The Way Of The Fist

Five Finger Death Punch

Firm Music / Spinefarm, 2007

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


I remember when Pantera was it. Pantera had attitude, a big middle finger at the world, and their songs reflected it. After Reinventing The Steel, Pantera dissolved with the members moving on to form other bands until the death of Dimebag Darrell. Since Pantera’s demise, few bands have risen up as a potential replacement. The search has been on for a band to offer hostility, outstanding musicianship, and enough smarts to tour relentlessly to bring their music to the people.

Today’s answer for Pantera is Five Finger Death Punch. They burst into my ears a few years back with the song “Stranger Than Fiction” on my local rock station. It was a welcome change from hearing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” or Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” I connected with the heartfelt delivery of the lyrics and the music behind the lyrics was interesting. Based upon that single, I wound up with a copy of The Way Of The Fist. Rarely does a week go by where I do not spin this release.

It all comes down to second impressions. The opening track, no matter how many times I’ve listened to it, takes me by the ears each time and drags me through a field of barbed wire. Vocalist Ivan Moody starts out the release with repeating the word “Hate” four times before he says, simply, “Bring it.” Immediately after that, the music kicks in.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And this music is not boring at all. The musical talent from guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook is immediate. Moody sings, “You don’t understand me / and you probably never will” to open the song. During the chorus, he sings, “Every thing I touch turns to ashes / Slips right through my hand.” There is a sense of despair and hatred. And it carries on to “The Way of the Fist,” a fiery vulgar tirade. Multiple times Moody is as confrontational as Pantera’s Phil Anselmo ever could be. Moody is seriously peeved at the world. “You might win one battle / but know this / I’ll win the fucking war.” Then it carries into “Salvation” with more hostility. Taking on his faith life, Moody, sings, “Disgusted by your weakness / you have no right to live / … / You’re like a puppet on a string / You don’t get it.” This song toggles between a clean guitar tone and one that can only be described as a “dirty” guitar tone. Moody’s vocals change to accommodate the change in the guitar tone.

Without making too sweeping of a generalization, the rest of the CD continues in the same vein. “The Bleeding,” one of the other songs from this release that made it onto the local rock station, is as close to a ballad as the band can get. “Can’t Heal You” confronts the inability to help someone you care about when he sings. “You are the one who made the decision / stuck in a prison, shattered and broken / I am the one who, expected to heal you, save you from drowning in your endless nightmare” with a sense of regret.

This release comes in different variations. The re-released version that came out in 2008 includes “Stranger than Fiction,” “Never Enough,” and an acoustic version of “The Bleeding.” That is the version to pick up. “Never Enough” could have easily been incorporated into the early part of the release – do not consider than B-sides or anything like that. The acoustic version of “The Bleeding” is as gut-wrenching as the all-out electric version.

At the end of the day, Five Finger Death Punch is the total package. The lyrics are confrontational, the music is constructed in a way that you can pump your fist in the air, the vocals toggle between shouts and actual singing, and the energy from the band is contagious. If you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I really should go for a walk and do something about this spare tire that is growing around my waist,” then I strongly recommend putting The Way Of The Fist on your portable music device and strapping on your shoes. Try to keep a cadence with the tempos of these songs and that fat tire will shrink. Of course, check with your doctor and all that first.

Rating: A

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© 2011 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Firm Music / Spinefarm, and is used for informational purposes only.