Alright. Five Finger Death Punch have decided to give us the second part of their ambitious double album, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. II today. Now, I was NOT a fan of at least half of Vol. I. It was overly-repetitive, both musically and in subject matter. The self-proclaimed “Ambassadors of Anger”, maybe these guys just need a hug, I don’t know. I do find it funny that many of their detractors have taken to labeling them “Bro-Core”, due to the drunken frat boys and trailer park denizens that make up much of their following. So after being severely underwhelmed by last summer’s offering, I couldn’t even muster the effort to be nervous about this one. I think I’m just past the point of caring, but…I have a job to do, so review it I will.
As with every other album, the riffs are there, and Ivan Moody’s angry vocals are there, starting with the opening combo of “Here to Die”, and “Weight Beneath My Skin”. The awful cliché of the first track’s first line aside (“This wasn’t meant to be a love song, matter of fact this one’s about hate!”), musically it’s pretty damn good, and “Weight” is actually one of the strongest songs on the album. Guitarists Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory are very good at what they do, and there is no shortage of bone-crushing riffs to be found. The problem more often than not lies in the lyrics and vocal delivery.
Case in point, “Wrecking Ball”. It sounds like an angry list being checked off, and not that I have the cleanest mouth, but I swear, if Moody puts “Motherfucking” in front of one more thing I’m gonna scream! “I’m a motherfucking wrecking ball”? Gimme a break. Also from the Clichés R’ Us bargain bin you’ll find “Cradle to the Grave”. Uggh. Can we just put a moratorium on using this, “I’m Alive”, “Freak” or anything remotely similar as a song title from now on? Thank you. And let’s not forget the makes-me-wanna-shoot-myself balladry of “Cold”. It’s awful, just awful.
A positive sign, however, is first single “Battle Born”. This is a very, very good song from the point of view of a touring musician who’s been everywhere in the world, and shaken every hand. In this day and age, that’s done for the love of music, but also out of necessity, since bands don’t sell millions of records anymore. So it’s important to get out there and play, sell merch, etc. I get it, believe me I do. And it’s nice to see this band has some creative fire left in them. “Matter of Time” is another good one, because it doesn’t sound like everything else, but still has that trademark 5FDP rage and angst. A brief instrumental interlude, “The Agony of Regret” is also nicely done; I just wish it wasn’t placed next to “Cold”.
Another pair of rockers, “Let This Go” and “My Heart Lied” are up next, and they’re not good, not bad, just meh. Pretty bland, really. “A Day In My Life” manages to poke its head out as another good one, though. Luckily for us, 5FDP chose to save the worst for last: an unholy abomination cover of “House of the Rising Sun”. I can’t believe this is the same band that did such a great job on “Bad Company” a few years ago. Bottom line: I’m not impressed with this one, and I think my tenure as a fan may have to come to an end if these guys don’t stop putting out the same thing again and again.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Weight Beneath My Skin”, “Battle Born”, “Matter of Time”, “A Day In My Life”