Apparently metalheads do not like to openly admit that they are fans of Five Finger Death Punch. I’ve actually heard the band described as the Nickleback of the metal world – hugely popular, despite the fact that no one claims to actually like them. I never really thought of it like that, but I guess it has merit. I however, like FFDP – mainly their first two records – but I can understand why many may be ashamed of admitting to liking them.
Their commercial success can’t be denied. They have created three solid rock albums, all of which have gone gold, so it’s no surprise they wouldn’t switch things up with their fourth effort, The Wrong Side of Heaven, and the Righteous Side of Hell. The problem with FFDP is they are often too generic, and just too cliché. Despite this though, it’s really hard not to like The Wrong Side of Heaven, and the Righteous Side of Hell, the first volume of a two-part record.
It may be a little paint-by-numbers but they have tapped into something that has attracted both the casual, and hardcore metalheads. Be honest, would you change such a winning formula?
FFDP prove not only their dominance with this record, but the fact that no one can overshadow them by including guest appearances from Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) and Maria Brink (In This Moment).
As already mentioned, everything you would expect from FFDP – crunching riffs, plenty of melody, Ivan Moody’s trademark overtly masculine growls, with a side of croon, and headbanging beats – are all here. It’s got all the trimmings of a great metal album. Those unfortunate clichéd lyrics have also returned, and perhaps with even less of an attempt to hide it. But hey, it’s FFDP and they don’t care what you think. Moody reminds us of that again and again in “Dot Your Eyes” when he sings that he could “give a rat’s ass what you think about me.” Can’t really get more metal than that.
The worst offender would be “Burn M.F”, which leaves little to be desired in lyrical depth, but I dare you not to be singing along after a single listen. At the second chorus of my first listen, I couldn’t help but chant away with Moody. That’s the thing about FFDP, it doesn’t really matter. Listen hard enough to the lyrics, and odds are you’ll scoff, but the songs are catchy, and the instrumentation is always great.
“Diary of a Deadman” is a deeply emotional ride as Moody takes the listener along on a journey of introspection. Flowing from the emotional spoken word pieces, to some the best guitar work from Zoltan and Hook, this is one of the best tracks on the album.
While it’s easy to forgive some less than desirable things about the record, the cover of L.L Cool J’s “Mama Knock You Out” featuring Tech N9ne really could have been left off completely. Not even close to a fan of rapping, I guess Tech N9ne is pretty great at what he does, but Moody really needs to just stick to what he knows best, and it’s not rapping.
The Wrong Side of Heaven, and the Righteous Side of Hell is exactly what you would expect from a FFDP album, and it makes no apologies. There are the softer ballads we’ve come to love (Wrong Side of Heaven, M.I.N.E) interspersed between some real headbangers, and metal anthems with choruses that just beg you to sing along.
In spite of its formulaic approach, it’s hard not to like the record, and the guest vocals do add a little variety. I’m actually looking forward to hearing Volume 2.