Overall Score: 5/10 Songs: 5/10 Replay Value: 3/10 Production: 4/10 Pros: Some moments see the band try to branch out into different directions Cons: Overly produced and largely forgettable
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH are a divisive band. There are many reasons for people to fall on either side of the fence when discussing them. Musically speaking they have trodden a rocky path, delivering some genuinely great metal songs over the years, while also creating some equally as forgettable.
Afterlife is album number nine and sees them at a crossroads as a band. Over the course of the last few years through personal struggles, lineup changes and some questionable choices, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH have been a band lacking in direction, in danger of falling into obscurity.
The listener’s mileage on Afterlife will greatly depend on what exactly you want from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH as a band. Given everything they have been through, this is a less antagonistic album than you might expect. Settling into a more radio friendly sound. Afterlife and Roll Dem Bones are both straight ahead bruisers, providing the album with the appropriate punch.
Judgment Day brings in trap elements. It has a down tempo mostly spoken vocal, punctuated by moments of clean singing. It’s interesting to hear hip hop elements come back into their arsenal again. Times Like These and All I Know are attempts at soaring balladeering that come across as hollow and overly saccharine. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH have proven they can pen a somewhat emotional track in the past, but here it doesn’t work. It feels more another shot at getting on radio then a genuine attempt at something more heartfelt.
Thanks For Asking is full on country and will surely divide fan opinion. It largely succeeds and is one of the album’s more interesting moments. Processed beats propped up by acoustic guitar and a laid back vocal from Ivan Moody, it’s another string in the band’s bow that will surely expand their audience further.
Afterlife is an album that will prompt a lot of conversations. It’s not quite the reinvention or reintroduction many people have been led to believe it will be. There are some good songs on here and the moments where they attempt to expand their sound are admirable, even if they don’t entirely work. But for all of that, this is still just another FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH album at its core.
Musically, this is a collection of overly produced, easily accessible and instantly forgettable songs. This feels like an album that will live and die by which songs are played live, with very little to keep listeners coming back when compared to other albums in the band’s catalogue.
It is hard to say what will happen to FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH going forward. They have become an arena band and will arguably remain so for the foreseeable future. It seems on current evidence that they are happy to continue spinning their wheels without really challenging themselves or their audience, sooner or later they will have to decide what comes next, or the only head banging they will hear from here on out will the sound of their own heads bouncing off the glass ceiling above them.
Afterlife is available now via Better Noise.
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