Denver metalheads packed the floor and seats of 1st Bank Center on Tuesday night for five hours of headbanging, neck-thrashing heavy metal from Lola Black, Texas Hippie Coalition, Hellyeah and worldwide heavyweights Five Finger Death Punch.
Hellyeah and 5FDP came to Denver straight from this past weekend’s Knotfest in California, where they melted faces before Slipknot’s headlining sets (see San Antonio Metal Music Examiner Jay Nanda’s full coverage of Knotfest right here), but Tuesday night’s show in Broomfield had its own special treat. All of Hellyeah came out in Halloween costumes, including drummer Vinnie Paul dressed as King Diamond behind the kit, guitarist Christian Brady in a frightening clown mask, and singer Chad Gray wearing a bloodsoaked mummy mask. See full photo set at the top of this page.
Hellyeah ripped through eight songs, including new tracks Blood For Blood (Sangre por Sangre) and Cross To Bier, with their typical bloodcurling ferocity. The offspring of Mudvayne and Pantera sounds almost nothing like the bands that birthed Hellyeah; instead the group has firmly established its own unique crunch and roar that thundered throughout the arena for the better part of an hour.
But the night firmly belonged to Five Finger Death Punch, as demonstrated by the face-painted, t-shirt wearing fans who crammed up against the front row barricades for Ivan Moody and his bandmates. 5FDP’s rise to the top of the metal world has been nothing short of meteoric, climbing from small clubs to headlining arenas and festivals in the space of just a few years. And the reason for that success was apparent to everyone in attendance on Tuesday night: this band really kicks ass!
Ivan came out swinging a baseball bat and roaring out the lyrics to Under And Over It while the band crunched their way through the music. Guitarists Zoltan and Jason Hook (read my 2011 interview with Jason here) shredded up and down the necks of their axes, tossing out picks to the crowd and showing off flashy stage moves like born-and-bred rock stars.
The next several songs continued to crush, with Burn It Down and Hard To See leading to the band’s spectacular cover of Bad Company, dedicated to the men and women of the armed services. Ivan also took the opportunity to brag about his Colorado roots and even took a dig at Nebraska for some easy cheers. But the crowd interaction really took off with Burn Motherf-cker, which is typically when Ivan invites kids in the crowd to come on stage and sing along. The Denver audience was more than willing to oblige and soon a dozen elementary-aged children, some in costume and one rocking a killer mohawk, were all on stage and cursing along with the band in a heartwarming display of underage heavy metal vulgarity.
Surprisingly, after a monster drum solo from a costumed Jeremy Spencer, the band offered a short acoustic set from Ivan and Jason with songs like Far From Home and Remember Everything. It was nice to see Moody singing and even tearing up a bit as he spoke about his daughter and his love for the fans, but came off a bit anti-climactic for those of us who prefer heavier songs. All too soon the instrumental intro to The Bleeding was playing and fans hit the mosh pit for one last run on the single that first broke out the musicians of Five Finger Death Punch.
When the dust settled, Tuesday night’s Halloween special was a serious treat for fans of heavy music. Few frontmen control a crowd as well as Ivan Moody does, and the band’s infectious riffs and lyrics had men, women and children all raising their horns and singing along. It was mildly disappointing that The Bleeding was the only song played from the first record, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of any of the night’s songs, especially with the way that Ivan and his band smile, nod and even crowdsurf with their fans.
Five Finger Death Punch have been on the road for pretty much five straight years, during which they’ve pushed out an impressive five albums as well. It’s only a matter of time until the band needs a break or some serious time off like their friends in Disturbed. But until then, expect 5FDP to keep on kicking ass in bigger and bigger venues as they continue climbing to the top of the heavy metal world, one bloodied knuckle at a time.