Five Finger Death Punch. Once upon a time it was a name in the metal world that was looked upon in some circles with derision and scorn. Accusations would range from that “they weren’t a real metal band” to “they’ll never amount to anything”. As we stand early in 2014 even the strongest doubters of Five Finger Death Punch must now be eating their poorly chosen words. The latest occasion for FFDP to show how far they’ve come was the first of two sold out nights at The Forum in London’s Kentish Town, part of their biggest UK tour so far that is almost completely sold out.
As a result of prior commitments Rock Sins arrived part way through the performance of opening band, US hard rockers Pop Evil. The part of the performance that was witnessed was unfortunately not particularly memorable, with Pop Evil coming across as a slightly heavier Nickelback style group. Ideal for US rock radio, where they almost certainly do very well, but on this occasion they didn’t translate particularly well in the live environment – in part due to some muddy sound that made singer Leigh Kakaty quite hard to understand. Wrong band in the wrong place perhaps (5).
Main support came in the shape of the always sharply dressed Texan deathcore mob Upon A Burning Body who had a sizeable portion of the crowd onboard with them before a note had been played and this only grew and grew throughout their thirty five minute slot. UABB’s blunt musical style is the audible equivalent of a runaway freight train which means they do not appeal to everyone but the energy and passion of the performance is never in doubt. A cameo appearance from FFDP bassist Chris Kael to do a spot of guest vocals livened things up further before the closing one-two punch of Texas Bloody Money and Sin City saw UABB depart in impressive fashion (7).
The warm reaction to Upon A Burning Body notwithstanding, tonight is one of those shows where it is truly only about the headliners and within seconds of the opening “Under and Over It” kicking in Five Finger Death Punch receive an enormous reaction from the sold out crowd which is maintained almost continuously for the next eighty minutes. Front man Ivan Moody was on traditional commanding form, conducting proceedings with a confident ease while producing a tremendous, consistent vocal performance. The whole band were on great form which should come across very well on the DVD that Ivan Moody announced they were filming of the two nights in London, which prompted another huge cheer.
Aside from Under and Over It, the highlights of FFDP’s performance were many; The acoustic renditions of Battle Born and in particular Remember Everything were enough to make hairs stand on the back of one’s neck, Coming Down had all of it’s usual live impact and Jason Hook managed to make a light up guitar look amazingly cool as he tore through the solo during Lift Me Up. As hoped for and anticipated by many, the Five Finger Death Punch makeover of Mama Said Knock You Out also got an airing, resulting in a lot of what can only be described as “Gangster moshing” while many others threw some good old fashioned shapes. Closing as they always do with The Bleeding, the only complaint that can be held against 5FDP is that it all seemed over far too soon (8.5).
Having jumped to the attention of many with their amazing performance at Download 2013, and with their reputation furthered on the UK arena tour with Avenged Sevenfold, this tour has cemented Five Finger Death Punch as a major draw in the UK metal scene. They have the attitude, they have the star quality, in Ivan Moody they have the charismatic front man, and now they have an arsenal of memorable songs. If Five Finger Death Punch are not at metal’s top table in the UK within five years and headlining arenas, if not festivals, it will be a tremendous surprise.