It's easy to believe everything you're told.
It's easy to blindly accept what's culturally deemed
good and evil. It's easy to allow lines to
divide black from white. It's easy to close your eyes,
shut off your mind, and follow the
"normal" path set out by society. True artists don't conform
though. Dogma holds no weight for them, and
rules burn up in the flames of their tenacity and
creativity. They consistently go against the
grain and challenge the status quo.
Five Finger Death Punch didn't take the easy
road on their fourth and fifth albums, The Wrong
Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell
Vol. 1 & 2 [Prospect Park/EMI]. The gold-selling,
chart-topping Las Vegas quintet—Ivan Moody
[vocals], Zoltan Bathory [guitar], Jeremy Spencer
[drums], Jason Hook [guitar], and Chris Kael
[bass]—fire off their most enigmatic, engaging, and
empowering salvos yet. Open up your mind, raise
your fist, and dive into The Wrong Side of
Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1
Putting out two albums in the span of a year
might seem lofty to some, but Five Finger Death
Punch are no strangers to trumping the
expectations of others. Against all opposition, the outfit
tirelessly strived to reach the top of heavy
metal since forming in 2006. Their first three offerings
The Way of the Fist in 2007, War is the Answer
in 2009, and American Capitalist in 2011 each
stand certified gold with cumulative sales in
excess of 4 million worldwide.
Over the course of those releases, they achieved
ten consecutive Top Ten singles at Active
Rock Radio—including their very first #1 at the
format "Coming Down" in 2012. Their music has
been featured prominently everywhere from NBC's
Criminal Minds to the Madden video game
series. Then, American Capitalist debuted at #3
on the Billboard Top 200 with over 90,000
units sold first week, solidifying their status
as a bona fide and undeniable mainstream
However, they've upped the ante in all aspects
on their fourth and fifth offerings, respectively.
They entered The Hideout Studios in Las Vegas
with longtime producer Kevin Churko [Ozzy
Osbourne, In This Moment] in November 2012 with
"We want to write real songs,"
declares Zoltan. "The songs are what matter at the end of the
day. We maintain a write everything policy. We
write whatever comes to us instead of trying to
create rules for what we're going to do. This
time, we jumped in headfirst and found ourselves
with almost thirteen songs done fairly quickly.
However, we were still coming up with better
material, so we looked at each other and said,
'Okay, why stop there? Let's keep going.' Once
we hit song 24, we knew we'd have to put out a
"There's one chance to really make a ripple
in the music industry," continues Ivan. "How do you
send a fucking shockwave and get their
attention? Well, you piss everyone off and really hit their
nerves. You've got to do something that's
uncalled for and unforeseen to tap that last nerve. In
our case, that's put out two albums."
Zoltan adds, "It just felt right. When you
have a body of 24 songs, you've got the chance to
experiment and write a few progressive or
outside-the-box songs that would've been too much
of a departure if you only have ten song slots
to play with."
Doing two albums allowed them to evolve like
never before. Not only is this their deepest body
of work, it's their most dynamic. For the first
time in their career, the band invited some
legendary friends to join them. Iconic Judas
Priest singer Rob Halford lends his inimitable pipes
to the first single, "Lift Me Up".
After hearing him profess his love for the band, they had to
reach out for a potential collaboration.
Alongside Halford, Five Finger Death Punch take flight to
soaring heights on one of their biggest anthems
"We grew up listening to Judas
Priest," smiles Zoltan. "They were a huge influence, and Rob is
'THE' metal god. The whole experience was
completely surreal. He was driving around Vegas
with us talking about the crazy road stories.
When we got to the studio, we picked that song
because it already had an old school metal vibe.
It completely fit his voice, and it gives us a
different color and texture."
For Ivan, the lyrics prove apropos of the band's
place. He explains, "Honestly, the song
basically says, 'Elevate me. I need a cause. I
need a reason. I need life. If I can't have it, what's
the point?' Rob heard it and wanted to sing on
it. How much of a fucking honor is that? It's
Elsewhere, Soulfly mainman Max Cavalera's primal
roar punctuates the bombastic and brutal
"I.M. Sin", while Hatebreed's Jamey
Jasta injects moshpit-splitting fury into "Dot Your Eyes and
Cross Your Teeth". The biggest musical
departure happens on an irresistible and infectious
cover of LL Cool J's classic "Mama Said
Knock You Out" with none other than rap titan Tech
"Hip-hop and metal came together in the
early 2000s, and it was acceptable," Zoltan goes on.
"So we would not have done it back then
since that was the norm, but today, it's totally
unexpected, it’s a taboo because it's just a
magnet for the haters. We live for that shit; it’s fun
watching them get bent out of shape. Still,
first and foremost the song had to work and when
Tech came out to the studio, we just clicked it.
It came out killer."
However, Five Finger Death Punch also personally
open up more than ever. There are searing
moments of vulnerability such as the plaintive
and poetic "M.I.N.E." and "Cold", and then there
are violent, vicious, and vibrant explosions of
riffs and screams in the form of "Burn
Motherfucker" and "Watch You
"We weren't going to write 'The Bleeding'
or 'Never Enough' again," affirms Ivan. "This was
about pushing the envelope. It was about saying
'Fuck you.' It gets brutal at points, but it's also
truly beautiful. It's Death Punch."
Even as they progress, Five Finger Death Punch
consistently remain one of the most explosive
live acts on the planet. They're a mainstage
attraction at international festivals including
Download Festival, Rock am Ring, and Rock im
Park as well as performing at Metal Hammer's
"Golden Gods" Awards. Stateside,
they've topped Rock on the Range, Welcome to Rockville,
and more. Following their journey, they helped
launch the very first Rockstar Energy Drink
Mayhem Festival in 2008 on the second stage, and
in 2013 they're co-headlining it with Rob
Ultimately, Five Finger Death Punch's ethos of
perseverance, passion, and power stands
encapsulated in the idea behind the title The
Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of
Hell Vol. 1 & 2.
It means "Question everything,"
affirms Zoltan. "We don’t have the right to tell you what to think,
and what to believe in. Nobody does. But artists
have a unique opportunity to pose questions
on a global scale. That’s what we did with War
Is The Answer and American Capitalist, and
that’s what we’re doing once again with this
title. You figure it out what it means to you."
He expounds upon that idea, "As humans, our
notions about good and evil are carved in our
minds. However, we were imprinted with those
ideas by our environment — whether it's
religion, the government, or school or society
in general – a third party etched that duality in
your mind. As a result, people draw boxes around
themselves and live their lives in those
mental cubicles, bound by these fictitious
guidelines. We're not trying to further polarize and
denounce what we've been told is right and
wrong, but we are encouraging you to form your
own opinions. Don’t believe everything you read,
don’t blindly live under somebody else's ideas
and rules, and don’t buckle when you are
demonized for having a different opinion. Who is
anyone to tell you that his or her opinion or
beliefs trump yours? Even question what I said
The phrase itself is even closer to Ivan's
heart. “One day I told Zoltan and Jeremy, 'We're truly
all on The Wrong Side of Heaven and The
Righteous Side of Hell',” says Moody. “The true
human drama is that nobody wants to go to the
proverbial cauldron… but nobody wants to
exist in the place where they're inferior
either. That's what bonds all of us. This is the most
honest we've ever been. There's no bullshit.
This is for everyone who's made this band what it
is. I don't want anybody to walk away from this
album—ever. I want them to hang onto it for
life. We can burn together.” — Rick Florino,
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH: Co-Headlining Fall Arena Tour With Volbeat Kicks Off September 16