For Fans Of
I don’t begrudge Five Finger Death Punch for their success – not at all. Because for every band existing at this particular group’s level of popularity (or higher), there are countless hordes of bands who, for one reason or another, never made it off the ground; who never went beyond their local town or city; and who never received even a smidgen of a fraction of the same kind of success that Five Finger Death Punch have achieved in their time. For better or for worse, these guys are truly one of the lucky ones in today’s heavy music climate and I hope they don’t take that shit for granted.
However, I really do begrudge Five Finger Death Punch, AKA “Diet Pantera”, for writing six incredibly similar records that all peddle their generic hard-rock and overly repetitive heavy metal sound to a fanbase who don’t seem to not know any better. (Or at least who don’t seem to realise that far better bands exist. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in between the two points as most of their fans seemed to have missed the obvious memo that this wasn’t going to be a proper new album either). However, if you’ve been lucky enough to never have heard this band’s drab metal/rock sound as of yet, just know that it sits somewhere between Stone Sour’s hooks and choruses, Nickelback’s musical repetition and radio-friendly song-writing as well as the aforementioned Pantera’s sense of riffs and grooves – just nowhere near as iconic as the latter’s were, mind you.
As for my point about how FFDP’s six albums are just vast fillerish quantity rather than genuine quality, this Sin City outfits first ever greatest hits release – ‘A Decade Of Destruction’ – only serves to highlight just how bloody much they’ve taken the groove metal/hard rock sounds of those that came before them and ran it straight into the fuckin’ ground. Because when a greatest hits release, one that spans material from six different albums (including a new single and cover) set over the course of ten years, shows practically zero signs of progress and lacks any real differentiation between releases, that ain’t a good sign at all. It also tells me that this is a band that really grew lazy from resting on their laurels and who didn’t care to challenge themselves musically any further. Or rather, this comes from a band that actually cannot challenge themselves and cannot aim for any kind of change. So, when looking at ‘A Decade Of Destruction’, is 5FDP’s sound and instrumentation consistent? Yes, for sure. Yet is their sound consistently the same uninspired approach and dull delivery repeated ad nauseam? Most definitely!
As for this new and somewhat pointless compilation, it features all of FFDP‘s biggest hits. Including truly unforgettable and totally original* songs like: ‘Coming Down’, ‘Lift Me Up’, the laughable cringe of ‘Jekyll & Hyde‘, the sappy ballad ‘Remember Everything’, the actually decent ‘The Bleeding‘, ‘Bad Company‘, ‘Wash It All Away’, ‘Battle Born’, and the go-to “emotional” anthem for wife-beating, tribal tattoo donning pit lords everywhere; ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven’. Of this new collection’s 16 songs, it features one new song and a cover; opener ‘Trouble’ (more proof that the passing of time will never change this band’s bottom-of-the-barrel metal sound) and a rock ballad cover of The Offspring’s ‘Gone Away’ (which is actually not that bad), with 14 other various songs lifted from their previous six interchangeable records.
Actually, now that I think about it, this album’s tracklisting isn’t in the release order of the band’s half-dozen records. Meaning that you get the odd jarring moment where you jump from songs that are mixed, mastered and compressed differently due to them having come out a few years apart and from having being worked on by different people. Then again, if you placed these songs in their chronological order, you’d understand just how self-derivative this band’s music is.
If any wider knowledge can be extracted from experiencing ‘A Decade Of Destruction’, it’s that this band’s decade-long discography is essentially the same goddamn record released again and again. Not only that but that this Las Vegas act are snake oil salesmen, pushing the same old product every two years to the poor saps who eat this shit in a frenzy. (Also, yes, I will make a judgement call about their fans for two reasons. One: I have a good mate in Bendigo who for years, had a neighbour that’d blast the same fuckin’ FFDP track every goddamn day at full volume – couldn’t tell you which track as they all sound the same anyway – while said notorious local wanker would sit in his car drinking beer until he’d eventually go inside to play the mind-numbing song some more to ignore his wife and kids. And two: I had another friend who lives closer into Melbourne that for ages, had a real dickhead of a neighbour who just never understood that people don’t want to hear ‘Bad Company‘ past 9pm each night and that not everyone wants to hear Ivan Moody grumble out a gravely-sounding vocal hook at 11-fucking-am on a quiet Sunday morning).
Now, in all honesty, back in the day (read: 2007), I actually didn’t mind FFDP. This was when they only had their debut record, 2007’s decent ‘The Way Of The Fist’ out, which featured some solid tracks, like opener ‘Ashes’, for instance. In fact, I actually heard ‘Ashes‘ on a Rock Sound compilation CD at the time and reminded myself to keep tabs on this band moving forward. So when the follow-up album ‘War Is The Answer’ – one of their highest selling albums to date – arrived in 2009, I gave it a whirl only to sadly realise that it was basically just their debut album dressed up with a couple extra bells and whistles: very similar melodies, creepily similar song structures, eerily similar solos and riffs from Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory, drummer Jeremy Spencer’s oddly similar cut-and-paste beats, etc. This same feeling of ‘been-there, done-that’ returned with a larger presence for 2011’s utterly lacklustre ‘American Capitalist’ LP. (God, that cringey front cover haunts my dreams even now). Clearly, while time had moved forward, this band’s music had not. So by this point, I well and truly gave up any hope of seeing any form of musical reinvention or progression come from ‘Baby’s first metal band’. Turns out, 2011 me – in all of his long, curly-haired goodness – was right for moving on as the multi-platinum selling band (just more evidence that people will buy shit) only doubled down on their mediocre sound with their following three copy-cat records. And sweet idiotic muscles of Phil Anselmo, listening to those albums in order to try and gain some wider context for this review was like unfairly flagellating my ears for some sin they had not committed.
But therein lies the rub, folks: the only thing worse than listening to a greatest hits collection from Five Finger Death Punch is actually listening to the full records from which these songs were culled from.
Some would argue that a band such as Five Finger Death Punch is a necessary gateway group that will help to push newcomers to metal onto other and hopefully better metal acts and I’d agree in that sense. As I do feel that each and every genre needs those kinds of gateway bands to help the respective style flourish into new ears and fresh minds. For heavy metal, this list includes bands like Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, among others. But in one final caveat for such a topic, why the fucking hell did that have to also include FFDP?
So, no, you probably couldn’t do any worse than this.
Fuck this release’s tracklisting, it all sounds the same anyway.
‘A Decade Of Destruction’ is out now. [*And yes, that was sarcasm, good job.]