Taking their name from martial arts movies, founded by a guitarist who is also a Pentagon certified instructor and fighter, you would expect a certain brutality from U.S metal band Five Finger Death Punch. Now on their sixth studio album, Got Your Six, FFDP have released their most aggressive efforts to date.
With macabre Marvel style artwork, featuring an Hollywood take on Iron Maiden’s Eddie brandishing a baseball bat and a saw-edged blade, the tone is set for the kind of violent American dream played out in Got Your Six. Covering some standard bases with tracks like Boots and Blood, and This Is My War, FFDP don’t really stake out much new ground. There’s an undeniable fire and force behind the delivery but themes of regret, violence and the beast inside are lacking a real credibility.
All usually solid ground for a metal release, but lyrically FFDP aren’t strong enough to fill in the cracks. Building on angst and rebellion, piecing together whining cliches, there’s an adolescent tone to lines like “I’m such an outcast / You thought I’d never last “. And unfortunately the opening lyric to the album (title track Got Your Six) “I’m a fucking solider, just like I told ya”, is a little too close an R&B rhyme for comfort. The bottom line is that this is commercial metal, and Got Your Six completely delivers on that front – just don’t expect discerning metal fans to do much more than spit on these kind of bubblegum woes.
The same could probably be said in terms of FFDP’s musical efforts on Got Your Six. Produced by metal heavyweight Kevin Churko, every track is super tight and sings out exactly as you would wish. Barraging drums and upfront vocals, they even manage to work in original voicemails from Ivan Moody noting lyrics for Jekyll & Hyde. FFDP know their business when it comes to song writing, hitting the right paces and instrumentation. And to give them credit, Got Your Six does push out a few more boundaries than previous releases. Pushing through to new aggression with vocals and breakdowns, storming tracks like No Sudden Movement are probably the most successful. It occasionally feels like FFDP are flailing amongst too many styles; switching pace too quickly, though neatly, and guitar solos occasionally sound out of place – like an acoustic number in Question Everything. But standing alone they are great moments from guitarist Jason Hook.
There are some brave moments from Five Finger Death Punch on this record and it’s a well crafted release. But clearly working with what they know is their bread and butter, it feels like Got Your Six will always fall short of a really memorable album.