FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
PLUS: IN FLAMES, OF MICE & MEN SSE ARENA WEMBLEY, LONDON. 21.12.17 KKKK AMERICAN METAL BRUISERS BRING THEIR BIG GUNS TO THE CAPITAL
Chris Kael’s beard doubled up as temporary strings for every time his bass broke
WORDS: AMIT SHARMA PHOTOS: CHRIS CASEY
■ IT’S BEEN a strange 12 months for Five Finger Death Punch. For a band so red-bloodedly cocky and self-aggrandising, they sparked a fair amount of concern about frontman Ivan Moody’s health and speculation over his future in their ranks. In interviews he spoke of coming to a crossroads, even going as far as quitting the band onstage in Holland in June. So when their bullet-riddled, all-american juggernaut rolls into Wembley, launching explosives as it delivers a knockout, it comes with an odd sense of relief.
Up first are Of Mice & Men, who’ve also undergone plenty of change, learning to cope without founding frontman Austin Carlile. Not that you would have guessed from their performance tonight. With bassist Aaron Pauley behind the mic, this is a band reborn, with new song Warzone sounding so heavy it inspires a bout of hearty sat-down rowing where arms would usually be flailing. Next, In Flames come on sounding a little tired in comparison, though they manage to pick things up as the set builds, even getting treated to more imaginary oaring along the way.“they do that in Germany, why are you doing it in England?” laughs frontman Anders Fridén, before encouraging the audience to “get in a circle-pit and make new friends!”
It’s hard not to marvel at the sheer magnitude of the show FFDP have brought tonight, with openers Lift Me Up and Never Enough brought to life almost as if they were soundtracking an action movie, with red lasers, giant skulls and blasting fires. Grinning with a baseball bat resting on one shoulder, Ivan is on good form, urging the crowd to take care of each other “because there’s always one guy that ain’t got no kids”, and inviting up Aaron Pauley and Bad Wolves singer Tommy Vext for Ain’t My Last Dance. Dialling it down a notch with an acoustic mini-set before brain-blasting encore The Bleeding, he looks like he’s having the time of his life. Never has a battering felt quite so welcome or enjoyable.