Album Review: Five Finger Death Punch - F8
Artist: Five Finger Death Punch
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review by Darren Hurford
‘F8’ is the latest offering from Vegas heavy metal act Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP) and it’s, well, nothing we haven’t heard before from the band. It is a 16-track homage to guitar solos, “tormented soul” lyrics and stadium sized “OH!”’s being growled through the microphone. I’ve never been to a FFDP show, but I imagine there’d be a lot of skull motifs, wide-eyed, tongue-out guitar solos and a whole lot of fire.* Like so many bands before them in this genre (think Disturbed, Static-X, or any other band that points their finger at the camera in a group shot), it’s hard to know whether there is still a place for car-drivin’, “I’ve been down and out but now I’m angry and will stop at nothing”, beers, boobs and barbeque type music in 2020. But hey, they’ve got a formula and they own it, as well as their multiple gold and platinum selling records.
The album starts out in typical fashion. A sombre cello slowly eeking out some sadness, a small harmonic choir building said sadness, then a marching band style snare drum gently cutting through what is now not so sad but a steadily building crescendo that could arguably fit in the next James Bond trailer. Sure enough, strings, snare and choir get louder, as does the guitar that subtly matches the strings. Ultimately the inevitable surge of metal drumming and double-kick incorporated fills bust in, alongside some distortion on the guitars…. and BAM! Here we are again in familiar FFDP territory!
Lyrically this album is pretty cliché. No doubt bands will write about what is personal to them, recounting lived experiences and drawing inspiration from their lives and world. But I found myself genuinely puzzled by some that just straight up didn’t make sense. A snapshot of my favourites comprise of; “You give your point of view on everything I’ve ever been, you choose to die a martyr while I choose to live in sin” (Death Punch Therapy), “You’ve gotta get dirty to ever get clean, I’m a bonafide pirate, best of the worst, kickin’ and screamin’, scorch the fucken earth” (Making Monsters), and at one point during Mother May I (Tic Toc), vocalist Ivan Moody even recited the “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change” prayer in low, gravelly tones, punctuating every hard consonant sound, just so you know that they’re really, truly, seriously serious.
There are elements of all your favourite metal-past-times in ‘F8’. A Little Bit Off has “we can do sad songs too” vibes reminiscent of Limp Bizkit’s cover of Behind Blue Eyes, whilst Scar Tissue is your standard “drivin’ down the highway” song. Mother May I (Tic Toc) sounds like a Texan version of some “Bros” on their knees praying which, if it had a video clip would undoubtedly be of someone in a church holding rosary beads, most likely dropping them slowly as a tragedy occurs. Then not surprisingly the last track, the artist’s namesake-inspired Death Punch Therapy, is an aggressive full stop at the end of the album, where we are told that Moody is “taking back control (with [my] knuckles)”. Not fists……specifically knuckles. One stand-out track though was This Is War. Fans of Divine Heresy would enjoy the first 18 seconds of this, with blasting double-kick and guitar rhythms smashed together for some chunk, then flowing straight into sweeping arpeggios (for the music nerds out there). But true to form FFDP finish the song with a “war cry” like, “FUCK IT ALL FUCK IT ALL FUCK IT ALL FUCK IT ALL FUUUUUUUCK!”
To be honest, nothing is missing from this album. It is a FFDP album through and through. Fans of the band will feel right at home with their familiar brand of grown-man angst metal and the usual riddles-for-song-titles like Brighter Side of Grey (because grey isn’t bright) or Bottom of the top (‘coz it’s still the bottom). If this is your first introduction to the group, then I would argue you could pop their YouTube page on the TV and have it on in the background while you cook some ribs. The experience would probably be better. Because ribs……!
Best Part – Knowing that the band donated proceeds from their previous single “Blue On Black” to the Gary Sinise Foundation for wounded US Veterans.
Worst Part – Knowing that after these 16 tracks of predictability, the band will probably add ‘F8’ to their already impressive list of gold and platinum albums.
*Writer’s note: After watching a whole lot of live and official video clips, my assumptions were correct. Skulls, fire and fire-breathing skulls!