Five Finger Death Punch has always struggled to be taken seriously in the world of heavy metal. Even after their first three albums were released to much commercial & critical acclaim, gaining a foothold in the notoriously elitist metal community was difficult for them.
Many questioned Ivan Moody’s ability to write meaningful lyrics, claimed the band was gimmicky, bland, and unoriginal, culminating in some going as far as calling them a “heavier version of Nickelback”, a punchline any music fan is familiar with.
While, to this day, I will contend that their debut album The Way Of The Fist is a nearly-perfect homage to true and unadulterated heavy metal music in the late-2000’s, even some of the band’s biggest fans have lost faith over the last five years as their music becomes its own sort of punchline.
The nail in the coffin for me was the second single from their seventh studio album And Justice For None. In a song titled “Sham Pain” (a play on the word champagne) Ivan Moody fires off corny “disses” at his critics, including TMZ, his former record label Prospect Park which sued him and his bandmates, as well as Blabbermouth.net for coverage of the band’s incredibly tumultuous year in 2016.
While many fans admired Ivan’s no-nonsense songwriting and willingness to take his doubters head on, that song and the subsequent album it was featured on was an absolute cheese-fest. Even the music video for the song is something that many publications could only refer to as gimmicky, bland, and unoriginal.
I guess my point here is that while the debate regarding FFDP’s music is good or not, or what genre it does or does not fit into continues on, I tried to go into this performance with an open and accepting mind, even though I already possess fairly strong opinions on the matter. Personally, I don’t think it’s heavy metal music anymore, no matter how many times Ivan Moody wanted to reassure his fans it was on Tuesday night inside the Target Center.
On a bill that also included performances by Breaking Benjamin, Bad Wolves, and From Ashes to New, Five Finger Death Punch were the headliners of the night, performing in Minnesota for the first time since 2011’s performance at Myth Live in Maplewood.
Early in the show, lead-singer Ivan Moody, who was performing with a boot due to his broken foot, took a few opportunities to openly thank local radio station 93x for not only putting on the show but for being one of the first radio stations in the country to embrace Five Finger Death Punch and actually play their music.
Before performing their famous cover of Bad Company’s – “Bad Company”, Moody addressed the crowd, asking that everyone who had served in the military or worked as a police officer, firefighter, or first responder to wave their hands, taking the opportunity to thank and salute them for their service.
He then told a story of something that happened earlier in the day. Apparently, while setting up the stage for the show that night, a long-time crew member of the band suddenly had a heart attack, collapsing on the stage. Moody stated that the many former-military crew members the band employs jumped into action, assisting the first responders on the scene and effectively saving the mans life.
Overall, their setlist featured a fairly even mix of their new record which they are out in support of and familiar favorites from their discography. Before a high energy performance of “Burn MF” Moody invited a few children (and one dad!) on stage for an intimate performance of “Remember Everything”, politely saying “you can take it, I’m not a stranger!” while offering them a few pieces of candy.
By far the most inspiring moment of the night was the story Moody told before the closing song of their set. Remembering the moment he nearly died in his daughter’s arms due to his issues with substance abuse, Moody fought back tears as he said: “that was the moment I decided to never let a liquid control my life ever again!”
He went on to tell the crowd that “Gone Away” by The Offspring was his daughter’s favorite song, and that is why he decided to perform it with his band as a way to apologize for his actions. Leading the crowd in a four-minute sing-a-long, it was an interesting way to cap off their performance before a lively encore performance of their song “The Bleeding.”
While it was clear to me that Five Finger Death Punch might not be the powerhouse of the metal community they once were, it’s difficult to argue the legitimacy of a band that continues to sell out arenas over a decade into their career. While I may not go out of my way to keep up with this band anymore, The Way Of The Fist will continue to have a lasting impact on my musical upbringing, and for that, they will always have my respect.
Five Finger Death Punch Setlist – Target Center – Minneapolis, MN
- Under and Over It
- Wash It All Away
- Jekyll and Hyde
- Sham Pain
- Bad Company (Bad Company cover)
- No One Get’s Left Behind
- Wrong Side Of Heaven (Acoustic)
- Remember Everything
- Coming Down
- Burn MF
- Gone Away (The Offspring cover)
- Lift Me Up
- The Bleeding