Release date: October 11, 2011
The Five Finger guys may have reached that precipice of hard rock/metal massiveness. That point where they are on the verge of becoming a modern version of Nickelback meets Metallica, in the sense that American Capitalist is the album which may well catapult the band into headlining arenas and permanently stamping “sell outs” on their credibility passports. Certainly the band’s management company is taking that approach, placing the band on a small arena tour to kick off the album’s release, and limiting press to all but a few major market publications appropriate for band’s of such “elite status.”
The album title may be about as apt as the band could get on this record as they took branding and marketing to extremes. Gene Simmons would be proud. Perhaps it’s all tongue-in-cheek, as the album’s playful cover art would imply, but most certainly it is capitalism friendly.
That said, the world is full of haters, and those who choose to verbally flagellate over a band becoming highly successful from writing mainstream accessible metal will certainly find much to loathe about the third full length studio effort from Five Finger Death Punch. However, as the quintet is quick to point out on the album’s first single, they are “Under and Over It”. “Did you hear the one about me giving a shit, ’cause if I did, I don’t remember it”. Vocalist Ivan Moody has never had a problem with giving naysayers the one-finger salute.
While most band’s have a recognizable signature, perhaps no current metal band has a more identifiable calling card then 5FDP. The band’s unique mix of distinct crunchy rhythmic guitar patterns and and double bass, machine gun drumming follows the band through most every track. Moody’s angry growls contrasted against a wall of melodic harmony vocals seals the sonic imprint.
Those coming into American Capitalist expecting to hear the band expand on its sound will be disappointed. Those who just want more of what we already enjoy from 5FDP can rejoice in its comfortable sameness.
American Capitalist was produced by the band along with Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, In This Moment), so the quality is slick, yet they’ve managed to retain the Five Finger edge. Churko also handled bass duties, as the band had yet to hire Chris Kael.
The album kicks off with the the title track, and immediately you know that the loss of bassist Matt Snell has done nothing to alter the band’s ferocity or rage. Not surprising since he was never one of the band’s songwriters, but still, fans can breathe a small sigh. Drummer Jeremy Spencer is in full on hyper-kick bass mode straight out the gate, and Zoltan Bathory has nice chunky guitar rhythm here. Jason Hook’s first guitar solo is a beauty, and the band adds a lyrical throwback to Way Of The Fist on one of the verses.
The aforementioned lead-off single takes off next, letting critics and haters know they simply don’t care what you think about them or their music. Why should they? “Under and Over It” is a very catchy chug and groover.
The album’s third track, “The Pride” has a more atmospheric opening before the band’s trademark in-your-grill thunder explodes. Lyrically this one is bound to turn heads, as it’s either a finger to the world who has a problem with America, or it’s a spoof on how pathetic America has become. “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in…”
“Coming Down” is a broody semi-acoustic piece about the dark side of expectations and emotional survival, while “Menace” jumps back into the uptempo onslaught and more of the lyrical fuck-you-I-don’t care-what-you-think rhetoric which can be found in abundance on this disc. This may be the disc’s least favorable track, but that’s a matter of taste.
Moody shows off another side of his vocal capabilities on “Generation Dead”, giving listeners his more angsty cheek. The intro with its grooving bass intro recalls some of Moody’s Motograter work.
“Remember Everything” is perhaps as close to a power ballad as Five Finger Death Punch ever treads. Moody trades his growl in for a more plaintive aching quality on his vocals. Where lyrically the band spends much of its time talking survival of the fittest and taking a no apologies approach, it’s nice to see there is a softer side in there somewhere. The melancholy doesn’t last long though as the band jumps back into it on “Wicked Ways”. Spencer once again is in full drill-kill, chest caving mode behind the kit.
On “If I Fall” Moody makes it clear, if he’s going down, he’s taking everyone with him. Thank goodness he’s not a postal employee. This track combined with the album closer “100 Ways To Hate” might leave you feeling Moody’s a little unhinged. Then again, you have to be a bit unhinged to play metal and put you art and life out there for the world to appreciate or ridicule.
American Capitalist is not a groundbreaking album, nor an evolution for Five Finger Death Punch. Rather, it is a continuation of what has made the band immensely attractive to those who want their metal to be both blistering yet accessible. What American Capitalist offers is a thick slab of highly melodic, anger fueled, kick-ass rock and metal. The haters can call them sell-outs, but Five Finger Death Punch is reminder that you can be metal without forfeiting solid song structure, hooky choruses, or your balls.
Whether American Capitalist vaults the guys into the rarified air of bands like Metallica and (gasp) Nickelback remains to be seen. The band has certainly created a signature sound that is heavier than hair metal but more mainstream then bands who believe the only true metal means screaming rather than singing. The real question becomes are the songs good, memorable, and worthy of repeated listening, and American Capitalist answers that question with a resounding YES!