Five Finger Death Punch
A working musician has the opportunity to see a lot of other bands. They are on the same bill or could even be local rivals. As time passes there can be a lot of crossbreeding as musicians try to dial in the right combination while pursuing greater creative freedom, a different outlet or to just be around people they can get along with. Who better to start a new group with than people you know (and hopefully admire)?
Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP) got going in '05 with Zoltan Bathory (great name - he was born in Hungary), a vet of the L.A. based post-Grunge group U.P.O., Ivan Moody, formerly of Santa Barbara's Nu Metal band Motograter (yes, there is a motograter - it's like a guitar with industrial cables) and W.A.S.P. guitarist Darrell Roberts. Of the three, W.A.S.P., in one configuration or another (the band started in '82) was the best known. Rounding out the line-up were bassist Matt Snell and drummer Jeremy Spencer.
FFDP recorded their debut "The Way Of The Fist" in '06 and it was released the following year by Firm Music, a subsidiary of The Firm, a management company that represented KoRn, Staind and Limp Bizkit. The set featured "The Bleeding" which did significant chart damage including a spot in the Active Rock Radio Top 10.
FFDP headlined the Guitar hero II second stage on the '07 Family Values Tour before they jumped into the Bitch We Have A Problem trek with KoRn and Hellyeah.
In early '09 they announced that Roberts had exited and was replaced by Jason Hook, who previously played with Alice Cooper and Vince Neil. According to a statement the split "was a mutual agreement between the band and Darrell . . . It was a swift and smooth transition and we all remain good friends."
Later that year, "War Is The Answer," FFDP's second studio album, made its debut at #7 on the Billboard 200. The set spawned several singles including "Hard To See" (a Top 10 Rock Radio hit), "Walk Away" and a cover of Bad Company's "Bad Company." Early in '10, the group played ten shows for U.S. troops in Iraq.
According to the RIAA, the band had the unique honor of having two albums go gold on the same day (4/15/11). The honors were for the band's debut, "The Way Of The Fist" and sophomore effort "War Is The Answer." "There are a lot of fans and industry folks who believe in this band and have been a huge factor in this achievement, and for that we are eternally grateful," said Deborah Klein, general manager of Prospect Park, the band's label.
With work on their third album underway, it was announced that bassist Matt Snell had departed and was replaced by Chris Kael. Produced by Kevin Churko and featuring the singles "Under And Over It" and "Back For More," Five Finger Death Punch issued "American Capitalist" in October, '11. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, selling 91,000 copies in its first week.
A song from the album, "Back For More" was included on the soundtrack for the video game Madden NFL 12 and was released as a digital single.
Coming off an extensive tour, Five Finger Death Punch headed back to the studio. "We jumped in head first and found ourselves 12-13 songs deep fairly quick but were still coming up with better and better material so we looked at each other and said... okay why stop there?... let's keep going," explained Bathory. With no desire to shelve half the tracks it became evident they had a double album.
"The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1" was the group's fourth studio effort. "Even though there is progression, this is our sound," Bathory told Metal Covenant.
The '13 set's lead single, "Lift Me Up," featured Judas Priest's Rob Halford. "First and foremost, just to work alongside an icon like Rob Halford, THE Metal God, was absolutely surreal," said Moody.
Of the song, Moody added, "If life dealt you all the wrong cards, you still have to play. The song's intent is to inspire; if you play that hand right you might just come out on top anyway."
Halford performed "Lift Me Up" with Five Finger Death Punch at the '13 Revolver Golden Gods awards ceremony.
"The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 1" debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 (behind Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines") selling 112,000 copies in its first week of release.
There is a price for everything, especially success. "After getting off the road from two years of touring I was physically and emotionally drained," said Moody. "It felt like I'd seen almost every inch of the globe and shook every hand there was to shake."
The experience served as the inspiration for "Battle Born," a song on "The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell: Volume 2."
"I completely lost track of time, the flights, the travel, the shows all seemed to blur together," continued Moody. "Even though I was doing what I'd dreamed of doing, it was exhausting."
"Volume 2" arrived in November '13 and did as good, on the charts, as its' predecessor.
Five Finger Death Punch rolled out their sixth studio offering "Got Your Six" in '15. The release coincided with the kick off of their tour with Papa Roach.
Moving 119,000 units in the first week, the album was the group's third consecutive #2 album on The Billboard 200.
But despite their success, Five Finger Death Punch was sued in '16 by their label, Prospect Park. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, stated: "The members of FFDP have unequivocally repudiated their contractual obligations to permit Prospect Park to determine the recording elements of a new record and a greatest hits record. In doing so, the members of FFDP are shamelessly attempting to cash in before the anticipated downfall of their addicted bandmate (Moody)." Of course, the group denied the charge and later inked a deal with Rise Records.
Still, just days before the suit was filed Moody was hospitalized in Denver (for an undisclosed reason) forcing the band to cancel Australian tour dates.
2007 The Way Of The Fist
2009 War Is the Answer
2011 American Capitalist
2013 The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
2013 The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 2
2015 Got Your Six
As the name implies, Five Finger Death Punch dwells on Metalcore's dark side. Pummeled verses give way to choruses that soar or at least rise above the sonic mire. It's standard operating procedure and FFDP can execute.
Lyrically, they're "sick and tired of the whole f*cking world" ("The Way Of The Fist") and have no stomach for placing faith in anything "that doesn't believe in me" ("Salvation").
There are nuanced changes from track to track but FFDP keep the din and roar going for as long as possible.