As a person that isn’t necessarily afraid of the mainstream like many of my peers, I’m willing to give some of the more popular Metal bands a try. That’s what led me to FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH in the first place. The new band from ex-MOTOGRATER vocalist Ivan Moody, caught my attention early in their career and I’ve been following them since then. Although they achieved some solid mainstream radio success (which from reading the reviews of it turns out is a bane on the existence of Metal?) with their debut album in 2007, I thought it was a pretty solid effort despite it’s over produced sound. Now its two years later and it was time for album number two, entitled “War Is The Answer”.
As a disclaimer, this album is just as radio friendly and follows in the style of the first, so if you are someone that can’t stand those Post-Grunge croons or has an irrational fear of modernity in their music, then I advise just stay clear and not bother. All it’s going to do is piss you off and the last thing we need is in this world is another Metalhead with a vendetta against those ‘mainstreamers’ and bitch about it on Metal Archives or Blabbermouth. Listen to what you love and support them.
Onto the album itself, “War Is The Answer” has FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH (I’ll refer to them as FFDP from now on due to the length and my laziness in typing) moving in a few new directions from their debut…and dare I say, maturing a bit. Okay, maturing is perhaps the wrong term for this band, considering that Ivan Moody has yet to really write any truly deep lyrical content, but the band is definitely finding consistency in their music. And it’s a positive step for them on “War Is The Answer”.
Musically, one can still hear the somewhat interesting approach the band has towards the music once again. Combining the catchiness and user friendliness of Post Grunge/Hard Rock together with more Metallic tendencies like down tuned guitars, double bassing, screamed/barked vocals and focuses on guitar work like solos, FFDP offer a pretty unique sound altogether that mixes the popular of two different worlds. The band does carry a significant amount of Groove in the mix too and one can hear that straight up on the opener “Dying Breed”. Ivan Moody does a better job with converting from his scream to his singing and vice versa on the release. He goes through some of the grey area to get there instead of black versus white on it and it adds a ton more depth to his display. Although he does tend to still be over layered and over produced, it’s his best display yet. Overall, the band just sounds a bit tighter on the record then they did before in their music. Perhaps it was the pulled back and slightly more raw production (the drums don’t sound like machines!) but it just sounds better.
Although the playing and chemistry is some of their best work on “War Is The Answer” some of their writing is hit or miss. The album starts off to a pretty solid start with some nice heavier tracks to get the blood boiling and that radio friendly single “Hard To See” with its catchy chorus out of the way, but it hits this pretty shameless shallow ballad “Crossing Over” and the energy just tanks. Luckily, the next two try to counteract this odd misstep with another fist pumper and an actually heartfelt ballad “Far From Home”, but after that the album spins down into a bit of mediocrity and filler. Essentially the entire middle of the album tends to fall prey to the substandard writing and never is able to come up for air until the somewhat surprising instrumental “Canto 34” and a pretty nice cover of “Bad Company”. Alas though, after the initial third of the album, “War Is The Answer” just tends to fall apart at the seems due to some pretty lack luster writing. Later listens would have me find some moments here and there at the end, but nothing seems to save it from its own sink hole and the album suffers because of it. No matter how much better the chemistry and playing are, FFDP falls to too much filler.
“War Is The Answer” tried very hard to build upon their first release, but the lack luster ending of the album just makes this album one to listen to for a bit and skip the rest. A handful of good songs couldn’t save the rest. It’s too bad considering how much the band has grown with each other since the debut. Perhaps their next album (considering the success this one already has had its pretty much inevitable – sorry all you haters) will fix the flaws of this release.
Songs to check out: “Hard To See”, “Dying Breed”, “Far From Home”.
(Online January 12, 2011)