Review Summary: Better than Volume 1, but still not without drawbacks.
Five Finger Death Punch decided to take the path of multiple bands in the past year and put out a double album. Unlike these bands, it did not start out strong. Volume 1 of 'The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell' was simple, profanity laced, structured and repetitive. Expectations were not that high going into Volume 2 of this release. That was appropriate for a large part of this release.
Here to Die starts off the record, and it isn't that strong. The awful lyrics that plagued Volume 1 remain, as the song shines instrumentally, guitars being the star here. However, there is a structure of screaming verses, clean choruses. All of what is in Here to Die pan out in the next two tracks, Weight Beneath My Sin and Wrecking Ball. In the former, the highlight is an interesting double bass pattern, as it is 'backwards' according to the drummer Jeremy Spencer. In the latter, the lyrics are as bad as ever. Basically laughable and juvenile as ever:
"Nice Boots, cheap suits..."
"I'm a motherf---ing wrecking ball..."
"Take down, ground and pound..."
Next, Battle Born, the lead single. Only two words can really sum it up; overplayed and overhyped. While it is a good ballad, after the first week of hearing it at least once a day, it got old. The following track, Cradle to the Grave, makes up for all the monotonous songs so far. Some of the best guitar work on the album can be found on this track. There are even audible backup vocals from the bassist. It seems all is starting to turn out okay, but there is always a letdown...
Matter of Time is what brought this record to its lowest point. It begins as a very heavy song, but then it veers off into the opposite direction, into Nu-Metal territory. The rap-like verses are just awful. As if The Pride wasn't bad enough sounding like the Pokérap. The only thing half decent about this song is the breakdown, but then the solo is rehashed from Bad Company. If anything, this song is forgettable. The first half of the album ends on a sour note.
The second half of the album kicks the first half to the curb. It starts with the melodic interlude The Agony of Regret, which slowly adds parts to it and builds into Cold. Starting with a piano and going along, this is a high point for the album. However, Cold has a drawback that could potentially ruin any listen: it's a remake. Vocalist Ivan Moody had a band, The Black Blood Orchestra, who had originally composed the piece. It's hard to believe that one of the best songs on the album wasn't really original at all. After Cold, Let This Go kicks in as the last fast and heavy song. With an intro similar to Matter of Time and also a direction shifter. Thankfully though, not into the dark hole that is Nu-Metal, for the song weaves from quiet to heavy to melodic, which really balances it out. Things continue on a high path as My Heart Lied begins to play. Slow, but hammering drums start off the song, and it simmers until a powerful chorus begins. Unfortunately, the song does get repetitive, but it doesn't take away too much from it.
A Day in My Life comes next, with a mid tempo beat throughout. There are nice drum fills in the song, and it really flows well. The riff is extremely simple and generic, but the guitar solo in this song demonstrates both melody and then some fast playing in the final moments of the solo. To close the record (unless if it is the Japanese Edition), Death Punch covered The Animals' own, House of the Rising Sun. They change the tempo from 3/8 to 4/4, New Orleans is now Sin City (probably because of a) the background of the band members, and/or b) Heaven and Hell, sinning, it's obvious), and there are now guitar solos. They made this cover almost seem original, ending on a high note (like Diary of a Deadman on Volume 1, if there weren't the rehashed bonus tracks).
If the Japanese edition is in question, though, the album closes with an obnoxious remix of Burn MF, featuring Rob Zombie. Surprisingly enough, not one 'yeah' was uttered by Mr. Zombie. This song probably shouldn't have been released though, as it does nothing to add to the record, or the original song.
Lyrically, vocally, structurally, and tempo wise, this is nothing new from Death Punch. But as the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." From how things are going, it's not very likely that they will be changing anything about themselves anytime soon.
-Cradle to to Grave
-The Agony of Regret/Cold
-My Heart Lied
-A Day in My Life
-House of the Rising Sun