In the words of Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction, personality goes a long way.
And it’s hard to remember a band making so much from so little, succeeding through a sheer strength of their identity, as Five Finger Death Punch.
While the twin album experiment of The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vols I & II did occasionally add new dashes of colour to their usually resolutely black-and-white canvas, it was still filled with the type of meaty riff and roar that many metal bands have made meagre careers from. Now, though, having risen to the heights of a Wembley Arena headline date and yet another dominating set at the Download festival, it’s time 5FDP delivered a truly classic album – an album to rubber-stamp their reputation as the band to beat, to put them in the same league as the Slipknots, Maidens and Metallicas of this world.
So it’s slightly worrying to think that the approach to this album has clearly been to just try to repeat the tricks of the past. The title track opener is definitely the kind of fat-free, straight-down-the-line rager that you’ve heard 5FDP dish out numerous times, and first single Jekyll And Hyde struts along on a real neck-snapping riff, spitting out profanities left, right and centre. Things are then, inevitably, taken down a few notches with the cleaner, more anthemic and absurdly catchy Wash It All Away, before Ain’t My Last Dance merges thrash pace with an emotive chorus. At this point you realise that if you were waiting for surprises or musical invention, then you’re going to be waiting a long time.
So why is it that, despite the very clear direction 5FDP are leading you in, you are still totally engaged? Probably because every second, every note, practically swells with the hunger, passion and swagger they’ve made their very own. It also helps that fifth track, My Nemesis, is the best thing on the whole album, a spidery, slow-burning anthem with a chorus that stalks your subconscious and has ‘Live Favourite’ plastered all over it. The next few tracks are quintessential Death Punch, with the guitarwork of Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook reaching a career-high on Question Everything and Hell To Pay’s enormous bounce making it the closest thing ever recorded to aural flubber.
The album is not without its problems. In some of his more confrontational moments, Ivan Moody’s lyrics can make Fred Durst sound like Wordsworth (especially on the tediously f-bomb-obsessed Boots And Blood), and if this was to be their Iowa, Number Of The Beast or Master Of Puppets then you can’t help but feel Got Your Six is lacking in comparison. But it would also be a lie to say that there is a duff track here, and if you’re a fan then you’ll delight in their reliability rather than feel disappointment with their refusal to truly challenge themselves or their audience. That personality has got them here, and that personality has gone a long way.
HOW DID THE ALBUM COVER CONCEPT CHANGE?
“Originally it had a child in the middle – Knucklehead was supposed to be protecting her from all the zombies and ghouls – but it didn’t look very aggressive.”
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH SO MANY HUGE RIFFS?
“My hands can deliver anything I ask them for, but my brain has to be working out. I listen to a lot of music.”
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO PROCESS FOR WRITING?
“One of my failsafe methods is to get Jeremy over here and just jam. That takes my brain out of the equation and allows instinct to take over.”
HOW’S WORKING WITH PRODUCER KEVIN CHURKO?
“He’s a wizard, but every time I say nice things about him, other bands hire him and his price goes up, so don’t print too much!”