Having won a Juno award for Them vs. You vs. Me in 2008 and being nominated again for Life Turns Electric in 2011, expectations surrounding Ontario Canada rockers Finger Eleven’s new album were extremely high, which the band more than lives up to with Five Crooked Lines.
The album is the band’s first in 5 years and first for new label Bicycle Music. It is their 6th studio album, 7th if you include the album Letters From Chutney as Rainbow Butt Monkeys in their 25 year career.
Five Crooked Lines was produced by Dave Cobb, who recorded the album in a mere 11 days and mixed it all in just 4 more. It is also the band’s first album with new drummer Chris Powell, who was brought in at the last minute for the sessions and features a rather disturbing cover that depicts a hole in the sky.
Guitarist Rick Jackett summed it up best when he said, “If we’re gonna make a record, let’s make it fucking bad ass!” That attitude and approach to the music can be felt thought the 12 jaw dropping tracks that make up the album.
The bellicose riffing in “Gods of Speed” makes it instantly recognizable as a Finger Eleven song and gets things off to an explosive start. From there the fuzzy groove of “Criminal” mellows things out a bit, taking musical cues from Stoner Rock icons such as Sheavy, Big Elf and The Answer.
Tracks like “Save Your Breath” and “Absolute Truth” revisit the brutal heaviness of “Above” from their seminal debut Tip, while “Wolves And Doors” has a big radio friendly vibe similar to their smash hit “Paralyzer,” making it the obvious choice as lead single and video.
Elsewhere, title track “Five Crooked Lines” sounds enough like a Nickelback song that it will have you checking the liner notes to see if it was co-written by Chad Kroger and “Blackout Song” is a happy go lucky gem, kind of like “In The Meantime” by Space Hog,” with a chorus so catchy, you’ll be singing it in your head for days to come.
There are even subtle and not so subtle nods to British legends Pink Floyd in songs like “Lost for Words,” “A New Forever” and the epic “Come On, Oblivion,” which is not surprising as the album is their Dark Side Of The Moon. While “Not Going to Be Afraid” is a self empowering rally cry that should have the same crossover appeal and success as their monster hit “One Thing.”
Here’s the bottom line. Five Crooked Lines is a grandiose musical proclamation to the beauty of sound. 9 out of 10.