Five Flavour Fruit Punch, Five Finger Butt Plug, Nickleback For Juggalos; call them what you want, but I am an absolute mark for Las Vegas’ biggest Metal band, Five Finger Death Punch, and their Melodic chorus/Pantera-verses/Blunt-ignorance formula. It just always hits the spot somehow.
That being said; two out of their last three albums have been weaker than their usual standard, and a lot of high profile intoxication, protracted label legal issues, loss of a key member and an on-stage meltdown plastered all over the media have somewhat tainted the band’s rising-star vibe.
Its nice to say however; that their latest album, their eighth studio album, 2020’s F8 (Fate), sees the band clear-headed, sober and once again delivering the goods. You can hear singer Ivan Moody venting all that aforementioned baggage on the excellent tune “Bottom Of The Top” which is one of the highlights musically and lyrically. The quality of song-writing here is a lot stronger than their …And Justice For None record, and the performance is a little less robotic. That album had the air of disharmony about it, whereas F8 sounds like a band really gelling and coming together. For those who like the band at their faster and heavier, “This Is War” & “Scar Tissue” are the standout moments. If you prefer the band doing ballads and poppier moments, it’s the acoustic with electro-drums “A Little Bit Off” that you need to check out.
This is their first album without their key drummer Jeremy Spencer, who was such a big part of their sound, its hard to imagine the band without him. (I recently read his autobiography, and it’s a bit of a depressing tale of addiction, infidelity and recurrent erectile dysfunction that gives a good insight into the inter-band relationships, but definitely signposted that he wasn’t going to stay in the band forever!). Charlie Engen takes the drum throne this time around, and is a capable replacement, but maybe lacking a bit in personality on this particular record. I think much like Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg, it will take until the next album until we really see his potential. I don’t reckon you’d want to make too many waves on your first appearance.
I saw the band live just before this album was released, and it was absolutely glorious. I had been following them since their sophomore record had just been out and they were only starting to get noticed, and have been a day one purchaser on most of their albums to date, and it was amazing to see them not only playing arenas, but utterly captivating them. They dropped some new material from this record and it fit in perfectly with a hits-laden set. ‘Inside Out’ in particular feels like it will stay in their live set from now until retirement.
Its not hard to imagine that in the future, F8 will be looked back upon as one of the band’s better albums. Its not a Dr. Feelgood style new beginning, but it is a focusing and strengthening of the existing formula with simply better songs. (Does that mean its their Razor’s Edge? I don’t know…)