Review Summary: Justice is lost! Justice is raped! Justice is done!
There may have been a time in which Five Finger Death Punch weren’t the posterboys of mediocre songwriting and utterly retarded lyrics in the modern metal landscape, but I’ve simply never seen that time. Ever since their laughably bad debut album The Way of the Fist
, these five numbnuts have essentially filled the void of juvenile metal angst after nu-metal lost its relevance in popular music. And why wouldn’t they? I’ve been saying this for years: Five Finger Death Punch are basically a shit-tier nu-metal band thinly disguised as a traditional heavy metal act. Beneath the camouflage of halfway-decent solos and aggressive pseudo-thrash riffage lies a generic groove metal sound that’s only gotten more boring and forced with every successive record. And yet, somehow, And Justice for None
actually captures the band at their very worst… and that’s no small feat, of course.
In fact, the opening track immediately smacks you in the face with how little the band tries to be original or interesting. The lowest strings on the electric guitar are abused incessantly, mostly revolving around a dull B-note chug that you swear you’ve heard from any faceless modern thrash outfit. So is there anything of note on this track? Yes! That would be the fact that Ivan Moody’s lyrics have somehow gotten worse
than before. The entire chorus is him calling his foes and haters “fake motherfuckers” ad nauseum, delivered in the most cringy “gruff” delivery one can imagine. It’s painful to listen to, and makes Phil Anselmo and Corey Taylor’s macho posturing much more bearable by comparison. “Fake” is definitely a chilling vision of things to come, and the rest of the album basically follows suit. “Sham Pain” is a desperate bid for airplay, opting for a grating attempt at a power ballad while delivering some irritating “spoken word” passages that don’t even fit the tone of the chorus. This song and “Blue on Black” also have some of the worst production values on the entire record; that is to say, they’re way too polished and clean. These songs might be ballads, sure, but the level of gloss has robbed them of any real power when the intended emotional highs hit. The general plasticity (if that’s the correct word) of “Blue on Black” made me feel like I was listening to a cheesy post-grunge single from the mid-2000s.
As for the rest of the metal output, it manages to be consistently dull throughout this 13-track affair. One thing you may notice when you’re listening to And Justice for None
is the constant, constant
abuse of chugging riffs in the key of “B.” The swinging rhythms that anchor said riffs in “Fire in the Hole” are just comical to listen to, and they don’t fit the meatheaded aggression in the slightest. And as if that wasn’t enough, the majority of “It Doesn’t Matter” revolves around generic one-note midtempo riffing; there’s not much happening on the treble end, so there’s nothing interesting to latch onto while Moody belts out his irritating belches. And that leads me to the next big issue with And Justice for None
: what is with the ridiculous amount of focus on Moody himself this time around? I know he’s always been a central focus, but Five Finger Death Punch always struck me as a more egalitarian group than a number of their peers. More often than not, this album just has a meaty low end without much in the way of interesting leads, so many of the supposed metal “bangers” end up just sounding hollow and empty. Combine that with the obnoxious amount of boring ballads (“Sham Pain,” “Blue on Black,” “I Refuse,” “When the Seasons Change,” “Stuck in my Ways,” “Gone Away,” and “Will the Sun Ever Rise” are all interchangeable ballads, marking 7 ballads on a 13-song album!), there’s not much room for the other members to shine - even guitarist Zoltan Bathory, who’s usually the highlight of any Five Finger Death Punch album.
An album like this must have been so easy to make. Copy some vaguely heavy and aggressive riffs from past efforts, couple them with generic ballads, add a new layer of macho posturing in the vocals and lyrics, put it over a semi-decent production job, and call it a day. Well y’know what? It’s a goddamn chore to sit through. You might be wondering why I even bothered reviewing this thing at all, but there’s a perfectly good reason: because I really want these guys to improve. Chalk it up to me being a sucker for some good traditional heavy metal, but it’s always nice to have a good reminder of where the genre started. There’s been such an onslaught of new subgenres and fusion genres crowding the metal world today, so I’m all for some back-to-basics, meat-and-potatoes metal with a punch and a groove. And that’s why Five Finger Death Punch are so frustrating: they have the potential to be a really nice throwback or a fun nostalgia trip, but they just don’t give a shit about expanding beyond their severely limited grasp of songwriting or lyrical ability. And judging by the quality of And Justice for None
, I don’t think they ever will. It’s just copy-paste. Copy-paste. Copy-paste. CTRL-P, CTRL-V. Rinse, repeat. Eject disc. Throw disc into dumpster. Good fucking riddance.