There’s no disputing that Five Finger Death Punch are one of the most popular and commercially successful hard rock/metal bands around today. All three of their previous albums have gone gold, moving more than half a million copies apiece. They have had numerous Top 10 rock singles, such as ‘Walk Away,’ ‘Far From Home,’ ‘Remember Everything’ and ‘Coming Down.’

They’re also a very successful touring band, currently co-headlining the 2013 Mayhem Festival. However, 5FDP are one of the more polarizing bands in rock music today, and that won’t change with their latest effort, ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1.’ It’s the first installment of a two-part album, with the other half due later this fall.

It has all the elements of previous 5FDP albums: crunchy riffs, a lot of melody and hooks, and Ivan Moody’s trademark angry vocals. It’s a formula that has worked very well for them, and if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. The album’s first single ‘Lift Me Up’ has already reached No. 1 on the Active Rock chart, and there are plenty of other potential hit singles on the album.

‘Lift Me Up’ features the 'Metal God' Rob Halford, and the album is packed with guest appearances. Five Finger Death Punch have reached the level where they aren’t overshadowed by anybody, and the big name guests only add to the appeal of ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven, Volume 1.’

An interesting thing they do is include two different versions of some of the songs with guest vocalists: one with them and one without. And in the case of ‘Anywhere But Here,’ one version “features” Maria Brink from In This Moment where she sings here and there, and the other version is a full-fledged duet.

When it comes to intensity, one person that has no problem matching Moody is ’s Jamey Jasta, who appears on ‘Dot Your Eyes.’ Meanwhile, Soulfy's Max Cavalera is another intense performer, lending his talents to ‘I.M. Sin.’

Moody shows his introspective side on ‘Diary of a Deadman’ with its spoken word parts. The song ebbs and flows with intensity and emotion. Guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook are showcased on the track, as well, with biting riffs and extended solos.

Five Finger Death Punch have done cover songs before, with ‘Bad Company’ being very successful. This time around they go way outside the box with L.L. Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out.’ Rapper Tech N9ne guests, and makes it clear how skilled he is at his genre, and that Moody has a bit of work to do on his rapping.

While there's never doubt that this is a 5FDP album, the disc is a diverse one, featuring more radio-friendly melodic songs like ‘Wrong Side of Heaven’ alongside intense metal tracks like ‘You.’ When it comes to lyrical depth, songs like ‘Burn M.F.’ leave a lot to be desired, but you’ll find yourself singing / chanting along after a single listen.

Like their past releases, ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1’ is straightforward, brash and unapologetic. And if you don’t like it, Five Finger Death Punch don’t care. They make it crystal clear on ‘Dot Your Eyes’ when they sing, “Could give a rat’s ass what you think about me.”

4 Stars