The slow shimmering of cymbals explode into a rhythmic medley of bass and fuzztone guitar. A voice hisses out a prophetic decree from the “Gods Of Speed” and we’re off! Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? This opening track would have fit in nicely, bulging with energy and a relentless groove. This was my first taste of Finger Eleven’s new album, Five Crooked Lines, due out on July 31. Now, I have no history as a Finger Eleven fan, only knowing the radio crushers “One Thing” and “Pulverizer,” but this certainly grabbed my attention. Little did I know what kind of ride I was embarking upon.
It has been 5 years since the group’s last album, Life Turns Electric. It isn’t surprising to me then how diverse their new release is, both musically and lyrically. In addition to the aforementioned adrenaline-pumping opener, they deliver two drinking or party songs, one track which brings a Book Of Revelations fire-and-brimstone atmosphere, and not to mention one on historical revisionists! It feels a lot less random, and is a lot more enjoyable, than it sounds. For starters, every song has a huge chorus, which I’m pretty sure will take over valuable synapses. Even the behemoth 7 1/2 minute track “Come On, Oblivion” is catchy. It builds out of a simple, yet effective bassline and continues to grow as it progresses. With its emotional outcries; its atmospheric, and sometimes watery guitar effects; as well as its intense subject matter, this easily is one of my favorites on the album.
The fellows in Finger Eleven are smart. Sometimes that gets downplayed in a few of their songs because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a bit of mindless fun? Occasionally that’s necessary. However, I’ve been amazingly enraptured by this four-piece, who have crafted such a diverse album that it keeps me entwined regardless of my changing mood. Lyrically, tracks like “Not Going To Be Afraid” and “Lost For Words” – another personal favorite – are intense and serious, while tunes like “Blackout Song” play to a much more carefree spirit. The title track comes in handy for those moments where we’re in need of something a little more apocryphal. You know, similar to when you’ve just come across someone who would benefit from taking a swim in a lake of fire, but you can’t quite remember the Bible verse. Five Crooked Lines is a splendid release by Finger Eleven, showing not only that they can hold their own on the radio, but that they know how to make a damn good album too.