Five Finger Death Punch are the breakout metal band of the last decade, thanks to their meld of cartoonish personas, radio friendly choruses, crunching riffs and unchecked aggression. To celebrate the Las Vegas band’s rise to the top, we present the A-Z of their career.
A is for… American Capitalist
FFDP’s third album American Capitalist debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at Number 3 on its release in 2011, their highest at the time, and was their mainstream breakthrough album thanks to songs like The Pride and Under And Over It, which have gone on to become staples in the bands live set.
B is for… Bad Company
FFDP have nailed several mean covers over the years, but they’ve never bettered their very first attempt. On their second record, 2009’s War Is The Answer, they decided to tackle 70s rockers Bad Company’s eponymous anthem, doing such a good job that they introduced the song and the band to a whole new generation.
C is for… Chris Kael
Since taking over from original bassist Matt Snell in 2010, Chris Kael has become one of the most recognisable faces in modern metal. He’s the massive dude with the dreadlocked beard that looks a bit like a squid. Unique looks aside, he also has a reputation for being one of the nicest people in metal, and, most importantly, his thunderous bass playing drives FFDP’s engine.
D is for… Defenders Of The Faith Tour
The UK took Five Finger Death Punch to their hearts almost immediately. the first time we got to see the band live was when they were still touring their first album The Way Of The Fist back in 2009 on the Defenders Of The Faith Tour. Opening for Lamb Of God, Dimmu Borgir and Unearth is no easy task, but they took it all in their stride and have been going only one way up the bill ever since.
E is for… Engen
Charlie Engen is the bands new drummer, officially announced as a full-time member in June of 2019. He had actually been discovered by his predecessor Jeremy Spencer on Instagram., he recommended the, then unknown, 33-year-old as his replacement. One listen to his performance on FFDP’s latest album suggest it was an astute signing. Which leads us to…
F is for… F8
The bands 2020 album is one that we here at Metal Hammer described as “The best of their career” in our 8/10 review. Full of their signature metal anthems, and a few sonic detours and surprises, band leader Zoltan Bathory himself has said that the record represents a “rebirth” for the band. No arguments here.
G is for… Got Your Six
Referring to a military term, meaning to cover the back of your fellow platoon members, the 6th Five Finger Death Punch album went straight in to the number 2 spot on the Billboard Top 200 upon its release in 2015. It sold over 114,000 copies on its first week, becoming the bands fastest selling album in the process.
H is for... Halford
One of the greatest guest spots in modern metal, Five Finger Death Punch cemented their place as our scenes new heroes by roping in The Metal God himself, Rob Halford, to lend his air raid wail to Lift Me Up, the opening song on 2013’s The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Vol I.
I is for... Ivan Moody
Divisive, enigmatic, unpredictable and unique, Ivan Moody has been on a hell of a ride during his time fronting FFDP. The singer has batled addiction, rehab, public breakdowns and fights with his bandmates, but he is the face and voice of the band, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone else could step into his shoes were he to not be there.
J is for... Jason Hook
Back in the year 2000 Jason Hook was hired by Disney pop princess Hilary Duff to play guitar in her band, back then you’d have got long odds on him becoming an iconic metal musician. But, thanks to his superbly crushing guitar tone and technically dizzying solos, that’s exactly what happened.
At least it was until Hook was recently given his marching orders by the band. After months of speculation, culminating in a fuck-you photo celebrating one million Instagram followers that didn’t feature Hook and dark rumours of a gagging order, the guitarist confirmed his departure.
What he'll do next, we're not sure. But he could always hook up with fellow ex-5FDP man Jeremy Spencer in Psychosexual (see below…)
K is for... Knuckleheads
Slipknot have Maggots, Avenged Sevenfold have Avengers and Black Label Society have Berserkers, it seems that if you are a massive cult metal band you need to give your fans a name to go by. Death Punch are no different, bestowing the moniker of Knuckleheads upon their followers.
L is for... LL Cool J
Almost certainly the most fun FFDP have ever sounded is when they took on the song Mama Said Knock You Out by New York hip-hop icon LL Cool J. The song, taken from the rapper’s 1990 album of the same name, probably never seemed like it was suitable for a chunky, metallic makeover, but Death Punch truly made it their own.
M Is for... Metallica
It will shock no one that the biggest metal band of them all have had a huge impact on the sound and career of Five Finger Death Punch. 5FDP are one of the very few bands that have come close though to aping Metallica’s success, and the fact that their seventh album was called And Justice For None was a clear nod to Lars and the boys.
N is for... The Netherlands
Five Finger Death Punch’s show on the 12th of June 2017 at the 013 venue in Holland is the most infamous of their career. Dutch fans thought they were witnessing the end of the band when Ivan Moody showed up two songs late, Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves assuminig vocal duties to open the set. Things didn’t improve when Ivan did arrive, with the frontman arguing with his bandmates onstage, who promptly exited the stage to leave Ivan alone as he announced that it would be his “last show with Five Finger Death Punch”. Awkward (even though they’d kiss and make up pretty quickly).
O is for... The Offspring
One of the more surprising covers the band has attempted in their career was their decision to tackle Orange County punk superstars The Offspring’s 1997 single Gone Away. The Death Punch version certainly beefs up Dexter Holland’s nasal vocal whine, and the half pace stomp gives the song a lot more grit and stomp than the original.
P is for... Pantera
Pantera were the most definitive band of the 90’s, and one that Five Finger Death Punch are most commonly compared to. Certainly, 5FDP have picked up the Texans’ baton and run with throughout the last decade, and both bands share an unwillingness to conform. “Pantera is one of our biggest influences” admitted Ivan Moody in 2012.
Q is for... Queen
Like practically any rock band that formed in the last 45 years, Five Finger Death Punch are huge fans of Queen, so much so that they roped in the bands iconic guitarist Brian May to play a solo on their cover of country artist Kenny Wayne Sheppard’s song Blue On Black in 2019.
R is for... Rehab
Ivan Moody’s problems have been well documented, since 2012 the frontman has admitted that his alcoholism nearly saw him fired from the band. Following his infamous onstage meltdown in 2017 Ivan headed into rehab to finally curb his demons. So far it's been good news, with the vocalist posting an emotional video to celebrate a year of sobriety on March 10, 2019.
S is for... Spencer
That’s original drummer Jeremy Spencer. The man who controlled the signature rhythmic stomp of Five Finger Death Punch since 2005 had to step away from his drum stool at the end of 2018 after a series of surgeries on his back. He’s subsequently relaunched his career as the singer with his new band PsychoSexual and, more unexpectedly, joined the Indiana police force as a reserve cop.
T is for...Trespass America Festival
It’s always a special moment when a band reach the pinnacle of festival headliner status. FFDP managed this in the year 2012 when they were installed at the top of the bill at the Metal Hammer sponsored Trespass America Festival that toured the United States, closing a fantastic line up alongside Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Pop Evil, Emmure, God Forbid and Battlecross. Tasty.
U is for... US Military
FFDP have long worn their support for the troops of the United States army on their collective sleeve. Just one look at their album art or song titles hint heavily enough at that, but the band have also set a up a line of merch to support veterans that suffer from PTSD and their countless trips to play in army bases around the world have even earned them a Soldier Appreciation Award from the Association of the United States Army.
V is for... Vext
Tommy Vext that is. The former Snot and Divine Heresy frontman has gone on to carve out a great career for himself as the frontman of upcoming metal band Bad Wolves, but he ably stepped in to aid the band during their 2017 arena tour when Ivan Moody was in recovery.
W is for...Way Of The Fist
The band's debut album instantly put them on the metal map, andi is still seen as the best of FFDP’s career by many fans. It went on to sell and impressive 500,000 copies, which is a mighty amount for a debut metal record, and features The Bleeding, a song that is often namechecked as the definitive Death Punch anthem.
X is for... X-mas Jumpers
Even Five Finger Death Punch aren’t immune to the festive spirit. Following the lead of everyone from Slayer to Guns N’ Roses, the band have their own range of Christmas jumpers, though it’s unlikely you’ll see your gran sporting the one that says ‘Fuck Xmas’ on the back.
Y is for... Youngsters
It’s a trick that Five Finger Death Punch have been repeating for a while now, but, still, the act of getting the youngest members of their audience up onstage with the band every night still warms the cockles. We first saw it back in 2012 during their main stage appearance at the Download Festival, where Ivan had a little crew of mini-moshers behind as the band ploughed through White Knuckles. Awwwww! Sweet!
Z is for... Zoltan Bathory
The undoubted leader and visionary of Five Finger Death Punch, and, surely, the man who is most responsible for their phenomenal success. The Hungarian guitarist and martial arts specialist has overseen his dream of coming to America to become a rock star turn to reality, mostly thanks to his drive, his ambition and, let’s be honest here, his wicked riffs.