Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist
Record Label: Prospect Park
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Ever hear the proverb “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? I must confess, I am a regular violator of that virtue; a great disappointment to my mother. One of the more recent victims of my judgmental tendencies was the Los Angeles based quintet; Five Finger Death Punch. Please don’t misunderstand me. I never had anything against the band, I was simply uninterested. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended the American Capitalist album as “angry, white guy, metal for Republicans.” (Yes, I know what you’re thinking… Why proceed to review an album which has already been so brilliantly summarized by one’s peer?) Admittedly, I was intrigued by the title of the album. Was it a satire of the American dream? A scathing condemnation of western materialism? Were they communists??? I figured I’d give it a go.
Immediately, I noticed some elements of the band’s sound which I loved. The album kicks off exceptionally with the track, “American Capitalist” which sets the vibe for the album - harsh, in your face, and testosterone laden. Its obvious that 5FDP intended to focus on production quality. Kevin Gregory Churko does a notable job of mixing the album; showcasing the abilities of the various band members. Jeremy Spencer brings his ‘A’ game as the driving pacemaker behind this hulking sound. As is typical within the genre, the low end is the focus with the kick reaching about as low sonically as any sound technician would dare traverse. Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory make up the guitar section for this album. To their credit there is an interesting dichotomy between the chugging rhythms and agile riffs all which set the stage for some relatively melodic solos such as the ones in “American Capitalist” and “Back for more”. Bass duties for this album were covered by Mr. Churko himself as he filled in for the recently departed Matt Snell. Finally, Ivan Moody enters the fray with his blood congealing guttural screams. Moody is as solid as ever throwing together some of the better vocal portions of his career. The screams are intense and heavy but also noteworthy are the extremely catchy clean vocal sections. Chorus’ such as the ones in “Over it Under it” and “Wicked Ways” stick in the listeners head and allow no respite; Both to Moody’s credit and my frustration.
Fans of 5FDP’s previous work should have no issue accepting this album into the relative canon of work. There is little here that could be described as different. While that might be a frustration for many, for the 5FDP faithful this is exactly what they hoped for. What some might consider stale, others will consider consistent. Not only is the sound similar to past efforts, so is the no BS attitude. If you had your heart set on innovation or evolution within the band then you’ll have to keep waiting. These guys seem pretty comfortable where they are, and who can blame them?
Alas, with all that goes right, the band still falls short in some regards. Songs such as “The Pride”, “Remember everything” and “100 Ways to Hate” demonstrate how poor the lyrics can sometimes be on this album. In such tracks the lyrics span anywhere from contrived and cliché to juvenile. It’s unfortunate that the album ends with a childish stream of profanities and obscenities. But then again, no one should be surprised, Moody is no renaissance poet but rather a self proclaimed “red-blooded, rough neck son of a bitch.” And for all of his ill-expressed emotion, this is still an album I found myself air-drumming along to.
So, retuning to my judgementalism, yes, I judged their musical book by their jewel cased cover. In some respects, maintaining that apathy would have saved me from hearing exactly what I anticipated. On the other hand, I would have missed out on some terrific execution of exactly what I anticipated.