Five Finger Death Punch are back with their 8th studio album called F8 but apparently pronounced Fate. F8 was released on the 28th of February via Better Noise Music.
It has been a tumultuous few years for the guys in Five Finger Death Punch although it seems we are always saying that. Their seventh studio album, And Justice for None, came out in May, 2018 amidst a legal battle with their previous record label, Prospect Park. At the same time, frontman Ivan Moody was struggling with his own personal demons. This led to him being sacked from the band, quitting the band, not being sacked from the band and not quitting the band. He didn’t turn up for a gig until well into it, then stormed off stage before it ended. Things were rough and the band looked on the brink. Fast forward a year and a bit and so much seems to have changed.
Negative press seems to have tailed off. Moody seems to have cleaned himself up and the band seem to have grown and matured dramatically culminating in a really strong new release in F8.
Five Finger Death Punch are Zoltan Bathory on rhythm guitar, Ivan Moody on lead vocals, Jason Hook on lead guitar and backing vocals, Chris Kael on bass and backing vocals and Charlie Engen on drums.
F8 starts with a symphonic intro with building drums over a really nice violin chorus. It transitions really nicely into Inside Out which keeps the background violins running up its spine. A typically punchy riff leads us through the verses with frontman Ivan Moody sounding particularly venomous. The choruses are clean and catchy enough with the second one leading into a melodic section with clean vocals and clean backing before dropping into a speedy, squealing solo. It’s a very strong start to the album.
Full Circle goes full Nu Metal in is though with its chunky stuttering riff, clean chorus and backing growls. I’m not so keen on this one. It gets a bit repetitive though I like the lyrics, that basically take a look at how we are deceived by mass media, and ourselves. Living the Dream is the lead single and comes with a more radio friendly edge. It’s catchy enough though with a good riff and lots of transitioning between different pitches and tones.
A Little Bit Off is a mostly acoustic ballad and is nice enough to listen to until the last line of each verse where they felt the need to slap an unnecessary effect on the vocals. The drums sound pretty cool once they jump in though. It’s not bad just didn’t need the effect. Less is more sometimes. We pick the pace back up for the next track, Bottom of the Top. I really like this one. The riff is huge and the drums hammer out the heaviest rhythm on the album so far. The vocals drip anger and frustration too in a song that sounds full of heart and power. Moody roaring “are you not entertained” seems like a direct call out to everyone judging him. It’s good metal.
To Be Alone brings back a cleaner edge. It is also the band at their catchiest. I really love the way the vocals flow in the verse with the faded melodic line in the background. The chorus is really good and there is another belter of a solo. The next track is called Mother May I (Tic Toc) and horrified by bringing back memories of Metallica’s Frantic with its intro using the lyrics “Tic Toc , Time Is Up”. Can we just have a blanket ban on metal bands saying Tic Toc please? It brings back terrible memories of Metallica’s Frantic.
I don’t really get this song anyway. It seems very disjointed. Many little ideas that just don’t join together to form a great single one. It has moments. Some heavy growled vocals. A good solo and even a decent chorus but just doesn’t really flow too well. Darkness Settles In brings us back to the acoustic ballad style and reintroduces the strings for the intro. It’s a great sound. You gotta love guitars and violins mixed. That aside, it’s a decent heartfelt song with an uplifting chorus.
As seems to be their style, that ballad is followed up by one of the heavier songs on the album in This is War. This is a proper good metal song. Catchy riffs bounce through you along with a thumping drum rhythm. The vocals are great too, packed full of intensity and snarl. I could mosh to this one. Leave it All Behind comes next and stands out for being a little different. I love the rhythm in the verses and the use of deep vocals that hit near spoken word. The chorus is strong but I really enjoy the riffs in this one. There is a little instrumental section after the second chorus that is brilliant. Weirdly for me I’m not so keen on the solo that closes this one though.
So we approach the end of F8 starting with the penultimate track, Scar Tissue. As the name suggests we get back up to pace and heaviness again. It’s a decent song. The verses rip passed in a hail of guitars and drums with a really prominent bass line. There is a nice growled prechorus though the chorus isn’t quite as catchy as some that came before. So we reach the end with another ballad type in Brighter Side of Grey. Brighter Side of Grey brings us a really deep, passionate and melodic track. A nice chugging riff and punchy drum beat mixes sweetly with a clean acoustic melody and gentle vocals. It’s a really nice song with a positive vibe which I really can appreciate. Chuck in a strong chorus and passionate solo and you have all the components of a fan favourite.
Truth be told I’m not a big fan of Five Finger Death Punch. I never really bought into this whole “bro” metal thing. I also found it difficult to get behind a band fronted by a man who occasionally acts like a dick. Happily though, I can admit that F8 is good. Really good actually. Perhaps through maturity or sobriety, Five Finger Death Punch seem a little different. A little more serious, a little more genuine. There is a lot to like on F8. Good tracks come in different forms from Moody bearing all on some powerful and emotive ballads to the band letting out a deluge of anger on some of the heavier ones.
There are still areas of concern for my personal tastes. Some disjointed tracks, some of the unnecessary studio effects added to vocals and the occasional feeling of repetition either in the way a chorus or line is overused in a song like Full Circle or the similar sounding riffs in the heavier songs. Mostly though, F8 is a strong album with interesting songs, great choruses and solos and passionate lyrics from a band that seem to be improving more and more with age.
F8 is out now on all the usual streaming platforms or grab yourself a copy from the band, here.
Five Finger Death Punch Links
F8 by Five Finger Death Punch (Better Noise Music)
The Final Score - 7.5/10