Experimentation, spirituality and staring death in the face. All a part of what makes Five Finger Death Punch’s new album tick.
Five Finger Death Punch have just released their new album ‘Afterlife’ via Better Noise Music.
A hulking combination of brute force and boundless exploration, the band take on new challenges in ways that they wouldn’t have previously considered and come out the other side with their most fascinating record to date. Influenced not just by the world we are living in, but also the way the people within it have changed as well, it signals a new chapter for the band, musically, spiritually and everything in-between.
To dissect some of the elements that make it what it is, we sat down with guitarist Zoltan Bathory and dived in…
CELEBRATING THE FACT THAT WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT
“The band is sober, and there is a new line-up. Everybody is happy to be here and to be able to make music together. There’s a great feeling within the band, which is vital to creating something. The fact that we set about making this record in a time when the pandemic was raging was also a big factor within how we were approaching it. We knew we wanted to be able to tour again, but we had no idea how long it was going to be. So that created a scenario where we didn’t have to go to the studio, but we did. For the first time in that scenario, there was no deadline to anything we would produce. That took away any sort of pressure. It’s also our ninth record, and people know who we are. Few riffs, Ivan’s voice, you know it’s us. It’s pretty difficult to reach that point, but when you do, you gain an interesting freedom. That sound is so familiar that you can try a different genre, and it will also be recognised. Jazz, polka, it doesn’t matter. That’s a perfect combustive recipe for what this record is.”
TRYING TO DOCUMENT ONE OF THE BIGGEST SHIFTS IN GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN A GENERATION
“The blueprint of this record was the fact that there is a paradigm shift going on in the world. We started to talk about things that we had discussed in our private and personal lives before but in the context of them fitting into songs. Discussions about spirituality and spiritual beliefs, which are things that everybody has an opinion on. The shift, in a lot of ways, comes down to the growing pains of a civilisation that has just got here, having to deal with the first significant shift in their lives. The pandemic was global, everybody felt it, and it was the first time that had happened. Everybody hit the breaks and sat at home, and a couple of things started to happen in people’s minds. They are out of the hamster wheel, the routine they knew is gone. They no longer have to drive that car to work to earn money to pay for the gas they put in that car. Is this a life that we want to live?”.
BEING HONEST, EVEN ABOUT THE PARTS OF LIFE THAT SCARE US
“Ivan [Moody, Vocalist] had a near-death experience. I personally died twice. We had these absolutely life-changing moments, and we are talking about what we said and what we heard when those things happened. We are writing songs about what it sounds like when you die. That’s what ‘Judgment Day’ is about. I wrote about what I heard. And then when I passed it over to Ivan to add vocals, he knew and recognised those same sounds. It took him back to his own experiences. He almost didn’t want to put it out because it would always take him back to that moment. But we were talking about these things, the fact we were trying to put them into songs, because of how the world feels today. People are perking up, looking up from their phones and taking in the world around them, and what’s beyond, and started asking questions. Because ultimately, nobody knows shit about what any of this means, so why not question it?”
KNOWING THAT THE MIND IS MORE POWERFUL THAN WE REALISE
“If you think about how we position ourselves and our place in the world, you see how we are all so similar. For all of our differences, the hardware is the same for absolutely everybody. So it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are from, how you were raised or what any of this means to you, we are all the same in our anatomy.
“Our minds are the same. They are filled with different collections of things that we have built up over time and that we think we know and that we care about. It’s things we have been taught and experienced. Everything you do becomes a thought, and everything that we are becomes a totality of those thoughts. If that is all the case, then one event in the world can completely change you and change how you see everything. You can transform your whole life from that one thing. A piece of new information can alter who you are. If you want to be different to who you are, you can. We all have this incredible free will that we are not always using. You are in the driver’s seat and don’t even realise it.
“So what does that mean to us as artists? I have the power to create this music and these lyrics and question things around us in whatever way we want to, and I can change people’s minds with that music as well. Even if it just a little nudge, I can show someone a completely different way of thinking. That’s a powerful thing to have at your disposal. Bands and artists are the catalysts, but you must read the room and know when it is the right time to roll that out. Now feels like the right time.”
WRITING MUSIC TO SUIT THE LEVEL THAT YOU ARE AT
“When a band starts out, and they want to do this thing for a living, there are always going to be many struggles and mountains to climb. You can’t say, ‘come to a show or fuck off’, because then you’re never going to make it. So your attitude has to reflect what you want to succeed with. You have to look at the environment that you are in as well. You’re starting out playing in little clubs of 200/300 people. In those clubs, hardcore and punk are what you will hear because rooms like that deserve that energy. If you go into that space and sing ‘We Will Rock You’, people are going to look at you like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with these people’. That’s an arena song, so needs to be played in arenas on its route to becoming iconic. So along that journey, you write music based on who you are and the environment you are in. Once your band grows, and you start to play on stages that are much bigger than where you started, you’re starting to think about how to write songs that will work in places like that. You’re a different person than who you were before. It becomes a part of you. That’s where we find ourselves now. We have to write how we feel, and that has to reflect on where we are. We have to change, because if we didn’t we would get stuck. You have to be honest.”
ALWAYS PUTTING YOUR ALL IN, BECAUSE THEN NOBODY CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU
“Impeccability is when you go into something and know that you didn’t cut corners. It is as good as you can do it. You ran as fast as you could. You didn’t save energy for later. You may not get first place, but you did everything you could. The critics don’t matter when you put everything you have into something in the pursuit of trying to make something happen. Every rock has been turned over. Everything in my power has been done. So why the fuck would you care about what anybody else thinks? Because if they can criticise you at that moment, they are actually criticising your existence. And your existence cannot be criticised. You are untouchable when you put everything you have into it.”