Five Finger Death Punch at the Rapids Theatre (2013)


Wednesday night marked the third time in four years that Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP) injected its über-masculine strain of groove metal straight into the veins of The Rapids Theatre.

If you take into account shows at both Town Ballroom and Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Western New York has been certifiably rife with knuckleheads on five occasions since 2010.

Clearly, this area can’t get enough of the Death Punch sound, and, in turn, Ivan Moody and the boys have forged a kinship with a community that is all too accustomed to being passed over whenever a major act decides to hit the road.

Given the frequency with which the band rages through, are we still capable of assessing their impact with any degree of objectivity?  Does their ascendance to the status of radio-friendly heavy metal ambassadors somehow compromise their legitimacy among those who still worship the “eff you” immediacy of “The Way of the Fist?”

Better yet, does the band even care what anyone outside of the fan zone thinks about the direction they’re heading in as artists?

If you’ve sampled even a snippet of show opener “Under and Over It” or their latest single “Burn MF,” you know that they couldn’t care less.

5FDP is a mechanism predicated on attitude as much as anything else, so the fact that they’re rapaciously talented musicians is an added bonus considering the wealth of style-over-substance pretenders currently casting a spell on mainstream outlets.  We respond to them, because they’re sincere, authoritative, and actually conscious of not allowing the celebrity circus to change who they are inside.

What you see is what you get, and that’s a rare thing is this world.

Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook have the potential to become a modern-day Tipton/Downing, as evidenced by their blazing trade-offs during “Lift Me Up” and “No One Gets Left Behind.”  While the sound should’ve been much louder to properly set the stage for such muscular riffing, I was still riveted to the bone as I stood among the army of fervent fist-pumpers caught up in the moment.

Lyrically speaking, I don’t know if Moody is irritated with that many things or he simply creates a series of straw men for the purposes of crafting a memorable song, but he’s one of the most compelling vocalists we have in metal right now.  Whether it’s the punishing urge behind “The Bleeding” or his lyrical antagonism on “Never Enough,” nary a moment occurs in which we don’t believe every notion he puts forth.

What separated this evening from the earlier ones was a mini acoustic session that found Moody and Hook treating the faithful to transcendent versions of “Remember Everything” and “Battle Born,” which was something I certainly didn’t expect at the outset.  I don’t think there a single soul was left unmoved once Moody belted out the line ‘You say that I’ll never change/But what the eff do you know?’ during “Remember Everything.”

Miss May I and Escape the Fate filled out the lineup with brief opening slots, and I have to say that Miss May I made the most noteworthy impression.

Both bands exemplify the blueprint on how to assemble a hardcore group using one singer and one screamer, but, while Miss May I brought the pain, Escape the Fate’s glam aesthetic felt a bit out of place given the atmosphere.

Then again, the amount of females attending metal shows has grown exponentially through the years, so I understand the desire to appeal to both sides of the aisle.  Even 5FDP attracts more women that I ever thought would be drawn into the realm of thrash metal, which, for diehard fans of the genre, is never a bad thing.




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