2013’s The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 1 is the fourth full-length studio album by the American Metal band Five Finger Death Punch; It was produced by Kevin Churko (who produced and played bass on their third album, American Capitalist) and as its name implies is one part of a two album set, with part two set to be released separately afterwards.
Five Finger Death Punch aren’t a band for elitists, they aren’t a band for snobs. If you’ve ever insulted a band for being ‘posers’ or ‘mallcore’ or criticized a band for its image rather than its music then they are definitely something you should avoid.
What they specialize in is simple, memorable and catchy Metal that is entertaining and enjoyable. They walk a fine line between being too heavy for the radio and yet too light for underground credibility. Equally some of their song titles, lyrics, stage banter and merchandise isn’t always the most tasteful and artistic in the world but they know what they are doing musically. The band know how to write good songs, filled with crunchy riffs, great solos, vocal parts you can sing along with and melodies that get stuck in your head for days.
The direction of their sound is a sort of clean, crisp and deceptively heavy mixture between Hard Rock, the less Grungey or Industrial sides of Alternative Metal and those occasional commercial radio-Metal singles by heavier bands. Imagine a mixture between Vulgar era Pantera, Vol. 3 era Slipknot and Indestructible era Disturbed and you’ll get a vague ballpark idea of their sound.
All of their albums so far have been in a similar direction, with changes happening slowly and logically between albums, so while their debut was a bit faster and a little more Metalcore influenced than their last album for example, you can always tell within a few seconds that its Five Finger Death Punch you’re listening to. They are distinctive and they have a clear formula. This new album is no different. Its not an exact copy of what’s came before and yet if you’ve heard a Five Finger Death Punch album before, then you’ll know more or less what to expect from this.
Tracks like the opener ‘Lift Me Up,’ the speedy ‘Burn MF’ and the ridiculously catchy ‘You’ cover the same ground that the band have covered before, again, but remarkably well, and ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven’ and ‘M.I.N.E (End This Way)’ provide the softer side of the album that fans will have come to expect by now. With such a successful formula there was no real need to experiment too far away just yet, but the band did a really good job of creating fresh and different sounding material without abandoning their core sound.
That being said, there are a few surprises though, like slightly electronic undertones on ‘Watch You Bleed’ and the ever-so-mildly progressive ‘Anywhere But Here’ & ‘Diary Of A Deadman.’ Its not a million miles away from the band’s usual direction, but it is a change nonetheless. Just like there are vocal patterns and riff types dotted around the record that you haven’t heard the band try before. Small changes, gradually and over time.
Similarly, while Five Finger Death Punch are not strangers to cover songs, (Faith No More, Pantera, Bad Company) this album contains something of a curveball choice, in a cover of LL Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out.’
The album also contains guest appearances from other artists; with Rob Halford of Judas Priest singing on the opener ‘Lift Me Up,’ as well as Maria Brink of In This Moment guesting on ‘Anywhere But Here’ and hip hop artist Tech N9ne guesting on aforementioned unexpected cover song. If you get the bonus tracks you’ll also find Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta singing on another version of album closer ‘Dot Your Eyes,’ and Max Cavelera on an alternative version of ‘I.M Sin’.
Overall; this is a very good record. It mightn’t win over any haters, but as a Five Finger Death Punch album it absolutely hits all the right spots, and still manages to take you on a few unexpected journeys. If you already like the band, it serves up more of what you want (bouncy, infectious songs in the band’s usual style, with choruses you’ll probably sing all summer, solos that will put a smile on your face, and an ear pleasing production) and it serves it all up to a very high standard.
**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**