Five Finger Death Punch packs U.S. Bank Arena
By Alan Sculley
Photo: (l-r) James Hook, Ivan Moody, Chris Kael, Zoltan Bathory, and Jeremy Spencer of Five Finger Death Punch
Five Finger Death Punch may have surprised some fans with how quickly the band returned with its latest album, Got Your Six, which was released last September.
Five Finger Death Punch was coming off the bold move of recording two albums during the same session and then releasing them in quick succession. The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 was released July 30, 2013, and The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2 followed that November.
Add in the touring the band did in support of those two albums, and no one would have blamed Five Finger Death Punch if the group had taken a breather and not targeted a new album until this year, or even later.
Instead, Got Your Six arrived 22 months after The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2—a shorter interval than most music acts manage even making single albums.
It turns out that rather than wearing out Five Finger Death Punch, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell albums lit a fire that kept burning right through touring.
Guitarist Zoltan Bathory says some in the industry thought a double album was a risk. Instead, the two volumes each went gold, and this triumph only fueled the enthusiasm and creativity to return to the studio and make Got Your Six.
“We did that double record and it was really successful,” Bathory says. “We are not shocked because we know our audience is really loyal. But it feels good. And we came home from this huge arena tour that was really successful. The double record was very successful. So, when you have that energy and when you have that high off of that success, we went into the studio pretty much just swinging. We were like, ‘Oh yeah, let’s do another record.’ I think that energy definitely shows on the record (Got Your Six).”
These successes (Got Your Six debuted at No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s album chart with first-week sales of 119,000 copies) have only solidified Five Finger Death Punch’s place as one of the very few newer heavy metal/hard rock bands capable of headlining arenas and other large venues.
The rise to the front ranks of metal has happened in a fairly short time. Formed in Las Vegas in 2005, Five Finger Death Punch has been on a steady upward path since releasing its debut album, The Way of the Fist, in 2007.
Two years of touring followed before the debut album was re-released in 2008. By then the band—which includes Bathory, vocalist Ivan Moody, drummer Jeremy Spencer, guitarist Jason Hook, and bassist Chris Kael—had gained enough popularity that its second album, War Is The Answer, debuted in May 2009 at No. 7 on Billboard magazine’s album chart.
The third album, American Capitalist, arrived in 2011 and debuted at No.3 on Billboard’s album chart. This paved the way for the pair of 2013 albums, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volumes 1 and 2, to each debut at No. 2 on the album chart and together sell more than one million copies.
There’s been nothing mystical or magical about Five Finger Death Punch’s career path, according to Bathory.
“We are successful because we are banging out record after record in the states and we stay 300 days out on the road,” he says. “This band is like we’re just going to work harder than anyone else, you know. That’s the key, understanding it’s always going to be about the songs, first and foremost. You have to write good songs and just work harder and work more and outwork everybody else.”
Got Your Six has at least sustained—and maybe ramped up—Five Finger Death Punch’s momentum. It’s a hard-hitting album devoid of ballads, featuring songs like “My Nemesis,” “Wash It All Away,” and “Question Everything” that pack a punch, but also features inviting melodies. Meanwhile, a few songs, such “Jekyll and Hyde” and the title track, go even harder and heavier, with cookie monster vocals, grinding riffs, and pummeling beats.
Bathory says Five Finger Death Punch is bringing out a big visual show, knowing it takes more than just playing the songs to turn a concert into the kind of memorable experience the group wants to give its fans.
“We always have been the band that tried to push the envelope,” he says. “We’ve always reached to the edges of what we can do, regardless of how much it pissed off our accountant. We always built a bigger stage, more lights, more this, more that. And we did that from the beginning because we were influenced by the bands that had done it, the Iron Maidens to the Rammsteins. Music is a tribal experience. Live music is, still, it’s out there, and people come out to the shows [because] it’s still special. It’s an experience you can’t download.”
Five Finger Death Punch hits the stage Thursday, Nov. 17 at U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St. in Cincinnati. Shinedown opens. Ticket cost starts at $40.75. For more information, please visit FiveFingerDeathPunch.com.