Five Finger Death Punch – Afterlife
Released: August 19, 2022
Ivan Moody | Lead vocals
Chris Kael | Bass
Charlie Engen | Drums
Zoltan Bathory | Rhythm guitar
Andy James | Lead guitar
Two and a half years since the release of F8 (see review here), and the drip feeding of singles since April 2022, Five Finger Death Punch have finally spawned their ninth studio album, Afterlife, through Better Noise Music. “Title inspiration is drawn on real, near-death experiences Ivan Moody and Zoltan Bathory have encountered”, admits Bathory. Also, a fitting name, given the current times. Life as we knew it, is no more. The new album brings with it a new sound from guitar virtuoso Andy James, replacing Jason Hook.
A music box and maniacal laughter lures us into Track 1, ‘Welcome to the Circus’. I was hoping for something new to kick start the album; while this is a cracker of a track, there was nothing that stood out to me. Recycled lyrics (there’s always that Jekyll & Hyde) and that familiar FFDP sound that all fans know and love. Certainly not lacking, it’s a nice segue into title track ‘Afterlife’, the first single released in April earlier this year. Offering a taste of new licks from guitarist Andy James, along with that aggressive husk in Ivan Moody’s voice. This song has transitioned seamlessly into my playlist.
Track 3 ‘Times Like These’, was the last single released in July, before the album was shared with the world. A surprising melodic tempo. I’m such a sucker for FFDP’s slower tracks. They pull me in and punch me in the gut, with their feels. Ivan has such a talent with expressing his pain through his lyrics, and the music in this track only intensifies those feelings. It’s the authenticity that I admire most about this band. The guitars in this track are progressive and freaking beautiful, a standout for me.
Hoping for a pick-me-up, track 4 ‘Roll Dem Bones’, did not disappoint. It has the speed and chunkiness that I needed to get over the devastation from that last track. Filled with the Engen’s pounding drums and raw grit, the guitar riffs make me an instant air-guitar pro. All the ingredients needed to get my head banging. That familiar FFDP sound is still present, with some unexpected yet welcome elements thrown into the mix. This is an absolute banger of a track, my favourite so far. Hang on to your seats, still another 8 to go!
I spoke too soon – back into the world of despair. ‘Pick Up Behind You’ is another emotional piece, reminiscent of teen angst. Although Kael’s bass really stands out in this track, there wasn’t much else I could find that made this different from any other FFDP song.
Into the gallows we go! Track 6 ‘Judgement Day’, transports me to a time and place of judgement and hanging. Obviously, the intent. Some very new sounds here; chanting and dare I say, a slight techno vibe (samples), with a crescendo that doesn’t really lead anywhere, but the hype is fun. This is not just a song, it’s a story, narrated in a way that only Ivan could do. I’d love to see this one performed live. ‘IOU’ is a typical middle finger salute. Musically, it has all the diversity you would expect from FFDP. Anger, frantic insanity, and a big one-two, fuck you!
With an acoustic flamenco country feel, I had to check to make sure it was still FFDP playing when ‘Thanks for Asking’ started. Now, this is something different, really laid back and easy on the ears. Slowed, deep vocals and a tempo to match, that incorporates a little rock here and there. FFDP have undoubtedly expanded their audience with this one. I’m really loving this track.
If you’re expecting something outrageously different from the proceeding four tracks, you will be heavily disappointed. The album overall is quite typical and one for the fans. Any fence sitters will probably jump off, as there’s nothing much new on offer.
Am I disappointed with this album? Not in the slightest. It’s Five Finger Death Punch! I’m a fan, so I enjoy that old recognisable sound. I was hoping for some more progression and although evident in one or two tracks, it wasn’t life-changing. They’ve played it safe and fans won’t be complaining.
Five Finger Death Punch – Afterlife tracklisting:
1. Welcome to the Circus
3. Times Like These
4. Roll Dem Bones
5. Pick Up Behind you
6. Judgement Day
8. Thanks for Asking
9. Blood and Tar
10. All I Know
11. Gold Gutter
12. The End
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