FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – AND JUSTICE FOR NONE
Five Finger Death Punch have become a household name in the world of metal music. Formed in 2005, they quickly shot to the top of the modern metal scene. Their latest album: “And Justice for None”, their 7th in a little over 10 years, attempts to re-establish them at the top of the mountain after a couple of years of controversy, mainly involving singer Ivan Moody. Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t argue with their work rate. They make catchy, melodic metal music, and this album is no different.
The expected trademarks are present from the start; beefy guitar riffs, ominous sounding vocals, tight thumping drums. Subtlety is not their strong suit. But why should it be?. “Fake” is a smack in the face with everything that makes Five Finger Death great. It gets your foot stomping and your head banging and it’s a great way to kick off the album.
The album features two cover songs, each one vastly different from the other, but both very good. The first, “Blue on Black”, originally by Kenny Wayne Shephard, is a bluesy, southern rock song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Black Stone Cherry record. It’s catchy, it’s got a great chorus (it’s essentially a pop song), and shows the range of the band. Specifically Ivan Moody, whose voice is utilized in a variety of different styles throughout the album, all of which he pretty much nails. Whether he’s wailing away in songs like “Top of the World”, or showing off his clean voice in power ballads like “I Refuse”. Even his pseudo ‘Rapping’ in “Sham Pain” is impressive. His ability to switch between these styles at a moment’s notice is testament to his skill as a vocalist.
The second cover is of The Offspring’s “Gone Away”. On paper this is a really strange pairing, but it really works. It’s atmospheric, melancholic, and there’s a great guitar solo on display. Again, Moody’s vocals impress.
Much of the lyrics deal with Moody’s hatred of either the rest of the world, or himself. It’s very angsty and at times a little on the nose. “Sham Pain” is literally a rant about the things he doesn’t like, the people who don’t like him and the difficulties of being a success in the music industry. It just felt petty, unnecessary and way too literal. “Fake” uses so many f-bombs you lose count. It’s like when a kid finds out about “bad words” and uses them in every other sentence to sound cool. The lyrics aren’t bad, but I think they’re cheapened by excessive swearing.
The guitar playing on And Justice For None is fantastic. “Top of the World” has chunky, groovy riffs throughout. As does “It Doesn’t Matter”. Similar to Moody’s ability to experiment with different vocal styles, the guitarists also show incredible range. The Acoustic guitar solo on “I refuse” is exceptional. The bluesy solo on “Blue on Black” is also great, but if more traditional shredding is your thing, look no further than “Stuck in my Ways”.
Towards the end of the album, we get a couple of ‘in-between’ songs. They’re not ballads, but they’re not the typical fast metal songs either. They’re not the strongest songs but the breakdown section of “Bloody” is. It’s absolutely dripping with groove and, although it’s brief, it’s one of the highlights of the album for me.
And Justice For None is a very solid offering. The diversity shown on each song is brilliant. Five Finger Death Punch are willing to experiment with a variety of different styles that, in theory, shouldn’t work. But they make it work. They’re able to mix and match genres with a fluidity that is rarely seen, all while maintaining the integrity of the band and what makes the band great. Sure, the lyrics are cheesy, and it may get a little long-winded towards the end. But overall the album does everything it’s supposed to, and much more.
Review by Josh Farrell