REVIEW: FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – “And Justice for None”
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
As an established rock/metal band, Five Finger Death Punch possesses a lot of things. One of those things is staying power. The band has survived minimal line-up changes over the years but is no stranger to controversy. Over the past year or so, there have been rumors out of the 5FDP camp, a few ominous announcements which were eventually recanted, and a lot of apparent general turmoil. With vocalist Ivan Moody’s stay in a rehab facility in 2017, the future of the band was really anyone’s guess.
Apparently, Moody’s stint in rehab was a success as the band is preparing to release its 7th studio album, ‘And Justice for None’, a lofty 16-track dissertation of exquisite aggression with contentious lyrics married with Jeremy Spencer’s signature driving drums and Chris Kael’s similarly constructed bass lines, the catchy hooks and scorching solos of Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook’s rhythm and lead guitars, respectively, and Ivan Moody’s unwavering, almost antagonistic vocals that seem to dare the listener to not enjoy, or relate in any way, to the mood and message being portrayed.
The whole notion of turmoil within the band’s camp is acknowledged in no uncertain terms in the opening track, “Trouble”. The repeating mantra of this song goes something like “…I don’t look for trouble, trouble looks for me” which, by most accounts, is fairly accurate. This is a great opening track and sets the bar pretty high for the remaining 15 songs. It, along with pretty much every other track on the record, embodies 5FDP’s signature sound. An even better example is the next track in line, “Fake”, which seems to be calling out someone in particular but probably more so mirrors the majority of individuals within the entertainment industry as a whole. The 4th track on the album, “Sham-Pain” also follows in this same fashion and is the first really diverse song on the album, having a distinctly different sound than its predecessors.
Track five, “Blue on Black” is the first of two cover tunes on the album. Originally done by blues great Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 5FDP’s version adds a decidedly heavier spin on the blues classic with Moody’s powerful vocals in stark contrast to Shepherd’s more low-key delivery. I loved KWS’s original recording of this song so it has quickly become my favorite track on this album as well. Further down in the song listing is the second cover on ‘And Justice for None’, an equally solid remake of The Offspring’s “Gone Away”. 5FDP slowed the tempo of this song considerably and to astounding effect. Their version is recognizable as the classic 1997 Offspring track but is much cleaner and more thought-provoking with the slower tempo.
While 5FDP are masters at boisterous, in your face heavy metal, they’ve also produced many songs that could be considered ballads and this album is no exception. The 7th track is “I Refuse”, the first ballad to appear on this offering. Another heartfelt and thoughtful composition with an acoustic-based solo that fits seamlessly within the fabric of the arrangement. There are several other songs remaining that are disguised as ballads, “When the Seasons Change”, “Stuck in My Ways”, “Will the Sun Ever Rise”. Most of these have a slightly quicker tempo and stronger vocals than that of your average ballad, the stronger vocals being expected from the likes of Ivan Moody.
Rounding out the album are a remaining handful of songs that just prove to further solidify 5FDP’s standing in the annals of rock history. “Top of the World”, “Fire in the Hole”, “Rock Bottom”, “Bad Seed”, all of these display the definitive sound 5FDP has worked hard to develop over the 13 years of their existence. The band does mix it up a bit on tracks “Bloody” and “Save Your Breath”, both having a slightly different sound which is unexpected but welcome. 5FDP has a tendency to rely too much on that signature sound and, consequently, do have certain songs that sound very much alike. However, this album may boast the signature sound they’ve spent so long cultivating but, overall, each song stands on its own and is distinguishable from the next. Something that has been lacking to some extent on previous outings.
‘And Justice for None’ is a roving journey through the world of Five Finger Death Punch, narrated by an imposable force known as Ivan Moody. Moody successfully shows his vocal ranges, albeit rather focused, while allowing the many talents of his band mates to shine through. This record comes highly recommended and not just for established 5FDP fans. Everyone should listen to this at least twice.