Five Finger Death Punch – War Is The Answer

This sophomore offering from Five Finger Death Punch features the same line-up as the sound that gave you The Way of the Fist, which provided “The Bleeding” and “Never Enough”, the two songs that propelled them into regular airplay on rock stations.   If you’ve been in your local Best Buy recently, you may have heard their first single off the album, titled “Hard To See”.  The thing with 5FDP, though, is they truly do aspire to be more than prefab, mass-consumable rock.  I listen to this album, and I hear some flashes of talent that extends beyond what they’re known for, and I feel their strength is in a heavier vein of metal than what is usually acceptable on your major radio stations.  At the same time, the album as a whole feels scattered and loose; you go from catchy, inspired rock in “Hard to See” to a very traditional, melodic metal offering in “Bulletproof” with an unclear message. The angry, defiant “Burn It Down” seems included as an afterthought and was quite powerful, which goes back to their strength, which is raw, melodic metal.

I’m not gonna lie, I think Ivan Moody, their lead singer, makes the band.  This guy will have work in the industry for as long as he chooses to rock, and in this album he does get to try some new situations, and while the talent’s there in his growls and screams, he needs to work on control when he has the opportunity to sing cleanly, I was cringing all the way through “Far From Home,” if he can improve his sense of pitch in clean sections it’s going to do wonders for their sound and versatility.

Viewing the album as a whole, I’ll call it an acceptable effort by some genuinely talented men, but if they can focus on the aggressive style that they do so well without even being aware of it, they could probably produce something incredible. I will say, though, that their cover of “Bad Company” is worth the price of admission and is not to be missed! Would I spend the $9.99 on the album?  I don’t think so.  I listened to it on Napster, 5 downloads and unlimited streaming for 5 bucks a month makes it pretty much the best 5 bucks you can spend any given month.

Tone/Overall Sound: 15/20 pts
Melody/Harmony: 14/20 pts
Rhythm/Syncopation: 18/20 pts
Mixing/Production: 14/20 pts
Theme/Concept: 6/10 pts
Presentation: 9/10 pts

Total: 76/100

(More info on my grading criteria here.)

How Music is Graded (My 100-point scale.)

Tone/Overall Sound: 20 pts
How do the instruments interact with each other, and how is the end result aesthetically? This also includes vocal qualities, though not lyrics (covered under Theme).
Melody/Harmony: 20 pts
Does the artist display technical prowess by utilizing melody and/or harmony effectively?
Rhythm/Syncopation: 20 pts
Does the rhythm of the piece contribute to the sound as a whole? Have they searched beyond the standard rhythms or utilized different percussion instruments?
Mixing/Production: 20 pts
How polished is the album on execution? Are effects, samples, and dynamics used effectively to improve the overall quality of the album? Does the flow of the album from track to track feel natural?
Theme/Concept: 10 pts
Is there an overarching theme to the album as a whole? Are the lyrics meaningful, well-presented, and well thought-out?
Presentation: 10 pts
Do the artwork and packaging reinforce the story of the album? Does the presentation fit the image of the band, and vice-versa? How is the quality of the artwork?

Originality, exceptional execution, and innovation are all rewarded heavily.