Thursday, July 26, 2012

Five Finger Death Punch - War is the Answer

Yes, I know that Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP) destroyed their reputation (and career) with their third album, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about, so I won’t even let that album influence my opinion on this album. So before these guys turned into a hard rock band, they released two nu metal records. I first discovered them in 2008 when I was just really getting into metal. I think that I heard them at the right time because I was listening to a lot of nu metal and alternative metal (Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed, Korn, Slipknot, Staind, Taproot, Mudvayne, etc.) around the time that I first heard The Bleeding on the radio (yes, I used to listen to the radio). Even today, I still get chills when I listen to that extremely emotional anger-driven song that contains more power than the entire album. Apparently, The Way of the Fist received very positive reviews from critics worldwide. All that happened after that was opening for Disturbed on some big tour they did and then 5FDP was one of the most talked-about metal bands in both the mainstream and underground metal communities.

Yes, it’s true; I’ve talked to grindcore and diehard death metal fans that say that they have a guilty pleasure for 5FDP’s first two records (as do I). So after I was familiar with The Way of the Fist, I heard somewhere that the band had released a new album (this was sometime during the summer of 2009, I can’t remember exactly when it was). I got ahold of a copy and listened with great excitement. It turns out that 5FDP passed the “sophomore release challenge” by proving to the world that their debut wasn’t just a huge fluke.

Probably the most easily recognizable qualities this album holds are the guitar distortions, and the song structure and influences. The guitar distortion is an extremely gritty sound with almost all of the treble cut out. This unique guitar distortion doesn’t necessarily make the album feel heavier (like albums like Mudvayne’s Lost and Found, Drowning Pool’s Sinner, and Godsmack’s self-titled debut), but it definitely causes the album to sound a hell of a lot darker. If you want nu metal with a melodic twist, but with a thick sheet of darkness covering it, I would recommend checking this one out.

Although I believe this particular album to be nu metal, there are elements in both the song structure and the sound that remind me of Slipknot, Pantera, Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Cold, and Taproot. The song structure and the majority of the sound seem to take on a softer and less aggressive version of Slipknot. But there are chugging riffs that sound like they were pulled out of either a Machine Head or Pantera album (which is easily understandable, because just about everyone seems to be doing that these days). The melodic sections remind me strongly of the early works of Killswitch Engage and the more recent works of Taproot. And, of course, 5FDP is one of those nu metal bands that always throws in a couple of hard rock (sometimes acoustic) tracks that can be considered ballads when compared to the rest of the album, which in this case remind me of the alternative metal band Cold.

I’m not a huge fan of the singing on this album. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s not good; it doesn’t stick out to me in any way. I will say that there is plenty of emotion in the singing…but nothing else. A perfect singer has plenty of emotion, dynamics, volume control, pitch control (able to be in-tune), power, and the ability to sing in a style that fits the music. This singer has emotion and a considerable skill to generally stay in-tune, but nothing else. The place where the vocals pack the hardest punch (pun intended) is in the enraged screams that are purely belted out with PURE ANGER. When I say PURE ANGER, I FUCKING MEAN PURE ANGER!! So obviously this vocalist writes lyrics that are anger-venting (which is what a lot of the lyrics I write are). The vocals are also what remind me of Slipknot the most; the switch between belted-out low screams and melodic singing.

As far as nu metal goes, I wouldn’t consider this an essential by any means, but I would definitely recommend that you AT LEAST give it two good listens. I would rate this album 15/20 for being one of the better (not one of the best) nu metal albums out there in the world.