Five Finger Death Punch

support Shadows Fall + Magnacult
author PP date 20/11/09 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

The plan was to be inside The Rock around half an hour from doors just in case one of the bands would start early, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, a sizable queue had manifested itself outside the venue, extending almost to the end of the block. Knowing how The Rock's entrance is designed to completely collapse in front of even the smallest of queues, all hope instantly vanished of catching support act Magnacult who had been hired to replace Marionette due to an illness in the band. So no review of those guys, unfortunately, but everyone I talked to inside the venue seemed to tell me I didn't miss anything. But judgment reserved for next time.

Shadows Fall

I swear that every time I see Shadows Fall live, two of the following developments have taken place since the previous time: one, vocalist Brian Fair's dreadlocks keep getting longer and longer; they are now practically cleaning to floor behind him. And two, Brian Fair's vocals have become more monotonous. His yelled bark/scream combination isn't the most varied to start out with, but when you combine it with tonight's shitty sound quality (which coincidentally also made it impossible to hear all guitar melodies from the left side of the stage), it suddenly becomes difficult to distinguish the band's songs from one another. Of course, the highlights like "The Light That Blinds" (also known as the Guitar Hero song), "Still I Rise" and a couple of old classics were still clearly recognizable, but as a whole it seems that since their glory days Shadows Fall's song structures have become more fuzzy and muddy. At least that's what it felt like tonight. That didn't prevent small mosh pits opening on the floor, however, and Fair's hair-all-over-the-place performance is always a focal point at a Shadows Fall show. And because the band handled both themselves on stage and the crowd like you'd expect a band with hundreds of concerts under their belt to do, at the end of the set I couldn't help but feel impressed over the degree of professionalism and experience Shadows Fall displayed tonight. Plus those epic clean choruses with slick metalcore leads are capable of some fairly hair-raising moments every now and then.

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Five Finger Death Punch

Prior to the Five Finger Death Punch set I generally thought of the band as a product of the mainstream hype machine, an act with some of the most formulaic mainstream 'metal' (hard rock, really) material recorded in recent memory, albeit infectiously catchy nonetheless. That perception changed the instant the band's vocalist Ivan "Ghost" Moody appeared on stage by himself prior to the band's set with his big American accent and asked the crowd the following question: "Alright so here's the deal: our guitarist Zoltan is very ill at the moment. We can either come back and make it up for you guys, or we can perform as a four-piece, what do you guys say?". There was something enormously confident, something extraordinarily overwhelming about his voice; the moment he opened his mouth all conversation within the venue stopped in an instant, leaving a silence behind. I've seldom, if ever, seen that happen so effectively with a nearly sold-out show but you really had to be there to believe it. Needless to say, the band re-appeared a short while later as a four-piece, which unfortunately meant that their macho hard rock sound felt like it was missing large chunks of sound in many places, but all things considered, the performance was rock solid.

Back to Ghost, though, and pardon me for not including a description of the rest of the band in this review, but they could've just as well been playing backstage, for Ghost's ego and stage presence was so astronomically gargantuan in nature that everyone in the crowd, regardless of muscle-mass, felt like he just converted all of us into his minions who would stuff our faces in his sweaty arm pits if our overlord would so choose to ask. In fact I was afraid that the walls of The Rock would come crashing down on us because I didn't believe for a second they could withhold the size of this guy's ego. He actually looked, felt, and acted like a hardcore / metal version of Fred Durst, except Fred Durst's ego would shatter into a million pieces if placed underneath Ghost's presence tonight. And while in 99.9% of cases such a description would be a negative notion, Ghost delivered his persona with such an incredible amount of charisma and believable honesty that everyone felt welcome and important in front of him. One reason for that is that this guy literally has one of the most amazing, spotless voices I've come across over the 500+ shows I've attended, as he effortlessly switched between pitch-perfect clean choruses and aggressive screaming (even growling at times) as if it was the easiest deed in the world for him. That's why live versions of formulaic mainstream songs like "Never Enough", "Walk Away" and "Bleeding" sounded so awesome tonight, and coupled with brilliant sound quality I don't think anyone was left feeling cold. Judging by the volume of the sing alongs to these songs, anyway. The constant interaction with the people at the front of the stage both in between and during songs, whether that be through high fives, shaking hands or directly talking to a specific person, made everyone feel welcome and important despite the band's Americanized macho attitude. That's why I'm now a FFDP convert.

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