The Juno award-winning Canadian hard rock unit took a five-year hiatus after 2010's Life Turns Electric, a break that saw the departure of longtime drummer Rich Beddoe. It also found Finger Eleven retooling their sound, which they decided to do in Music City, U.S.A., working out of the West Nashville home of producer Dave Cobb and enlisting seasoned session drummer Chris Powell, both of whom helped to strip away some of the finery that had begun to accumulate over the last two studio outings. The resulting Five Crooked Lines doesn't deviate too much from the band's post-grunge past, but it is built from more volatile stuff. That shift in tone from heavy gloss to raw power is made apparent within the first few seconds of opener "Gods of Speed," a dense and propulsive road-warrior anthem built around a galloping backbeat that threatens to explode into Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" at any given moment. That penchant for groove-laden stoner metal with a hint of flannel continues on the Sabbath-y "Save Your Breath" and the nervy, psych-tinged "Absolute Truth," but Finger Eleven have always been a basement band with family-room aspirations, and the tight, ever so slightly funky single "Wolves and Doors," the shoegaze-kissed party anthem "Blackout Song," and the final two tracks, both of which pair Beatleesque melodies with beefy, Torche-inspired walls of distortion, feel as rooted in the cement and black light of urban, modern rock radio as they do the open highways of the Ontario wilds.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger