Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist (2011)

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Music

It’s not very often a band rises from nowhere to one of metal’s elite acts as fast as California’s Five Finger Death Punch. In fact, not long after the release of the band’s 2007 debut The Way Of The Fist, 5FDP was sharing stages with Korn and Disturbed and building a reputation usually saved for veterans of the scene. With one gold album in their back pocket, the band quickly concentrated on their next album, 2009’s War Is The Answer. That, too, went gold and the touring gigs saw an upgrade as well. They played Download in 2010, shared the mainstage with Lamb of God and Rob Zombie through the summer’s Mayhem Festival, and headlined their own tour with metalcore veterans Shadows Fall OPENING for them. Not a bad three years of work.

As uncharacteristic as their rise to fame has been, it seems well-deserved. The band amalgamate a unique blend of hardcore, groove, and nu-metal that is delivered with the ferociousness of a hungry tiger with an arrow in its ass. The delivery is sharp, furious, and has kicked the door down from day one. Where other metal bands strive for perfect songwriting and epic pieces of art, 5FDP is only interested in one thing – stomping the shit out of anyone that gets in their way. They are an angry bunch, and their animosity towards almost everything not only reminds me of old-school anarchy punk, but adds an extra aggression to their already-powerful style.

With that in mind, the band is ready to shove their new album down your throat whether you like it or not. American Capitalist is slated for an October 11th release, and continues the band’s trend of grabbing an aluminum bat and decimating everything in their way. So put in your mouthguard, adjust your cup, and let’s get to the beating…

The album opens with the title track, and if you haven’t already laced up your shit-kickers, it’s probably too late. The first four bars give you whiplash, and before you even have time to think about it, you are smack in the middle of the signature frenzy. The band has always been known for their aggressive style, but this sounds like an improvement all around.

“Under And Over It” was released to radio in advance of the release, and has already garnered ‘heat-seeker’ attention across the world. Another powerful track with blasting drums, gut-punch guitars, and the back and forth harsh/clean vocal stylings from Ivan Moody. The track marches along in perfect cadence, and slams its way through what may be 5FDP’s finest moment.

The one thing I’ve always enjoyed about this band is their mission statements. They don’t overpower you with their political views or religious takes, but they are VERY proficient in letting you know that they aren’t writing songs about the normal ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” A perfect example of this comes in the form of “The Pride.” The band shares their opinion on everything from Nascar, iPods, and Springsteen. In what seems to be a combination ‘shout out to the haters/proud to be an American’ groove, the band slyly protects itself early from those that are having trouble accepting the bands successes. Moody shouts out “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in,” and I, for one, am not going to argue with him.

One thing I’ve never understood about this band is the need for a ‘softer’ side. Granted, it sells albums and gets the fairer sex involved – but if I ever heard Lamb of God do a song that sounded like Three Doors Down, I’d punch Randy Blythe square in the face. Five Finger Death Punch always do their best to ‘metal’ these atrocities up, and I guess by now it’s part of their resume. Maybe it’s the ‘ying’ to their brutal ‘yang’, but for me it’s always been nothing more than a distraction, so we’re just going to move right past “Coming Down” and head on to bigger and better things…

“Menace” gets the album moving back in the right direction with the music. The lyrics are a little below par. For a band that has easily made as much bank as anyone else in the modern metal scene over the last year, it’s hard to ‘feel’ the ‘fight my way through it all’ vibe, so we are calling this one a miss. If you don’t listen to lyrics and just bang your happy little head back and forth, you’ll be fine here. The breakdown and solo was pretty good, after all…

Focusing a bit more on the groove metal element, “Generation Dead” is a far more poignant statement on the band’s attitude towards society in general. It’s not a happy story, but the band delivers it with serious intent and the message comes through loud and clear. Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook sludge through a pretty powerful guitar performance on the dark, gritty track while showcasing their solo and fill abilities along the way.

“Back For More” keeps the groove pedal to the floor, and you can feel the bass from Kevin Churko (who took over for the departed Matt Snell and also produced the disc) in the depths of your chest. Some spoken word vocals add a new element, but honestly the lyrics reach a new level of low for the band. So, again, ignore the lyrics and mosh your heart away to the great music. If I never hear the words ‘man up’ again the rest of my life, the world will be a better place…

As forecasted earlier, we get another soft one in “Remember Everything,” an open-letter apology to Moody’s parents, I guess. But we stated earlier how much we dislike these kinds of tracks, and we despise this one more than usual. A few ‘fucks’ are thrown in throughout to up the ‘badass’ element, but this was just monstrously weak.

The blast beats from Jeremy Spencer open “Wicked Ways,” which sounds heavy and hard, but is actually a love song of sorts. This is not only confusing, but pours far too much sugar on a track that – while over-produced – had the chance musically to really shine. The drumming was top notch, but the rest was Top Ramen – tasty, but really cheap.

“If I Fall” came at just the right time, as it lifted up the record just when it was starting to sag a bit. Again, the lyrics weren’t what I expected, but I had given up on trying to get a ‘metal’ message from these songs a few tracks ago. The chorus was at least strong, and the guitars and drums were relentless. I’m starting to wonder, though, where all the aggression and fury went from the first few tracks on the album, but judging by the name of the next track, we might just get a good send-off.

Pounding drums and decimating guitar chords open “100 Ways To Hate” and find the band returning to their bread and butter – finally. It’s a bit of a pompous, self-righteous statement, but it is the representation the band has sold us on over three albums. They are tough, heartless thugs of metal that don’t get respect, don’t make friends, and don’t give a fuck one way or another. As the complete antithesis to the bullshit heartfelt moments the album had from time to time, this is a nice reminder of why I even like these guys.

But was it enough to define the album as a whole? I have to say ‘no’. There were five really great tracks here, four magic tricks that tried to hide inadequate writing with over the top guitars, and two immediately passable wannabe-ballads. Overall, though, there was a ‘record-label’ structure that felt far too obvious to be a coincidence (and also explains the presence of a few tracks that should have been omitted). It’s very clean – and very produced – but very disjointed. I’m not going to join the ‘corporate-made’ discussions that have followed this band (but would support their quick rise to stardom), but I will say this – when the band wants to be one of the best metal bands going, they have the means and the bite. This album, though is mostly just the cautionary bark…


01. American Capitalist
02. Under And Over It
03. The Pride
04. Coming Down
05. Menace
06. Generation Dead
07. Back For More
08. Remember Everything
09. Wicked Ways
10. If I Fall
11. 100 Ways To Hate

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