What we have here is the rare case of when a band takes the elements of what make them best from their debut album, and on their next attempt, create a masterpiece. From my experienced listens, generally a band will make a stunning debut, then on the next release either experiment too much, capitalize on all the wrong aspects of the debut, or decide that the previous release was too good and they don't want to ruin its legacy by trying to do the same album over. After a few years the band is either in a new place that works well for them, or they realize that they need to return to their old sound. Not so with Five Finger Death Punch.
The band's debut, Way of the Fist, was a modern metal hardcore ride. It was right in your face, and that is what the band wanted. However in between this and War is the Answer, they must have realized that even though heaviness was the name of the game, what Five Finger Death Punch really had going for them was melody and the use of clean vocals. So, they put that to extended use on War is the Answer while still incorporating their hardcore edge. And it worked spectacularly.
The opener "Dying Breed," is directly in the listener's face, just like "Ashes" was on Way of the Fist. However, from that point on, out of the full 13 tracks, there's only maybe 4 that sound like this. The rest are much more melodic, even slow, while making use of the clean singing the vocalist does so well, as well as the guitar melodies. Stand out tracks like "My Own Hell" and "No One Gets Left Behind" are stellar showcases of how the band can blend heavy with the beautiful. Other tracks like "Far From Home" and "Walk Away" sacrifice the modern metal sound for a more hard melodic rock taste with the vocals all sung instead of screamed. Overall, this creates a much stronger impact on the listener by introducing the variety that was missing on Way of the Fist.
Another great step-up from Way of the Fist to War is the Answer is the lyric content. In the past the lyrics held a strong fuck you/woe is me attitude. That attitude is still here, but it's actually put to use towards, not only parents or people in general for misunderstanding, but towards politicians, ex girlfriends, and other things that a much more wide variety of people can relate to. Lyrics like "I'm sorry for the demon I've become/ You should be sorry for the angel you are not/ I apologize for the cruel things that I did/ But I don't regret a single word I said" (Walk Away) ring true with the listener a lot better than "Deserve it, you've earned it/ You've got yourself a fucking war/ Believe it, you need it/ Face down on the fucking floor" (The Way of the Fist).
It's good to see a band that can please both sides of the music community. War is the Answer certainly will appeal to hard rock and metal fans just as much as those looking for something a little slower and full of meaning than the stereotypical angry sound. Hopefully the band will keep this balance for a long time.