Five Finger Death Punch & Megadeth Bring Metal to Denver, CO 10-14-22 w/ The Hu & Fire from the God

“The only thing that is constant is change,” is one of those affirmations one can hear a lot in life, or at least a derivative of it. One can see it over time in just about every facet of their life from fashion trends to the very core of our everyday surroundings… well except politicians and taxes, they always are a pain in the ass. It doesn’t take much reflecting on the history of Heavy Metal to understand how much the genre of social misfits has changed over the decades. From the raw Blues influenced riffs of Black Sabbath, the arpeggiated mind melting guitar sound of Van Halen, to the unrelenting speed and ferocity of Slayer; Metal has always evolved and morphed oftentimes giving birth to all sorts of subgenres. So outside of a multi-band festival, how does one share the foundation of the genre, while celebrating its diversity and promise to evolve? Well one band has decided to take up the challenge, and that band would be Five Finger Death Punch as they hit the road with Megadeth, The Hu, and Fire from the Gods.

Since its inception in 2005 Five Finger Death Punch never shied away from doing things their own way. Their 2007 debut release The Way of the Fist really laid it all out for all joining the ride with songs like “Ashes,” “Salvation,” and “White Knuckles” blending addictive riffage with lyrics of personal struggle, self-empowerment, and attitude to spare. However, when you have a musician like Zoltan Bathory and a singer with the versatility of Ivan Moody, speed and heaviness are not going to be your only accomplishments. Their blending of honest melodies with songs like “Stranger Than Fiction” and “The Bleeding,” not only demonstrated their disregard for being a one trick pony but their interest in making their music accessible to more than just your everyday Metal listener. 

It didn’t take long to catch on, as in 2008 they saw themselves headlining the side stages for Mayhem Festival only to return to the same festival in 2010 as a headliner on the main stage. Is it any surprise when each follow up album release only saw the band get bigger and bolder. Their second release, 2009’s War is the Answer, even saw the band garnering new types of fans, and it was not only with singles like “Hard To See” and their cover of “Bad Company,” but they also demonstrated their love for the Armed Forces as they not only played USO tours overseas, they also raised money for PTSD amongst veterans. All of this affirms that 5FDP was not only going to be a band who brings some unforgettable music, they were going to also leave a mark on the world they live in socially.

It is no wonder that a band like Five Finger Death Punch who does things their own way, helped put together a tour cycle that featured not only one of the “Big 4” for Metal, the one and only Megadeth, but also saw to introduce their audience to the Mongolian Metal monolith The Hu, and a fresh Texas based metal band Fire from the Gods. 5FDP is one of the most unrelenting touring bands in recent memories, it seems as though since the moment they put out to Way of the Fist to 2022’s Afterlife they have been doing none stop touring cycles with all manner of artists, one has to wonder how long can that life continue. This tour however saw the bands’ hitting only the stadiums, and with the lineup it makes sense to expose the diversity to as many as possible. That in mind, the tour landed in Denver, Colorado on the evening of Friday, October 14th at the Ball Arena (formerly known as the Pepsi Center).

First up was Fire from the Gods as they wasted no time delving into a new track “Soul Revolution” from their new album of the same which is dropping everywhere on October 28th. The unbridled energy that Singer AJ Channer brought was infectious as the audience unleashed its approval of the band. They followed up quickly with the intensity of “The Voiceless” from 2016’s Narrative. The music laid down by guitarists Drew Walker and Jameson Teat, Richard Wicander on drums, and Bonner Baker on bass was the perfect complement to vocalist AJ Channer’s voice and thought-provoking lyrics.

When one reads Fire of the Gods’ bio on their website a line really sticks out about the band’s message “a unifying statement in order to try to prevent society from succumbing to the growing malaise brought on by soul-sucking technology, divisive politics and environmental destruction.” That statement was on full display with the band delving into the track “American Sun” and the band’s delivery only helped breathe life into their message for the crowd. As the band wrapped up its set with an earlier track “Excuse Me,” they definitely left an unforgettable impression on the crowd and definitely cemented it as a project to not take your eyes off of.

Next up was The Hu, and though the Manchurian Metal act was of a completely different style than that of Fire from the Gods they too promised an unforgettable set. While only forming in 2016, The Hu has already begun leaving a mark on the Metal world. How the hell could it not as they mixed heavy metal styles guitars and drums with traditional Mongolian guttural singing and instruments coupled with some members dressed like traditional Manchurian warriors, making for not only an intimidating yet fascinating experience to witness.

The Hu eased the audience with “Black Thunder” from their latest release Rumble and Thunder as the song continued to build the audience were completely mesmerized by the sonic waves hitting them, the imposing image of the band, and the unique musical delivery they were being given. The band then followed with the galloping track “The Gereg” from their debut album of the same name, only further reinforcing that your conventional view of Metal need not apply here. Though a shorter set, it did not take much to get this audience hooked and looking into when they could catch this band live again. Now that the crowd was in full frenzy after a Metalcore set from Fire of the Gods and the experience of the mighty Hunnu Rock from The Hu, it was the perfect time to change direction again with one of the godfathers to Thrash Metal, Megadeth.

As Megadeth was getting ready to hit the stage one can’t help but look back on their history. Since his departure from the original line up of the legendary band Metallica, Dave Mustaine has literally defined what it is to be a survivor. He formed Megadeth in 1983 and while garnering praise and borderline worship for not only his guitar skills and forging albums such as their 1985 debut Killing is my Business…and Business is Good!, the monumental 1990 album Rust in Peace, and of course 1992’s Countdown to Extinction. It should be noted what Mustaine has survived -a few lineup changes over the years, drug and alcohol addiction (that almost killed him), injured his hand so bad doctors told him he would never play guitar again, and a battle (which he won) with throat cancer. These thoughts in mind, as band unleashed the ferocious track “Hanger 18,” it was clear all of those obstacles never stopped Megadeth they only serviced in making it a force.

Mustaine was joined by one of his best lineups to date with Kiko Loureiro on lead guitars, Dirk Verbeuren on drums, and newly added Bassist James LoMenzo. The band was so in sync with each other, one would think they were the original line up for the band’s long history. Even new tracks like “Soldier on!” and “We’ll be Back” fit perfectly in the set list and showcased the band’s unison. Closing out with “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” the band left the audience breathless yet ready for the final act from none other than Five Finger Death Punch.

Last but not least, Five Finger Death Punch wasted no time as they hit the stage with an explosion of smoke stacks and light show galore to the soundtrack of their track “Inside Out.” The audience went ballistic to the sound of Zoltan Bathory and Andy James on guitars, Chris Kael on bass, and Charlie Engen on drums. The band refused to slow down for the crowd and forced them to math energy churning out songs like “Trouble,” “Wash it All Away,” and “Jekyll and Hyde” as the audience sang every word with Ivan. In the middle of the set Ivan took a moment belt out a couple of lines from “A Little Bit Off” before talking with the audience and saying there would be a couple surprise guests that would join the band later.

In a time where most out there in the entertainment industry wish to stoke the fires of division in society, Ivan took the time to remind the crowd what they not only meant to him but what they should mean to each other, even asking the audience to take a moment turn and shake hands with other audience members next to them. Despite the foreshadowing the band moved on to the rest of their set. With tracks like “Wrong Side of Heaven”, “Burn MF”, “Lift Me Up”, etc. the band put on a clinic on how to write a riff you will never forget. Then came the surprise, Ivan was joined on stage by his kids and he took a moment to tell the audience after much soul searching and discussions with his family, he has decided to stick with 5FDP for one more album and then he will be retiring from Metal. Fans were a bit stunned and even posted the show, still having a hard time accepting the news.

So again, we come back to the phrase “the only thing that is constant is change.” This show had it all, a peek into new talent such as Fire from the Gods and The Hu, old school hero to Metal like Megadeth showing that time with all the changes it brings they are still a force to be reckoned with, an energetic and yet very personal set from 5FDP. Will The Hu and Fire from the Gods be the torch bearers for Metal, how long can Megadeth continue at such a high level, what is the future for Five Finger Death Punch, and what genre will Ivan Moody find himself in? Who knows and who cares? Enjoy the ride while you are still on it, and embrace the change that comes no matter how unpredictable it may be.

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