'The Way of the Fist' (The Firm)

Review by Greg Maki
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Listening to Five Finger Death Punch’s The Way of the Fist is the musical equivalent of going 10 rounds in a heavyweight fight. The record should come with a spit bucket and a cutman to patch up the listener between songs.

There are countless acts out there that are more “extreme,” faster and heavier, but few have the sheer power and aggression of 5FDP. This band is metal; no other labels need apply. The influences come from a time before the genre was bastardized by an endless list of subgenres, this-cores and that-cores. There are hints of Slayer, Iron Maiden, early Metallica—all the classics. As the band and their fans (lovingly referred to as “Knuckleheads”) describe it, this is “true metal.”

From the moment frontman Ivan Moody (ex-Motograter) menacingly intones “Bring it!” at the start of track one, “Ashes,” the assault is ferocious and relentless. Ten songs, 39 minutes. No frills, no window dressing. Just a nonstop barrage of thick metal riffs, screaming yet tasteful solos and rapid-fire double-bass drumming. It’s exactly what you want from songs with titles like “The Way of the Fist,” “The Bleeding,” “A Place to Die,” “White Knuckles,” “Death Before Dishonor” and “Meet the Monster.” Moody’s vocals range from an enraged bark to a haunting melodic tone, showing him to be one of the most dynamic frontmen working today. Joining him in the 5FDP ranks are former U.P.O. guitarist Zoltan Bathory (the architect of 5FDP); guitarist Darrell Roberts and drummer Jeremy Spencer, both of whom spent time in W.A.S.P.; and ex-Anubis Rising/Deadsett bassist Matt Snell. These are metal veterans and topnotch musicians who have been waiting a long time to make an album like this. They are complemented by the production team of Stevo “Shotgun” Bruno (Mötley Crüe, Prong), Mike Sarkisyan (Spineshank) and Logan Mader (formerly of Machine Head and Soulfly; producer/mixer of Silent Civilian’s Rebirth of the Temple). They give the recording a huge, chunky sound that will shake the foundation of whatever building you play it in.

5FDP is exactly what metal needs in 2007. The newer generation of fans needs to know what the genre is all about. It doesn’t matter how fast you can play or how heavy and mean you can sound if you don’t write good songs. A number of bands (Shadows Fall and Trivium foremost among them) have harkened back to metal’s glory days on their latest albums. None has done it as brilliantly as Five Finger Death Punch.