Before their show at Hartwall Arena, we had the opportunity to attend a prelistening session of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH‘s eighth album “F8,” out on 28 February 2020. Founded in 2005, the American heavy metal band FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH have described their upcoming studio effort “F8” as a rebirth of the band. This is the first album featuring new drummer Charlie Engel who replaced Jeremy Spencer in 2018. Due to a strict schedule, we only got to listen to the album once, so this review is based on our first impressions of the album, and probably required a couple of more spins to completely sink in.
The record starts with an intro which is also the title track of the album. “F8” includes a hauntingly beautiful cello melody line, that is getting more force as orchestrations and drums kick in. All elements blend in nicely into a crescendo that makes an epic start of the record which shifts in beautifully into the first track of the record “Inside Out,” which also was the lead single of the album. Starting off with a heavy riff before the vocals kick in, the song incorporates motives from the atmospheric intro. With its catchy chorus, the song is an energetic opener to “F8.” The vocal performance of Ivan Moody is very strong on “Inside Out,” the C-part includes an emotive deep singing style which puts more depth into the song.
The album continues with “Full Circle,” which includes more rhythmic vocals in the verses, which become melodic in the chorus. “Full Circle” is a circle pit inducing fury with a poppy chorus that needs to be performed live to grasp the complete picture. “Living The Dream” has strong lyrics, is a bit of a poppier song, with that typical American sound to it. “A Little Bit Off” slows down the tempo. The song includes acoustic guitars and shows a beautiful side of Ivan Moody‘s voice, which shows just how versatile he is as a singer.
“A Little Bit Off” definitely is one of the more radio-friendly songs on the album, with plenty of catchy parts to sing along to. Somehow I feel as if the song could have benefitted from a collaboration with a DJ or something like that to even enhance the track. Even though the theme is melancholic, it’s an uplifting song with a motivational message in the style of “Let It Go.”
After a lighter song, a song like “Bottom Of The Top” is welcome. Fans of the first hour will definitely love this song, as it’s a typical FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH track. The clean vocals add a nice touch to the song and create a bit more depth. A full-frontal groove assault comes your way at the end of the track, where PANTERA-like riffs end the song with a blast. “To Be Alone” still has a groove, may it be a little bit slower. The song has very rhythmic verses and a great SEETHER-like chorus that gets stuck in your head. Perhaps this song is a bit more simplistic and straight-forward structure-wise, but it includes one of the best melodic solos on the album and is very catchy.
“Mother May I (Tic Toc)” follows a previous style than the previous song but is perhaps a bit of a filler track for me. The song does have some memorable riffs, but the chorus isn’t the most powerful one and was a little bit forgettable after such hard-hitting songs. “Darkness Settles In” slows the record down again. It’s a beautifully arranged slower song, with emotive vocals that go deep. The catchy and powerful chorus is probably the best part of the song.
If you like things rough, then “This Is War” probably is your song. By far the most aggressive song on the album. The high tempo comes a bit as a contrast after the slower track, but with its furious vocals and riffs, and a tiny bit of melodicity in the mix, this is a killer track. The song even has a bit of a proggy moment and a solo which grabs your attention immediately. Ending the song with “fuck,” probably was the most appropriate choice. Definitely beware of an aggressive moshpit during this song! “Leave It All Behind” slows down the tempo again, but feels a little bit more like a generic American heavy metal ballad, which at the same time could attract a broader audience.
“Scar Tissue” is a heavier song again containing fast riffs and great breakdowns, a lot of sections filled with groove, and a memorable chorus. If I’m completely honest, this track didn’t blow me away, even though it probably features the best performance by bass player Chris Kael.
“F8” ends with “Brighter Side Of Grey,” a ballad that talks about the fact that you only have one life. Ending the album with this specific ballad is an interesting choice, as it makes me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to end the album with a song like “A Little Bit Off,” or one of the heavier ones. But in a way, this certainly works.
The special edition of the album also contains three bonus tracks, which we also got to listen to. “Making Monsters,” actually, is probably my favorite song on this record. It has a bit more of a theatrical style when it comes down to lyrics, and the sound, and have been an outstanding collaborative track if the band had invited Mr. Lordi to feature as a guest since the track vaguely reminds me of LORDI. “Death Punch Therapy” would have probably been a killer way to end the record with, since it’s an energetic song with great melodies, and it ends with a blast.
Considering the fact that this genre of music is not really my cup of tea, I do have to admit that this album for fans will definitely be an instant hit. It has a lot of variety, the production is kick-ass, and there’s a lot in there for everyone. Personally, I would have liked to see a bit of a different structure on the album, since that the overall order of the songs means that every other song is a ballad. Other than that the album sounds like a classic FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH but heavier than ever.
Written by Laureline Tilkin
- Inside Out
- Full Circle
- Living The Dream
- A Little Bit Off
- Bottom Of The Top
- To Be Alone
- Mother May I (Tic Toc)
- Darkness Settles In
- This Is War
- Leave It All Behind
- Scar Tissue
- Brighter Side Of Grey
- Making Monsters (BONUS)
- Death Punch Therapy (BONUS)
- Inside Out (Radio Edit) (BONUS)
Ivan – Vocals
Zoltan – Guitars
Jeremy – Drums
Chris – Bass
Eleven Seven Music