Musicians flying overseas to entertain American troops is nothing new. It's just that most bands who do it haven't recently released an album titled, War Is the Answer.
Five Finger Death Punch is an L.A. heavy metal band, and like a lot of bands in that genre, their music is a playground of aggression. Their 2010 Iraq tour was the perfect occasion to underscore what they do - explore the range of emotions that surround violence.
The band includes the U.S. Soldier's Creed in a YouTube video documenting their time in Iraq. The creed emphasizes the selfless side of fighting: "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat."
Five Finger Death Punch performs in Madison July 30 as part of Band Camp, WJJO's hard-rock extravaganza. Few metal bands are as adept at turning sonic aggression into mass catharsis. They do it with thundering guitar riffs, pounding percussion and intense vocals.
Since forming in 2005, they've sold more than a million CDs. This September, they'll release their third album, American Capitalist. The first single off that album, "Under and Over It," is due out this week.
Named after a martial arts term, the band is fueled by Hungarian-born guitarist Zoltan Bathory. Bathory practices judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
In Five Finger Death Punch songs, violence is sometimes a means of self-preservation. "Bulletproof" fights against forces that degrade self-respect. "You can't take my virtue, you can't take my pride," sings Ivan Moody. "You can't take the anger building up inside."
"Burn It Down" celebrates the act of torching injustice. "I've seen the world through your eyes and it makes me sick," sings Moody. "I question all of your answers. They're fucking lies."
But the band isn't always unruly. "Far From Home" is a metal ballad that begins with brooding acoustic guitar and maintains a modest tempo. The wailing electric guitar solo is session-smooth. The track is built around a melodic chorus that repeats, "Your heaven's trying everything to break me down."