On our last get-together to update the website, our editor-in-chief had this album playing when I entered the CW headquarters, quite on purpose as it would turn out, because the moment he noticed that I was hummin' along with the song at hand, he readily volunteered the info that this (picking up the CD from his desk and handing it over to me) was his newest “discovery”, and that, in fact, he wanted the album to get the best promotion possible...and was therefore handing its review over to me. Oh wait...he had this limited edition of the album, with a bonus disc, and I couldn't help but thinking out aloud, “Yeah, that way you get an even longer review, eh?”! Well, I decided that this would not be true this time around. You see, I decided to give the band's history but a short goin' over (a bit in contrast to my usual way of working), as I feel that any non-initiated party gotten interested by reading my “synopsis” will certainly go read the full story at Wikipedia from which I culled the necessities for my review.
So, the history of Heavy Metal band Five Finger Death Punch (shortened to FFDP below), “in short”. The band's foundation came from former U.P.O. bassist Zoltan Bathory getting together with drummer Jeremy Spencer in Los Angeles during 2005, taking the FFDP name from classic martial arts movies. With Bathory opting to play the guitar, the founding duo recruited bassist Matt Snell, and started recording demo material which Bathory then sent off to Ivan Moody, with hopes of convincing him to become the band's singer. Moody consented, and flew over from his home in Denver (Colorado) to record the material of the band's debut album The Way Of The Fist. There's an inconsistency in the Wikipedia story about the position of lead guitarist in the band. According to the story, the search for second guitarist would only have started after recordings' finishing, the task being deliberated to one Caleb Bingham (whom stayed long enough to play some shows with the band), whom was subsequently replaced by Darrell Roberts (he, in turn, would be supplanted by current lead guitarist Jason Hook in 2009), but in the data at the bottom of the page, it is stated that all of that (the entry of the second guitarist, as well as the recruitment of the bassist) happened in the band's formation year 2005!
Whatever...the band's debut album was released on July 31, 2007, and was an immediate success, entering the Billboard 200 at #199 (no that bad for a new band), and eventually being certified Gold in 2011. Promotion of the album was done at a high level from the beginning too, FFDP tagging along with Korn on two consecutive tours in 2007, and with Disturbed in Spring 2008. The album was re-released in May 2008, with 3 bonus tracks, Spinefarm Records taking care of the release in Canada (Nov. 2008) and Europe (Jan. 2009). Jan. 2009 also meant the replacement of Roberts by Hook. The band ended the live promotion of their debut album playing the main stage at the 2009 Download festival (UK). Not bad eh, for a beginning band? But thing would only get better still!
Because the band's 2009 sophomore album War Is The Answer would enter the Billboard 200 at #7, and getting a Gold status before the debut. This time, the band did a headline tour to promote their new album, first touring the US with main support from Shadows Fall, and then hopping over to Europe (main support again from Shadows Fall), ending the tour with a run of shows in the UK. In March 2010 the band traveled to Iraq to play 10 shows for the US troops there, and then entered the season of festival touring, playing again at Download. Spicy detail : as the band was traveling from the UK to Germany (where they were scheduled to play at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park), Bathory, Snell and Spencer were detained by German police for alleged international weapons violations, but released after it was understood that the charges were false...and the band was able to play the two festivals as scheduled. The band then went on to play the main stage of the traveling Mayhem Festival 2010 (with Korn, Rob Zombie and Lamb Of God) during July and August, perform at the popular Jimmy Kimmel Live show of August 17, and supporting Godsmack on that band's The Oracle 2010 tour from October 3 to November 4. That same month, the band's song “Dying Breed” was featured on the soundtrack for Namco Bandai Games' remake of Splatterhouse.
November 2010 was also when the band started the recordings of their third album American Capitalist (produced, as its predecessor, by Kevin Churko – worked, among others, with Ozzy Osbourne in the past), which was released in October 2011. In between (April 2011) the band announced Snell's departure from the band in Dec. 2010, and (June 2011) his replacement by current bassist Chris Kael. For the info on the band's live promotion of the band, please consult their page on Wikipedia...I wanna get down to the current album now, see!?
It was announced in February 2013, that FFDP were working (again with Churko) on their new album...and on May 1 they gave out another announcement, stating that they had written and recorded enough material for two consecutive albums, which would both see the light of day in 2013, the “Volume 2” of the recordings to be released later in the year. Meanwhile, the album already debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with over 112,000 copies sold in its first week, making it the band's best-selling album thus far. Yeah, it would seem “The American Dream” is still alive, and there's still possibilities to “make it big” in the US...even as a Heavy Metal band. About that...the music, that is...FFDP itself declares bands such as Alice In Chains, Coal Chamber, Fear Factory, GWAR, Korn, Metallica, Mudvayne, Pantera, Powerman 5000, Sepultura, Sevendust, Shootyz Groove, Slayer, Soundgarden, Tool and W.A.S.P. (in alphabetical order, and not in order of importance) as its musical influences, and the band's sound is widely regarded as Heavy Metal, Alternative Metal, Thrash Metal, Groove Metal, and in some cases Nu-Metal, although the latter is often disputed. Personally, I feel there's grounds for including the latter as well, albeit always in an hybrid form with one or more of the others. Indeed, the band apparently is not as restricted in its use of its influences, as some critics (and fans, I gather) would like to have it stated! At any rate, the hybridisation makes for a very catchy whole, and the band makes sure there's diversity on the album by incorporating a semi-ballad in the form of “M.I.N.E. (End This Way)”, doin' a rap on the song “Mama Said Knock You Out”, or the wacky spoken word “Diary Of A Madman”.
As we're talking about the vocals now, Moody has a wacky raspy voice, which he can use in a very melodic (and “clean”) way nevertheless. He's occasionally backed up by clean vocals by one of more of the other guys and, on this album, by a couple of other singers guesting on the album, these including Rob Halford (Judas Priest) on the albums opening track “Lift Me Up”, Maria Brink (of ) in the track “Anywhere But Here”. I'm guessing the “regular” album will also include the 3 bonus tracks, as their vocal contributors are mentioned in the booklet, see? So, you get Max Cavalera (Soufly) contributing to a “remake” of the album's track “I.M.Sin”, Maria Brink extending her contribution on “Anywhere But Here” to a duet, and Jamey Jasta ( ) adding his vocal abilities to “Dot Your Eyes”.
For audio/ video on the band, consult (www.) fivefingerdeathpunch.com, or the band's pages on facebook or MySpace (links found on FDP's own website). Oh...and about the bonus disc of this limited edition, right? Well, it's a live album subtitled Purgatory (Tales From The Cript), containing a typical show of the band in Nashville (but don't ask me whén it was recorded) with 13 songs (all off older material) plus an intro and drum solo...and the band's usual banter with the audience. I guess you must've either been there, or heard a live recording to fully understand what that means, and I'm not gonna divulge this little detail, for once! I'll say this though: there's an awful amount of using the “f” word (also preceded by the word “mother”) and other kinds of disrespect which I do not like (like the band's obvious sympathies of their country's capitalist system and the way their army go “make peace” in places far away from home soil) and this costs the band some points in the rating!