In an unusual turn of events, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH recently went on tour with MEGADETH as their special guest. This tour came through Helsinki on January 20th, 2020, and the band offered a pre-listening session before the show at the Ice Hall. Naturally, we had to be there to check it out.
The intro is also the title track, “F8,” with a cello and orchestrations, before the drums kick in. The combination of the crescendo and the emotions put in by the instruments make it an epic start of the record and it shifts smoothly into “Inside Out.” The shortened version of the intro is incorporated in the single release of “Inside Out.”
“Inside Out” starts with a heavy riff before the vocals kick in. It uses the same motives from the atmospheric intro. The song has a catchy, clean chorus and shows off its balanced and well-rounded production. The vocal performance here is well-done the C-part has an emotive deep voice, with the a very traditional American rock feel to the vocals. All-in-all an energetic track to start the album with, as well as a lyrically emotive track about addiction.
The vocals in “Full Circle” are more rhythmic in the verses, but become more melodic in the chorus. The energy is a definite circle-pit-inducing fury that needs to be performed live to grasp the complete picture. It has a well-rounded chorus, which is a bit poppier.
“Living the Dream” is another single, released on February 7th. It feels like a song about the American Dream: “Come to America, the road to hell with good intentions”; it’s a powerful line with a political message. The sound is pretty typical American heavy metal, so basically classic FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. It’s got pop-influenced catchy melodies and Ivan Moody‘s voice has a bit of that American rock vibe again.
“A Little Bit Off” slows the tempo down, includes acoustic guitars, and Moody has a nice vocal tone, showcasing his versatility. It’s definitely the most radio-friendly track on the album, with plenty of parts to sing along to. There could have been a nice collaboration with a DJ to make it even bigger and more dynamic (think AVICII‘s hits, for example). Even though it has a melancholic theme, the song is strangely motivational and has a bit of a “let it go” feel to it. “Bottom of the Top” has a more aggressive approach, which to me at least sounds like a more typical 5FDP song. Clean vocals add a nice touch to the song and more depth. Before a full-frontal groove assault comes your way, PANTERA-like riffs at the end of the song make it finish with a blast.
“To be Alone” has a bit of a slower groove to it, very rhythmic verses, and a great SEETHER-like chorus that easily gets stuck in your head. It’s a more simple and straightforward song, and again very catchy, with some of the best melodic solos on the album. “Mother May I (Tic Toc)” follows a similar style as the previous song, but feels a bit like a filler track despite a few memorable riffs. Ultimately, the chorus feels a bit weak, which is where the song gets lost. “Darkness Settles In” is a beautifully arranged slower song with emotional vocals that dive deep. It has a catchy and a powerful chorus and could be a ’90s American rock ballad.
“This is War” is maybe the most aggressive song on the album. The high tempo comes as quite a contrast, with furious vocals and riffs with a bit of melody pushed through in the chorus. Definitely beware of an aggressive mosh-pit during this song, as it’s probably the best moment of the album. The C-part leads to a proggy moment and a solo, which surprises the listener before it grabs you by the throat again. Ending with “fuck” seemed an appropriate way to end a song like this.
“Leave it All Behind” slows down the pace a bit to a more mid-tempo with a more generic metalcore-like sound that would serve well as a single, as it can probably attract a broader audience with a bit more of an early 2000s American metal sound. “Scar Tissue” means it’s time for a heavier song again, with fast riffs, great breakdowns, and groovy sections with a memorable chorus. The album would have been just fine without this track, even though it has some of the best work by bassist Chris Kael, highlighting his skills with fast and groovy sections. However, beyond the impressive bass, the song again feels a bit like filler.
“Brighter Side of Grey” is a bit of a “live while you can” song, from what I can tell. The album’s structure so far has been heavy-slow-heavy-slow and may have benefited from fewer of the ballad-like songs. It is nevertheless a nice, emotional love song, which could perfectly serve as some kind of opening dance at a wedding. It’s an interesting choice to end the album with and I would have perhaps ended the album with more of a bang; alternatively, the other ballad would have been a much more powerful and suitable ending for the album.
It’s a shame that “Making Monsters” is a bonus track, because this was one of our favorite tracks. It’s a bit more theatrical lyric- and sound-wise, which makes it a fun and energetic song with a heavy and dirty, even jazzy kind of groovy riff. It sounds a tiny bit like it could be LORDI song, and of course… it’s a song about monsters (potential collaboration, maybe?).
“Death Punch Therapy” starts with assault of sounds in the background, moving on to metalcore clean vocals in the chorus and energetic riffs. Again, why was this not on the regular album version? It would have felt like a better ending track than “Brighter Side of Grey.”
The radio edit of “Inside Out” includes the shortened intro, making it into a great version of the kickass opening track, which is also used in the lyric video.
“F8” proves itself to a be a reasonably diverse album with lots of hard-hitting songs and emotive moments. It could have lived without a few of the slower songs and could have replaced the ending with something that might leave more of an impact. The production is well-rounded, perhaps a bit plasticy at times, but doesn’t suffer much from being overly polished; the vocal production is, in particular, very well done. The backing arrangements don’t overpower the band’s sound and there are some surprising instruments at times, including saxophone. Overall, it’s an album that sounds like classic 5FDP that fans will hopefully continue to enjoy!
Report by Laureline Tilkin-Franssens
Interview with messier — “There’s only three of us, so we have to make it count and get the sound as big as we can.”