Released: 2013, Eleven Seven Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
The double album has made a somewhat surprising return to popularity of late, with everyone from Stone Sour to Biffy Clyro to Jamie Lenman releasing doubles this year alone. The binding factor in each of the aforementioned has been a concept of some sorts, an overarching link which created a connection between the two albums.
Los Angeles bruisers FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH dispensed with such grandiose ideas, and released a double album simply because they refused to cut any of the two dozen or so songs they had crafted, and challenged their record company to try and do so. Of course they couldn't, and 'The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Part 1' was duly released in July of this year, to much critical and general acclaim. Five months later, Part 2 was released.
The most immediate difference between the two albums (apart from differing colours) is a lack of duets or guest vocals on Part 2. Perhaps the band thought it would be too much of a gimmick? Anyway, what remains is twelve tracks of pure FFDP; an enticing prospect, indeed.
The album starts as it undoubtedly means to go on, with FFDP's trademark flurry of buzzsaw riffs, urgent drums and rage-filled lyrics. Witness the first line from opening track 'Here to Die': "this wasn't meant to be a love song, matter of fact this one's about hate", spits the inimitable Mr. Moody. Well, quite. The song clearly refers to a destructive, now broken relationship, something which has provided fodder for songs before (most notably in 'The Bleeding'). It's a promising start as it rattles and snarls along nicely.
As the album progresses, a pattern begins to emerge: Part 2's 'hook'. And it's this: the songs are all intensely personal, intensely self-analysing on the part of (one presumes) Mr. Moody. Yes, this is hardly a new phenomenon - the band have never shied away from confronting some fairly brutal, uncomfortable subjects - but this time around, it seems like every song tackles the issues and memories inside Moody's mind. Thus we hear more tales of his neglectful, unhappy childhood in 'Weight Beneath My Sin' (surely a venomously clever reimagining of uplifting song title 'Wind Beneath My Wings'), the savagely self-descriptive 'Wrecking Ball', with its machine-gun drumming and staccato vocal delivery, and the piano-led unofficial flipside to the title track on Part 1, the rather maudlin 'Cold' ("my heart is an endless winter"). Moody also touches on the perils of fame, the road and success in balladic lead single 'Battle Born' and the rather bitter 'A Day In My Life'.
The songs are surprisingly introspective and seem to indicate a (dare one say it) maturing of the band, Moody in particular. For every doofy 'knucklehead' number on Part 1 ('Mama Said Knock You Out', 'Dot Your Eyes'), on Part 2 there are more than an equal amount of these more emotional and (hopefully!) cathartic numbers.
The downside to this is, although every track is well written and the band play their socks off, there is no real standout track - this time it's more filler than killer, if you will. The closest thing is 'Matter of Time', a fingers-up rallying call to every black sheep, freak and outsider who may be listening. Its explosive intro, groove-laden melody and fesity guitar solo are the clearest evidence on this album of the band's growth in stature, ability and confidence.
At the other end of the scale is the frankly baffling cover of The Animals' 'House of the Rising Sun'. It's panpiped (!!!) intro and ominously intoned, almost spoken vocals render it as almost unrecognisable from the original, which would be perfectly acceptable if they had improves on it, but...yeah. Perhaps the lyrics resonated with Ivan??? Never mind...
The advantage of releasing a double album without a concept is there's no pesky loose ends to tie together, no need to provide a connection between the two releases. The disadvantage is having to create two albums that stand as strong as each other spereately as well as together. FFDP have stumbled on this, but not fallen altogether: Part 2 is a great album on its own, absolutely. But with Part 1 being such a belter, Part 2 needed to be equally stunning to be compared favourably. And it isn't. Almost, but not quite.
Review by Melanie Brehaut