“With great power comes great responsibility”. So said Uncle Ben to the young Peter Parker in Spiderman. Five Finger Death Punch have embraced that wholeheartedly, albeit not as their original intent.
The band have certainly grown over the years since they first formed in 2005, but their last album, 2020s F8, was a real turning point for them, the band sharper and the previous excessive lifestyles addressed in no uncertain terms.
FFDP had always been a strong band, musically and lyrically, but this rebirth had turbocharged them, their mission to change society for the better at the fore. These weren’t saints or aspiring to be any such thing, their scars proudly on show, but their ability to walk the talk was pretty unique amongst the self-serving posturing of their peers.
Five Finger Death Punch – AfterLife (Better Noise Music)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
With the luxury of time to spend moulding the exact record they wanted as their ninth, Zoltan Bathory and Company have created something in AfterLife that still sounds like the band that everyone has come to know and love but also pushes boundaries. It’s a strange juxtaposition of cool, yet ceaselessly moving, certain of its own power but also not interested in surveying all that it’s master of, a shark constantly in motion and always dangerous.
Moreso than any other album they’ve recorded so far, AfterLife is awash with textures, ranging from bristling brutality to a wash of pastel colours. This isn’t to say the band have suddenly embraced yacht rock, selling out to gain a foothold as the nation’s favourites on radio and television. You get the feeling they’d rather quit straight away than even consider that route. What we have, though, is a band maturing in front of our eyes, their evolution meaning their intensity has found new, interesting outlets.
Monstrous riffs and huge hooks are scattered throughout the album, from the titular opener onwards, the attack brutal but strangely beautiful. As well as the eviscerating riffs of Bathory and new guitarist Andy James, the wrecking crew of Chris Kael’s bass, and the drums of Charlie Engen, singer Ivan Moody displays his most nuanced vocals yet, able to drag the depths of emotion from his soul into every note. Alongside the blistering pace of single IOU, All I Know lets Moody turn the aggression and anger down from vitriol fuelled roar to a more considered tone.
FFDP have always been able to write killer songs but tracks like Judgement Day and Pick Up Behind are absolutely huge, their visceral power and melodies making you want to smash things up whilst grinning from ear to ear, your heart full.
Whilst the balls out destruction is there to please the most febrile fan, their balance of gigantic slabs of hard rock and just keeping a little in reserve is perfectly illustrated in the crushing Gold Gutter, the effect even more devastating. By the time Welcome To The Circus closes the album, featuring Moody’s most gleefully unhinged performance yet, you’re dizzy with the euphoria, and all expectations have been exceeded.
It’s a fascinating and thrilling ride and one that the band can be rightly proud of, further proving that Five Finger Death Punch are a festival-headlining band here to stay.
The most important and accomplished album of their career, AfterLife is a modern classic that all other releases this year will be measured by. Breathtaking.