Stick on a Five Finger Death Punch album and you know what you’re in for: radio-ready metal anthems with Ivan Moody grunting out the most abrasive of earworms. However, the times they are a’changin’ for the Las Vegas quintet. The pandemic killed touring for 2020’s F8 album, and they’ve added new lead guitarist Andy James to their ranks to replace Jason Hook.
According to band founder and rhythm guitarist Zoltan Bathory, the new world has inspired a more eclectic ninth album, taking from the 60s and modern science alike.
What’s the timeline for new music?
Zoltan Bathory: “We’ve finished the record. I don’t have a solid timeline. I’m so confused about time. What day is it? Ha ha! I’m thinking end of July, maybe August.”
The pandemic started very shortly after your last album, F8, came out. What was the mood in the band at the start of lockdown?
“We always wanted F8 to have its own cycle, but it was T-boned. Originally, we didn’t want to record a new album, because we didn’t get to tour that record. We wanted to wait, but then it kept going on – two weeks to two months to two years. It was maybe a year into the pandemic when we realised, ‘Man, who knows how long this is gonna go on for? Let’s go back to the studio.’”
What was it like making music during the pandemic?
“The fact that we couldn’t go anywhere forced us to be even more focused. We live in Las Vegas, which can be the most motivating and most distracting place in the world. Ha ha! It’s usually 24/7, but it wasn’t 24/7 anymore. We were wondering, ‘What else is there to do but write songs?’ It focused us even more on the music and the writing.”
What did Andy James bring to the album?
“We love his British sense of humour. We’ve spent the last two years together and he is hilarious. He was a legitimate guitar hero before he joined this band; he had, like, six solo albums. I was a fan of his work. So it was like, ‘Let’s let him loose!’ He’s very easy to work with.”
How does the new album compare with F8?
“We have a lot of unexpected stuff on the record. We’d be working on a song and something comes out, and we’d go, ‘That almost sounds 70s’ – this late 60s/early 70s vibe. There are other things that are super-modern and almost futuristic. When you put these songs next to each other, they tell a story. It sounds like a coherent band.”
What do you mean by a 60s and 70s vibe? How are the songs ‘futuristic’?
“When you listen to music from the 60s and 70s, there was a specific vibe. If you look at the world now, and what happened in the last couple years, there has been a paradigm shift. Compare the 50s with the 60s – they were very, very different.
There was a psychedelic revolution: an explosion over what the world is and what’s important. That’s happening now and this record, sonically, fits perfectly. We also have the metaverse and cryptocurrencies – what do they mean? People look at what freedom means very differently, so how do you put a soundtrack to that?”
You’re also re-recording 5FDP’s debut, The Way Of The Fist. How’s it going?
“That’s how this whole thing came about: ‘We don’t wanna do a new album because we just did F8.’ We were like, ‘Let’s re-record The Way Of The Fist’, because it was literally recorded in my living room. We’re still probably gonna do it. But, after the first couple of songs [on the new album], we were like, ‘This is so special; this is amazing. Let’s not interrupt this flow.’”
AfterLife is due August 19 via Better Noise