Conquering Hero 

Five Finger Death Punch's guitarists can wail even if, virtually, they suck

click to enlarge We mentioned how these guys are big mixed martial-arts - fans, right? Dont mess with em.
  • We mentioned how these guys are big mixed martial-arts fans, right? Dont mess with em.

There's a clear difference between being a guitar hero and being a Guitar Hero according to the guys of thrash metal act Five Finger Death Punch, at least.

As headliners for the Guitar Hero II stage of the Family Values Tour this summer, the band members had a chance to play the video game for the first time while in New York City.

"It was hilarious," vocalist Ivan Moody says over the phone from Los Angeles. "My guitar players could not play it to save their lives. Me and my drummer were smoking them."

It made no sense to Moody. After all, it doesn't take a terribly close listen to 5FDP's debut album, The Way of the Fist, to realize that these guys know their way around a six-string. The title track of the disc, which debuted in Billboard's Top 200 after being released in July, opens to a flurry of drum beats and rapidly descending guitar progressions only to be topped seconds later by a semi-solo from guitarist Zoltan Bathory, who shreds a furious, Eddie Van Halen-esque response to Moody's guttural "Zoltan: Open the sky!" call.

So it's safe to say that, when it came to Guitar Hero, a lack of ability wasn't the issue.

"You would think that [being guitarists] would make it easier for them," Moody says. "But they just could not get the hang of it, man."

Luckily, the members of 5FDP Moody, Bathory, guitarist Darrell Roberts, bassist Matt Snell and drummer Jeremy Spencer have other ventures to fall back on. Bathory runs a mixed martial arts combat gear company that sponsors a number of competitive fighters. Moody, meanwhile, has his hand in a number of other projects; for instance, he sings for the decidedly un-thrash metal act, Ghost Machine, and works as a promoter and spokesperson for Bathory's company.

With so much going on, it might be tough for these entrepreneurs to stay focused on the merits of 5FDP were they not continuously receiving positive feedback, as they have been since starting in 2005. After blowing out eardrums in the sweltering summer heat of the open-air Family Values tour ("a form of boot camp," Moody says), 5FDP was offered the opening slot on an upcoming tour alongside metal heavyweights and fellow Family Values headliners Korn and HELLYEAH.

The group's Colorado Springs performance, which will act as something of a homecoming for Denver native Moody, is 5FDP's second-to-last headlining gig before meeting up with Korn and HELLYEAH in Milwaukee on Oct. 1. And while Moody laments that his big-name tour mates won't be joining him on stage, he promises to bring a "stellar show" for Colorado's "world-renowned" metalheads.

"Just us, we're more than enough," he says, confidently.

"You've got my word on it."


Five Finger Death Punch with Try Redemption and Another Shade of Hate
The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Thursday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $9.43, all ages; visit ticketweb.com or call 866/468-7621.


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