It’s another raucous offering in the form of ‘F8′, the eighth studio album from Five Finger Death Punch.
Released on 28th February 2020 on new label Better Noise, this collection of tracks is one that almost never came to be; from well-publicised personal issues, member changes (in the form of new drummer Charlie Engen taking over the sticks from founding member Jeremy Spencer), label woes to name but a few. Nevertheless, they’ve weathered the storm and managed to make it through for this latest release.
The album opens with a beautiful string-led crescendo, which seamlessly transitions into opener Inside Out, the lead single and standout track for me on ‘F8’. It has everything you’d expect from a Death Punch track; brooding dark lyrical content, growling vocals from frontman Ivan Moody, and a melodic hooky chorus to boot. It’s the perfect pick for summing up the timbre of the whole album.
Full Circle is a delight to listen to, a slight industrial-techno feel to the rhythm is a welcome change-up from the usual straight hard-hitting I’m used to from the band. Moody exudes swagger in his vocal delivery, it’d be really interesting to hear this track played live and see how it carries in that setting. Living The Dream really caught me off guard with all the superhero references and for a moment I was nervous they were going for a slightly corny edge, but when you think about it more pragmatically and try to block out the name drops, it’s actually quite poignant to think about the fact that we’re constantly looking for saviours to help us out, perhaps wrongly.
One of the most talked-about tracks on the record is A Little Bit Off, and don’t get me wrong it is extremely relatable, but something didn’t quite stick with me on this one. It’s unmistakeably not FFDP’s usual tone musically, and it stuck out a bit too much in all the heavy noise surrounding it in the form of the other tracks. In any other scenario and placement and as a standalone track, I think I’d prefer it. Things pick back up immediately in Bottom of The Top, and throw us back into the Death Punch sound we’re used to. Punchy and seethingly angry, I’d definitely stick this one on when I’ve had the day from hell. The riffy intro from guitarist Zoltan Bathory in To Be Alone is the most interesting element to the track for me; however, it showcases that the band can really nail a slightly slower tempo and still keep that angry vibe going strong.
This Is War is undoubtedly the thrashiest song on offer if you’re looking for that side of the band (it actually made me turn my speakers up louder to appreciate it). New drummer Engen definitely excels in this track and keeps it ticking along despite the slightly repetitive vocals. Leave It All Behind plays a bit safe for my taste and is one of the tracks I would hesitantly call a filler; it’s by no means a bad song, just not a standout if you didn’t want to check out the full record.
Album closer Brighter Side of Grey is, for lack of a better word, devastatingly beautiful. It’s lyrically the deepest I’ve heard from Ivan Moody, with lines such as “I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow,” hitting ridiculously hard. It makes me immensely happy that the frontman has managed to channel these hauntingly sad emotions into such a beautiful song, and I can only hope that he’s found some form of peace and happiness in recent times.
Make no mistake, ‘F8′ as an album is not a massive departure from Five Finger Death Punch’s famous sound; some people will take that as a massive win, naysayers may complain that it’s unoriginal. One thing is for sure, after eight albums the band do not seem to be slowing down their ambition to become one of the biggest hard rock groups in the world. For a moment, their future may have looked bleak, but it seems that the Death Punch train is keeping rolling on for the foreseeable future, and it’s certainly on an upward trajectory.