May 31, 2018 Five Finger Death Punch – And Justice for None (Album Review)
Grunge was the badass offspring of Alternative Rock that took shape in the advent of the 1990s. Soon after, the slick swagger of Britpop took over, at least in a commercial perspective; but Grunge, like any other well-established genre, remained as potent as ever. Many of the bands associated with it soldiered on; and significantly, the music of newer bands that had adopted the style simply evolved into something that is either more Pop-oriented like in the case of bands like 3 Doors Down (“Kryptonite”), Creed (“With Arms Wide Open”), Incubus (“Wish You Were Here”), and Lifehouse (“Hanging by a Moment”); or much heavier, groovier, and more confrontational by incorporating elements of Metal. Bands that epitomize this lethal fusion of Grunge, Metal, and also Hip Hop, include Slipknot (“Psychosocial”), Slapshock (“Wake Up”), and Five Finger Death Punch.
Formed in 2005, in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, Five Finger Death Punch—comprised currently by founders Zoltan Bathory (rhythm guitar) and Jeremy Spencer (drums), Ivan Moody (lead vocals, piano), Jason Hook (lead guitar, backing vocals), as well as Chris Kael (bass, backing vocals)—have seven studio albums in their arsenal—from the relentless kicks and punches of 2007’s The Way of the Fist; the groove-heavy styling of 2011’s American Capitalist; the subdued and introspective angst of 2015’s Got Your Six, which had dead-ringing growls and echoes of Metallica (“Enter Sandman”) and Pantera (“Cowboys from Hell”); and to the melodic and stylistically diverse predisposition of this year’s And Justice for None.
Released on March 18, 2018, on Prospect Park, Five Finger Death Punch’s seventh offering opens with the nerve-wracking aggression of “Fake” and “Top of the World,” pounding and hammering their way in succession into the listener’s yearning eardrums.
A different kind of beast, the ominous “Sham Pain” is contemporary Nu Metal at its finest; whereas the cover of “Blue on Black,” a song by the Blues Singer-Songwriter/Guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is a further change of ridge and pace—something slow and soulful; certainly countryside bluesy and glammy; yet still thick, loud, and sinister.
Five Finger Death Punch then revert to their trademark Groove Metal as “Fire in the Hole” plays next in intense, blast-beat, metronomic manner. Treating the listener to a taste of Power balladry – Moody, Bathory, Spencer, Hook, and Kael then turn romantic and sentimental with the piano-led and slightly orchestrated “I Refuse.” Then the energy explodes once again with the grate and crunch of “It Doesn’t Matter.”
The anthemic “When the Seasons Change” and “Stuck in My Ways” are both a delectable mix of Post-Grunge and Glam Metal, reminiscent of Soundgarden (“Black Hole Sun”), Theory of a Deadman (“Santa Monica”), Nickelback (“How You Remind Me”), Puddle of Mudd (“Blurry”), and Godsmack (“I Stand Alone”).
After that slew of mid-tempo tracks, the punchy Death squad then shift the gear to maximum overdrive with the neck-breaking, double-bass-kick adrenaline boost of “Rock Bottom,” only to relax again with the dark and sparse sway of their impassioned and inspired rendition of “Gone Away,” a song by the Alternative Punk band The Offspring. Then, after the big-sounding industrial noise, yet iron grace of the penultimate track, “Bloody,” Five Finger Death Punch finally wrap up their latest power-charged album with an apt closer – the slow yet pulsating and grating assault and blow of “Will The Sun Ever Rise?,” exuding faint glimmer of Linkin Park’s “In the End” – a chilling, either intentional or subliminal, homage to the band’s recently departed frontman.
In their 13-year productive career, Five Finger Death Punch have shown both the unflinching affinity with their chosen basic sonic style and the openness and confidence to use a wide palette of Rock sounds available at their disposal. And Justice for None is a brash and proud display of the refusal to remain in that proverbial musical box. That continues to work well to their advantage, making their music more mature and expansive and their fanbase more diverse and inclusive. CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.