Artist: Five Finger Death Punch
Album: The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1
Whether you’re a Knucklehead or just discovered the band, one thing is for certain Five Finger Death Punch has always turned heads. With 3 studio albums under their belt, each one a bit more experimental than the last, this band knows exactly how to keep their fans on their toes. With their latest single “Lift Me Up” which sees a hand lent from one of the best and most iconic voices in the history of metal in Rob Halford of Judas Priest, the band plays at an 80s type vibe while keeping the signature Death Punch sound they have been both loved and revered for. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; Through the rest of the album we see guest vocals from Maria Brink of In This Moment, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and Max Cavalera of Soulfly! But what would this review accomplish without talking about the bands’ most experimental track to date. I’m speaking, of course, about their cover of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” which features the one and only Tech N9ne! Who better to cover the track than the Death Punch fellows, am I right? All of these tracks are great, but let’s talk about what makes this album their best to date, indeed, one of the best of the year shall we?
Lyrical Content: Ivan has stated in interviews that this album was mainly written about living in Sin City and all it has to offer. The lyrics touch on subjects like failing yourself, being away from the ones you love, bands being fake to their fans while being all about the money and more. A couple in particular caught my ear, though. The title track “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell”, being one of them. Ivan speaks of God as a woman and the Devil as a man, which might seem odd to some because most think of God as a male figure. In many interviews, he has stated that he believes a being that can be ultimately calm about a situation and then destroy entire cities in a split second has to be a woman. From the lyrics, it seems as though he’s soul-searching and he cries out to God for an answer. Her answer being that she’s ashamed of what he’s become, his life of sin and doom. He later speaks of the devil looking “just like me, I looked away…I turned away!” implying that he’s ashamed of the demons that have consumed him. The chorus “Arms wide open, I stand alone. I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone. Right or wrong, I can hardly tell…I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell” are self-explanatory. He feels alone and accepts his faults, he knows that he’s fallen short of the glory of the omnipotent one and that he’s closer to hell, but he isn’t letting it stop him. This song is easily one of my favorite Death Punch tracks to date. There’s another track in particular I would like to talk about in terms of lyrical content. The track is called “M.I.N.E (End This Way)” and, from what Ivan has revealed in interviews, this track was written for his son. As everyone has gathered, regardless of his hard-ass demeanor, Ivan Moody is very much a family man. If you’ve ever seen 5FDP live, you will know he likes to pull kids up on stage and let them be a part of the action. The track “M.I.N.E (End This Way)” is about the feelings he gets as a parent when he has to leave his family for a tour. He feels as though he’s not living up to his son’s expectations and like he’s failing him. He knows that his son will understand but all he wants to do is be with his son for as much time as he possibly can. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you know how it feels when you have to leave your kids, whether it be with a babysitter, daycare, school, etc… it’s a feeling that eats at your heart but eventually, you have to control it. You know that once you get back to them, that they will still love you just as much as they did. Ivan knows this as well, he just hates being away from family all the same.
Instrumentation and Song Structure: Instrumentally, this album is top-notch. The heavy parts feel heavier, the softer parts feel softer and you can feel the emotion that comes with it all. This album is one of the most well-rounded Death Punch albums to date. It keeps elements that fans love, keeps you on your toes and knocks you on your ass with surprises you never thought you’d hear. The most obvious of these being their brutal cover of “Mama Said Knock You Out” which features Strange Music artist and Kansas native, Tech N9ne. Most metal bands won’t touch a rap song, especially a cover but Death Punch pulled it off masterfully. Who better to cover a track about knocking your opponent out? No one could have done it better than 5FDP and Tech did and that’s the truth. They brought their sound, their brutality and their unique flavor and blended it in a way that made it feel like the original but heavier, more brutal and more devastating than before. The song structure throughout the album proves that they have come a long way since their last album as well. Every verse is perfectly placed, the chorus’s are catchy and the hooks are even catchier!
As I said before, whether you’re a Knucklehead or this is your first album listening to them, you will definitely get the feel that these guys know what they’re doing. This album will have you pumping and swinging your fists, screaming your lungs out and singing your heart out! When you’re done, you’ll be begging for another taste and so you’ll put it on repeat, as I have. You have to wonder if Volume 1 turned out this great, what will Volume 2 have in store for us? Well, while we don’t have the answer to that question, we do know this: It will be something that Knuckleheads, both new and old, and fans all over the Metal spectrum will truly cherish and enjoy more and more with each listen! Pick up your copy of The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell on July 30th and get DEATH PUNCHED once more!