned tracks, but that doesn’t take away from this being a definite song to spotlight from the album. The albums second heavy ballad, M.I.N.E (End This Way) has much stronger passion to it and a lot more feeling than the title track, more similar to a song like Remember Everything. It may even be better, but that’s just my opinion.

As expected, the album does have the angrier than thou songs that concentrate less on the music and more on the aggression. Burn MF and Dot Your Eyes are both good angry songs, a little too simple, but by now fans of the band should expect this from them. The latter of the two songs also has a second version heard later on the album featuring Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta.

If you see the track list, and noticed the track Mama Said Knock You Out, yes that is an LL Cool J cover. I do applaud how they turn the song in to a bona fide metal song, and replace the rapping with screams. What I don’t like about the song is the inclusion of Tech N9ne rapping the second verse of the song. It just doesn’t fit. The album could have done without the song in general, but since they decided to include it, I suppose it wasn’t a completely awful choice.

The album ends with the dramatic Diary of a Deadman. When I say dramatic, I mean arrangements and breakdowns that are pretty much unheard of in any previous Five Finger Death Punch song. The verses are spoken rather than sung, where I’d have preferred them to be sung, but the music heard throughout the song makes up for it, being what I believe to be the best musically written piece the band has ever recorded. It does successfully leave me anxious to hear what the second volume of this two album series will sound like.

I would still have to say American Capitalist is the bands best album, but after listening to this album more and more, I don’t think the best is behind them. The album keeps the band as a credible name to be mentioned when listing the top current metal acts and does show some (unfortunately only some) maturing in song writing. Listening to the album from beginning to end, it is hard to get bored. Listening to some of the individual tracks however can be somewhat boring and bland, but thankfully the number of these tracks is less so than on the War Is The Answer album.


Watch You Bleed” –­ The reason I believe this to be a good highlight for the album is because it shows how intense the band still is. Despite the song being predominantly a clean vocal track, it has enough growls to please those who still find screaming/growling to be relevant in music. Musically it is amongst the top tracks the band has ever recorded, with noticeable guitar riffs that don’t get drowned out by any sort of generic drum beat.



8.5 (Out of 10)


Track List:

Lift Me Up (feat. Rob Halford)
Watch You Bleed  
Wrong Side of Heaven 
Burn MF  
Anywhere But Here (feat. Maria Brink)
Dot Your Eyes
M.I.N.E (End This Way)  
Mama Said Knock You Out (feat. Tech N9ne)
Diary of a Deadman
I.M.Sin (feat. Max Cavalera)
Anywhere But Here (Duet with Maria Brink)
Dot Your Eyes (feat. Jamey Jasta)

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