Sound — 9
The Way of the Fist is Five Finger Death Punch's debut album (released mid-2007 by Firm Records). Since it's release, FFDP's found itself on popular tours such as FVT and MayhemFest (speaking from personal experience, they sound just as epic live). Some of the band's popularity may be attributed to the 'The Bleeding' single which hit top 40 upon it's release a couple months before their album. The Way of the Fist has a somewhat distinct musical style, even for groove metal (which tends to come rather monotonous at times), employing heavy palm-muting to make quick, staccato notes amidst the catchy, groovy chugging. Their songs are mostly Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus. Unfortunately, because this style is so heavy throughout the album, their songs tend to run together. However, TWotF has produced some good tracks that can be thoroughly enjoyed depending on the listener's taste. Ashes: FFDP's most metalcore-styled song with the usual palm-mute-to-un-palm-muted-note-lather-rinse-repeat technique. This is most noticeable in the main riff which is admittedly rather good. It's Verse-Chorus business as usual with this song with a good, fitting solo. Unlike most of the album, Moody's melodic vocals are rather good and none of the lyrics in this song are awkward or too nu-metal-ish. This track is what got me hooked to the band. 10/10. The Way of the Fist: A rather awesome song with a quick, palm-mutey intro that's rather catchy. The opening solo is actually rather bad-sounding and annoying. It's good to note that FFDP uses the same overdriven tone for all their solos and lead guitar for the choruses (that isn't bad but somewhat mediocre). The riff that first plays a minute and ten seconds in is one of the best on the album. Extremely catchy with some awesome vocal-work by Moody to top it all off. The chorus sounds somewhat unfitting with nothing special vocal-wise. Lots of 'f--kin'''s in this song to please the crowd. Second and third solos (essentially parallel most of the way through) are quite good. The outro leaves you with a good sense of completion. 9/10. Salvation: An awesome track that you may not like on the first listen. The lyric choice is epic and the chorus is enjoyable, with a nice solo-like guitar and good vocals. Sounds like a bit of an attack on religion, though of course that's half-minded speculation. The main riff in the intro sounds like it would've been better played twice. Chorus lead guitar in the outro was a great way to end it. One of TWotF's better tracks. 10/10. The Bleeding: Likely FFDP's most popular song. A good song all around. The clean guitar in the intro caught my attention. Constructively, I can't find much wrong with the song. The intro solo is impressive and fitting. The riff when the vocals come in is really catchy and rather meaty. Lyrics and vocals are great though they seem somehow cliche. Regardless, they're a five-star job on Moody's part. 10/10. A Place to Die: Easily the worst track on the album. Annoying intro riff and annoying lyrics. Incredibly stupid chorus with incredibly stupid lyrics and vocals to match. The bridge is the best part and it's not enough to make me listen to this awkward song enough to enjoy it like the rest of the album. What sounds like the solo isn't terrible and matches the vocals but it can get repetitive-sounding. 5/10. The Devil's Own: Nu-metal-like lyrics but quite good regardless. Main Riff is too palm-muted it seems but still catchy. The pre-chorus brings the song together with quite awesome guitar-work. The drums do nothing really impressive. Mostly hi-hat/straight-double-bassing. The bridge is rather enjoyable and head-bangable which says something about the band considering that most bands' bridges are the low-points of the songs. Epic ending. 10/10. White Knuckles: One of FFDP's best. Catchy groove riffs all the way through, even during the melodic chorus. Most of the riffs are structured around a quick, descending chromatic palm-muted half-measure. The lyrics are far from awkward in this song; it's mostly brutal fight-worthy material you can't help but love. Halfway through the song (after the second chorus, of course) is a mosh-worthy bridge where the guitars do a build-up with palm-muted open-notes and break into a chuggy riff similar to the aforementioned half-measure. A real headbanger. The highlight of the whole album in my opinion. Right after is an impressive, fast solo (like most of their songs, to the chorus's rhythm guitar) which ends going into another pre-chorus. A great track. 10/10. Can't Heal You: For FFDP's most unusually-structured song, it can actually put you to sleep. No, they can't heal you and they definitely can't keep you awake. But regardless of the sleep-inducing lead guitar work throughout most of the song, it's not a terrible track. The pre-chorus is the highlight of the song (it involves some interesting dual vocal tracking and noticeably cool riffage). Solo isn't impressive. Pre-chorus takes the cake though. 8/10. Death Before Dishonor: The drums and intro riff are rather good. Another ass-kicking-inspired song it seems. The chorus involves a typically awkward choice of lyrics and I don't like how the vocals sound as it is anyway though the 'WITH MY DIGNITY' the choruses end with sounds rather awesome and leads to an epic bridge with a catchy palm-muted riff and a complete-feeling outro. The china and guitar in the bridge were epic work on FFDP's part. The choruses of 'Bury me~' before the last 'WITH MY DIGNITY' were choice. Fairly good track. 9/10. Meet the Monster: Their halloween-ish track. Couldn't be more fitting of Moody to be the monster in a horror movie after this song. However, though the riffage is good throughout, the drums can start to induce some annoyance with the slow, repetitive hi-hat that never seems to stop. The drums after the pre-chorus are rather groovy, but that's the limit. On top of that, the lyrics in the pre-chorus are rather awkward and stupid with lines such as 'Can you read between the lines? /Or are you stuck in black and white? ' or 'Well there's nothing you can say to me now/And there's nothing you can do to stop me'. Strangely enough, the lyrics in the verse don't change while the ones in the pre-chorus do. The bridge is hit-or-miss. It has an awkward pause in the drums I can't weigh whether I liked or not. The china in the outro was good. The strangely halloween-ish main riff is what I liked the most, likely. I'm inclined to give this track a 7 but I'll give it an 8 for the sake of having enjoyed the song for a long while. 8/10. The Bleeding (Unplugged): Acoustic version of The Bleeding? Ugh. No. Just no. The vocals sound incredibly stupid and I could do without the acoustic guitars doing almost the same thing as the original. There was no variety there. 4/10. Hate Me: Oh yes. Need I explain why this track is so wonderful? Such a cliche metal song lyric and riff-wise. Yes, cliche but oh, so good. Even as this song is so musically sloppy and nu-metal-like, anybody can enjoy this chunky track available on the limited edition like the Unplugged version of The Bleeding. The solo goes awkwardly chromatic in the latter third. If only the drums sounded less low-quality and the solo was in key. Also, the tritone use in the main riff/pre-chorus is strangely clean-sounding. There was a time in my (musical and personal) life when I could've really appreciated this song to it's fullest. Evidently Moody drew lyrical style from Motograter (a defunct nu-metal band Moody fronted in the past). 10/10. Never Enough: A lyrically-awkward track from the re-release of the album. Even amongst the mediocre riffage and angsty lyrics, this track (previously a single) can still be enjoyed - especially during the epic Lamb of God-like bridge. Yes, Moody's still yelling about hating people in this song but it's still a pleasing track regardless. For the epic bridge this song gets... 9/10. Stranger Than Fiction: What? This doesn't sound like FFDP. Also on the re-release and also previously a single, this track rather reminds me of a later In Flames; more specifically in the StYE generation. While I can't say much about this song, I have to admit that the guitar is quite impressive all the way through even though I HATE the clean intro and outro - guitar, lyrics, vocals and all. Because of that, I have to knock it down a point. 9/10. Overall: 9.3
Lyrics — 9
Ivan Moody, who I'm familiar with due to his fronting of Motograter and Ghost Machine, is quite the vocalist, doing a vocal range of thrashy to melodic (which reminded me of Threat Signal's Jon Howard due to his somehow naturaly twelve+ singing voices). Most groove metal doesn't feature melodic vocals and most metalcore does, but FFDP doesn't touch upon metalcore too much with TWotF. Actually, it's much closer to nu metal acts lyrically. Vocally, it's rather befitting the genre (where I'm reminded of later groove metal acts such as DevilDriver or Lamb of God). He's one of my favorite vocalists now though admittedly he has yet to really blow me away with any of his releases.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, the best songs from this album are Ashes, Salvation, The Bleeding, and White Knuckles. I'm reminded somewhat of Machine Head and early Disturbed. TWotF has become one of my favorite albums and FFDP is now my second favorite band. I don't particularly like the fact that the bass is practically non-existant even if it's typical of groove metal artists to make that so. I'm expecting much from this band (especially in upcoming tours when I go to see them) in later releases which I pray will be soon as I have a bad habit of getting hooked on bands with one album released and never release any more. For those who love groove metal and nu metal, I highly recommend purchasing the latest version of this album.