Released on May 18th of this year, time was needed to fully digest and pick apart Five Finger Death Punch’s seventh studio album And Justice for None. It’s no secret that the Las Vegas heavy metal band have always been a topic of controversy, even amongst their fans, leading to mixed reviews about the direction their latest album has taken. After sifting through a few online articles expressing disappointment for And Justice for None, I wanted to write something that gives the album the justice it deserves. Something that should be taken into account about And Justice for None, is that it was written about eighteen months prior to its release when the band were trapped in many uphill battles. Between a lawsuit battle and lead singer Ivan Moody’s own personal battles, Five Finger Death Punch have gathered these emotions and turned them into the beautiful, angry, awesome tracks that make up And Justice for None. Whilst I appreciate that not every track on the album hits its mark, the overall experience of listening to And Justice for None is a reminder of why, despite everything that has been thrown at them, Five Finger Death Punch continue to dominate the rock scene. Below are four of the stand out songs from the deluxe version of the album because when it comes to Five Finger Death Punch it’s all or nothing.
Top of the World
The unrelenting, fast paced ‘Top of the World’ throws you into the chaos of And Justice for None and is a summary of the entirety of the album. Simple, quick cut lyrics delivered in Ivan’s iconic growl lay out the truth of celebrity culture, the way in which artists can become nothing but a product to be judged and ridiculed. The line ‘one day you need me, the other you hate’ highlights how quick fans and critics can be to dismiss musicians, forgetting that music is not just something to be sold but something that comes with honest emotion. Coupled with ‘we’ve all got problems, I can fucking relate’, opens up ‘Top of the World’ to be related to any situation and gives fans a chance to connect and try to understand the feelings fuelling the song.
‘Sham Pain’ stands out from other songs on And Justice for None through its diversity in sound and being made up of lyrics that drawn you in from the song’s first breath. Some critics have attributed ‘Sham Pain’ to be about the band slating fans which would be justified by how some choose to show their “support”, however multiple listens have deduced that the song is more an exploration of how the music industry and labels treat musicians. Other reviewers have labelled Five Finger Death Punch’s more recent music as “angsty” but I argue they are only modernising their sound to appeal to a more contemporary audience. Whilst rock has always been about the gritty and grisly, Five Finger Death Punch have managed to maintain a classic rock vibe but produce music dealing with the pressures a fast-paced life can put on your mental health and ‘Sham Pain’ is such a song.
The first ballad to appear on And Justice for None, ‘I Refuse’ is a classic Five Finger Death Punch slow down, a break in the album from all the anger and spitting to showcase the band’s talent at diversity. ‘I Refuse’ harkens back to older Five Finger Death Punch songs like ‘Remember Everything’, the narrator completely laying himself out in a heart wrenching honesty that soars through an arrangement of piano keys and an acoustic solo that seamlessly ties the song together. Unlike other songs on the album ‘I Refuse’ targets no one in particular, but instead is a song about self-reflection and a call for help when it seems no one is listening. ‘I Refuse’ expresses fears we all have and our reluctance to express them for fear of being judged.
Save Your Breath
‘Save Your Breath’ is a slightly unexpected but welcome closer that has a completely infectious chorus. The verses of the song are delivered in a clipped manner whilst the chorus is drawn out and gives off a rock opera vibe. ‘Save Your Breath’ seems to be a song about not wasting your breath on apologies for past mistakes because no one will listen and will continue to judge you anyway. Despite returning to more macabre imagery, the song is surprisingly uplifting by how it seems to encourage you to rely on yourself more than others. It’s a fitting closer to And Justice for None due to how it repeats ‘no one is listening’, almost as if calling out those who judge Five Finger Death Punch’s music without really listening to what the song has to say. Perhaps it’s a message from the band that they are done trying to explain themselves but will move forward focussing more on the music they want to create and not what they believe is expected of them.
Overall, And Justice for None is an album of two halves; one side an angry, hurt expression of the pressures the world and media can create whilst the other is a reflection and promise to fans that the band will continue to fight through everything to produce music. And Justice for None is a stripped back, honest album with other songs like ‘When the Seasons Change’ being like a follow on to ‘I Refuse’ by how it’s about someone who can see through your disguise and the want to do everything you can to make them proud. And Justice for None also includes covers of Kenny Wayne’s ‘Blue on Black’ and The Offspring’s ‘Gone Away’, reimaging both songs in true Five Finger Death Punch style.
Review by Skye W. Winwood