The heavier and louder a song by Five Finger Death Punch is, the better it is. This is a direct relationship; if you rank the songs on this album on a scale that starts at “several dudes got teeth knocked out in the pit” and ends at “several lighters were raised,” you’ve ranked the songs from best to worst on “War Is The Answer.”
That’s because Five Finger Death Punch is great at raging punk/metal diatribes, not so great at mid-tempo rockers, and terrible at ballads. Opener “Dying Breed” is a buzzsaw and a half, with the double-pedal at a frantic pace. The guitars charge, the screams muscle their way through the song with authority, and the guitars lead the way through a breakdown and a solo section. “Dying Breed” does show FFDP’s tendency toward uncreative sung choruses, but that’s the only thing to fault in the song. Everything else tears it up. This song rules.
Similarly, the anti-war (the album title is one hundred percent sarcasm) diatribe “No One Gets Left Behind” succeeds on chugging guitars, screams, and a really solid breakdown. The chorus is sung, but it’s not too terrible. It’s not that their sung choruses sound bad; they just don’t have the same creative pop as the rest of their work.
Their slower work takes that problem and magnifies it. This is very obviously a metal band, but the band spends a good section of the album not acting like one. “Far From Home” is an acoustic-led ballad that just sounds weird in the context of the album. “Crossing Over” and “Walk Away” are both mid-tempo rockers that seem more fit for the likes of Staind or Puddle of Mudd than a ferocious metal band that gives us the brutal guitars and vitriol of “Burn it Down.”
Five Finger Death Punch has some serious winners when they play metal. When they drop into chord-mashing alt-rocker mode for the other half of the album, things go haywire. If you’re a fan of their first album, you’ll enjoy this album. If you’re a first-timer, I’d vote for those who don’t like modern rock to stay home. Those okay with radio-friendly chordmashers will the slower tunes tolerable, but not the strongest tracks here.