WHY THE HATE?: Five Finger Death Punch

WHY THE HATE?: Five Finger Death Punch
Photo by Hristo Shindov

One of the biggest rising metal bands from the 2000's is Las Vegas' Five Finger Death Punch. Formed in 2005 by guitarist Zoltan Bathory and drummer Jeremy Spencer, they would recruit bassist Matt Snell and then former Motograter vocalist Ivan Moody. Through extensive touring and nine albums, songs that featured collaborations with Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Maria Brink of In This Moment, and rapper Tech N9ne, the band has been unstoppable and a juggernaut in modern metal for almost twenty years.

So, why is this modern metal behemoth appearing in another edition of Why The Hate?. The band has become a lightning rod for many of the negative stigmas regarding the metal community. From the generic, one-note criticisms of the band's music, the actions of its lead singer Ivan Moody, and the negative connotation of their "bro-culture" fanbase. Today, I will deep dive into the band's music, the band and it's controversial lead singer, and their fanbase. Does Five Finger Death Punch deserve the hatred that it gets?


The band's debut album, The Way of The Fist, was released in 2007. The band would make a name in the metal community with the single "The Bleeding". With the album leaning into a heavy, groove metal sound. The album would barely break the Billboard 200 at 199. Later going gold in 2011 following the band's later success. They would go on to tour with Korn on the 2007 Family Values Tour, as well as touring support on Korn's solo tour. Exposing the band to a bigger audience and growing in popularity. The band would then open for Disturbed on their 2008 Indestructible tour.

The band would reach huge success with their second album War is The Answer, and the lead single, a cover of Bad Company's "Bad Company". The album would show the band beginning to alter it's sound with this record. Still incorporating the groove metal sound from their debut, but would begin to add alternative and hard rock elements to their sound, increasing not only radio playability, but to some, a gateway to get someone into heavy metal music. It would debut at number seven on the Billboard 200 and has been certified platinum. Snell would leave the band following this album.

The band would follow-up that in 2011 with their third album American Capitalist. Debuting at number three on Billboard 200, it would sell better than it's first album following the strength of the lead single "Under and Over It". Which played predominately on satellite radio Sirius XM's channel Octane. Receiving positive reviews from critics, comparing the band to Sevendust and Mudvayne for being able to not only be heavy and create radio-friendly hits, but also could create rough-tinged ballads successfully.

Two year's later, the band would release a two-part album in 2013 with The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 & 2. Releasing Volume 1 in July. Featuring guest appearances from Rob Halford on "Lift Me Up", Maria Brink on "Anywhere But Here" and rapper Tech N9ne on the LL Cool J cover "Mama Said Knock You Out". The album would also feature bonus tracks "I.M. Sin" featuring Max Cavalera of Soulfly & "Dot Your Eyes" featuring Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. This would cement the band's legacy in not only chart success, but acceptance by many metal legends that appeared on Volume 1.

Four months later, the band would release Volume 2. With the lead single "Battle Born", a reference to the band's home state of Nevada's flag, along with the song "House of The Rising Sun", the band would reach almost the same success as Volume 1. Charting almost identically to Volume 1, as well and selling over seventy five thousand copies in the first week. There were no guest appearances on Volume 2, but the record did receive positive reviews from fans and critics.

Their sixth studio album, Got Your Six, was released in 2015. With the lead single "Jekyll and Hyde", the album would continue the band's chart-topping success. Debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 and selling over 100,000 copies in its first week, as well as debuting at number one on the Top Rock Albums charts. The band would tour with co-headliners Papa Roach and support from In This Moment and From Ashes to New to promote the album. The band would release a greatest hits compilation in 2017 called A Decade of Destruction.

In 2018, the band would release their seventh album And Justice For None. This would be the last album to feature Spencer, who would leave the band due to health issues. The album would peak at number four on the Billboard 200. The album would feature two covers, a cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Blue on Black" and The Offspring's "Gone Away". With a lower peak charting position, many fans considered the success and popularity of the band's album and sound was starting to diminish. The album would still be certified gold in the United States.

The band would try to rebound and capture it's previous success with it's eighth album F8. Marking the debut of new drummer Charlie Engen, the album would have a personal lead single with "Inside Out". A song about Moody's internal struggle with addiction. Self-reflecting about what he's gone through and the friends he's lost during his battle with addiction. Though it would still chart in the top ten of the Billboard 200, the album peaked at number eight. Many fans have cited this record as not the band's best and the descending popularity of the band was starting to become more prominent. The band would release another best-of compilation A Decade of Destruction, Volume 2 in 2020, near the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The band's most recent record is 2022's AfterLife. Now featuring new guitarist Andy James, the album debuted and peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200. The success of the album's title track as the lead single sparked a re-interest in the band and it reflected in album charting and sales. The album would top the U.S. Top Hard Rock Albums, as well as number two on the Independent Albums and Top Rock Albums. The band would release two more singles, "Welcome To The Circus" and "Times Like These". The band would tour as support for Megadeth in 2022.

So, musically, does Five Finger Death Punch deserve the hate? Musically, I don't think they do. Yes, a lot of their albums do sound VERY similar or tracks could be intermixed with other albums and not know the difference, the music is ok to me. I do like a couple of their albums. Am I expecting intricate, technical mind-blowing solos? No. Do they deliver that simple, chuggy, heavy modern metal sound that's radio-friendly? Yes they do. And to each their own. Also, if they are truly a gateway band for people to get into heavy metal or look into heavier stuff then Five Finger Death Punch, then that is a good thing and I can't fault them. So, musically, the band doesn't deserve the hate.


The band themselves work with many organizations in a charitable way. They have performed countless military benefit concerts. Supporting organizations that deal with veterans and soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Bathory was elected as the chairman of the non-profit organization The Home Deployment Project in Las Vegas to help veterans suffering from PTSD and homelessness. The band has also supported first-responders and law enforcment. Donating over $50,000 to The Badge of Honor Memorial Foundation that assists departments and families of fallen officers to help them with federal and state benefits.

A lot of the hatred towards the band stems from the actions of the band's front man Ivan Moody. Moody has been very vocal about his addiction to alcohol. He has stated in the past he would perform intoxicated and not remember statements or remarks he would say onstage. One incident, would involve his own family and was captured on video.

In 2016, Moody would cut the band's concert short in Worcester, Massachusetts. During the concert, he would tell the fans that his mother was dying that night. Many concertgoers reported that Moody appeared drunk and needed to be helped off the stage. Moody's younger sister would tell a reporter that his mother was "alive and well". One year later, he would step away from the band, cancelling their upcoming tour to enter rehab. He has even stated in interviews that due to his alcoholism, he was on the verge of being kicked out of the band. The band would tour without him while Moody was in rehab. Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves would fill in until Moody would rejoin the band once out of rehab.

Moody's alcoholism would land him into trouble with the law. He would be arrested for assaulting a flight attendant, while drunk, on a flight to Australia in 2014. In 2015, he would be arrested again, but in Las Vegas, for domestic battery by strangulation on his wife of seventeen years Holly Smith. Per the police report, he would choke her in a Jiu-Jitsu hold, yelling "I'm going to fucking kill you!" before repeatedly punching her. Charges were later dropped, but Smith would file a restraining order. She would later divorce Moody in August of that year, citing a continuous pattern of domestic abuse. Moody's sister Sandra Dykes, along with his mother, would file a restraining order in August 2015 against him. With Dykes alleging that he is not a "fun drunk", and also stating that when he drinks and does drugs, he has a "history of violence with women".

The question is, does all the charitable work that the band does, counterbalance the negativity and bad reputation that Moody has had with his time in the band? It is a tough decision to think, does the good outweigh the bad? I was not able to find any other issues with the other band mates to the severity of Moody's, but I think the rest of the band doesn't deserve the hate that is aimed towards the band. Regarding Moody, it is NEVER ok, sober or intoxicated to ever punch, hurt or do something worse to anyone. Especially a loved one or the mother of your kids. He may be sober now and may live the rest of his life without doing drugs or alcohol, but doing something like that to a loved one is uncalled for, unforgivable and never ok. So, Ivan Moody does deserve the hate he receives due to his actions outside of the band.


There is two main arguments which the metal community claims towards the fanbase. That draws negative feedback and opinions towards them. One point is the trademark "yea, I listen to metal" and cite Five Finger Death Punch as their example. This seems to draw the ire of the metal community since many people have claimed that the band hasn't been "metal" or "metal enough" since the band's debut album The Way of The Fist. Which brings up the dreaded "poser" insult and making not only metal music look bad, but also hurting the metal genre as a whole. A similar example was when Metallica became re-popular in the pop culture lexicon for a younger generation due to their appearance in the Netflix series Stranger Things. The other negativity towards the fanbase is the creation of the "tough guy/bro metal" persona that has become a stereotype or cliché with their fanbase. It has also stuck to more heavier bands such as Throwdown and Hatebreed, but is more prevalent with Five Finger Death Punch due to the band's popularity. It has been joked that fans are uneducated, right-wing, redneck and meat-headed that only people who are "true men", "alpha males" or "gym rats" should like them and anything else besides them is "soft" or "not metal" or "tough enough for them". Granted, this is a stereotype and I myself know people who like them, but do not live or act in this way. There are the one or two or maybe more of fans that do feel that way. That is the traditional "one person ruining it for the rest of us" mentality. The fanbase doesn't deserve the hate that it receives, since not everyone is like that or acts that way.

Overall, Five Finger Death Punch doesn't deserve all the hatred and disgust the metal community gives it. Their music may be formulaic at times, with many songs being repetitive, maybe even "copy and paste" in a way. It is still metal to me and there is a fanbase for the band, and I don't think they deserve any of that backlash for their music. They also do good things outside of their music. The band's work with the military, working to help fight things like PTSD, fallen soldiers and law enforcement, as well as homelessness is a good thing. Which should be promoted more from the metal news outlets. The actions of Moody do deserve the hatred. It is very hard to gloss over things like that in a person's life or career. With so many examples of these actions, it is something to never forget and to be reminded that no matter what you do or how you have changed, you have to live with your mistakes. Towards the fanbase, they do not deserve the backlash and hatred they get. Yes, there is some fans that do live the stereotype of the fanbase, but there is many fans that enjoy the band and are open-minded, educated, no political preference, and accepting of all cultures and beliefs. Sometimes we as metalheads assume the worst in a band or fanbase, and it is something we need to change and break away from the stereotype of a band's music or fanbase.

With this series I want you, the reader, to make your own decision on a band and not go on assumption or stereotypes or what your friends say about a band. My goal with this series is to bring to attention the stigmas and negative reputation of a band or artist. Showing off the good and the bad they have done, and to hopefully persuade you to do your own research. Whether that's listening or re-listening to their music, researching any news stories or events I cover or forget to cover, interviews with the artist and making your own thoughts known. I just address what is known about the artist I cover and leave the decision up to you if they deserve it.

Do you think Five Finger Death Punch deserves the hate? Do you agree/disagree and why? Let us know in our social media, as well as what band/artist you think we should do next in this series. Cast your vote as well in the poll below and see if your fellow metalheads agree with you. I'm Justin, You're Friendly Neighborhood Metalhead, and this has been another edition of Why The Hate?

Does Five Finger Death Punch deserve the hate? - Online Poll - StrawPoll
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