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Two-album adventure is twice the fun for Five Finger Death Punch

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

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Guitarist Zoltan Bathory to call it "a perfect storm."

And Five Finger Death Punch fans are happy to be battered by it this year.

Celebrating a spurt of creativity that started on the road while touring to support its last album, 2010's "American Capitalist," the Los Angeles-based heavy metal band is releasing not just one but two new albums this year. "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1" cane out in July and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 while also topping the Hard Rock Albums and Rock Albums charts. "Volume 2" is due out Nov. 19, while the first single "Battleborn" is already hitting bit on radio.

"Last summer we had a handful of ideas we were going to go and record," recalls drummer Jeremy Spencer. "We got in (to the studio) and really focused and we got up to 24, 25 songs, and then it was time to decide which ones were going to make the record and which ones were gonna be taken off.

"And we just decided that we didn't want to take any of them off. We thought they fit well together, so we decided on these two records."

Bathory -- the Hungarian-born former member of U.P.O. who co-founded FFDP in 2005 -- notes with pride that the group is "really a well-oiled machine," as evidenced by the plethora of material on the two albums. But he acknowledges that it wasn't necessarily an easy sell to the FFDP's record company.

"The label was like, 'Ah, no, we're only gonna put out 12 (songs),' " remembers Bathory, 35. "So we said 'OK, we'll send YOU the 24 songs and you pick what's good.' They called back a week or so later, 'OK, we see your point. You can have your two records.' " The compromise was two separate volumes, rather than a double album, not unlike fellow headbangers Stone Sour had recently done with its "House of Gold & Bones" releases or, for that matter.

"When it comes down to it, 24 songs is a lot of material to give the fans to digest," Bathory says. "I personally take about two or three months to digest a new record. So we decided to stagger the (releases) so that people get to spend some time with the first record before they get to the second one."

However, he promises, fans will not be getting second-rate material on "Volume 2.

"To tell you the truth, some of my favorite songs are actually on the second volume," Bathory says. "It was very important that if you give someone record one and record two, they can't decide which one is better. That was kind of the goal when we were putting these together."

Spencer, 40, adds that in dividing the songs between the two volumes "we wanted to make them both kind of balanced and take the listener on kind of a roller coaster ride, not have 10 songs of one style on one and 10 of another on the other. We wanted each one to take on a natural flow.

"So you can basically interchange the songs on both records. I really can't say anything is different. You can interchange any song from either one. If you're a fan of the first one you're gonna dig the second one -- and if you weren't you're probably not gonna like this one."

"Volume 1," however, is distinguished from its successor by guests. JUdas Priest's Rob Halford sang on the first single, "Lift Me Up," while Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta, Soulfly's Max Cavalera, rapper Tech N9ne (on a surprising cover of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out") and In This Moment's Maria Brink also appear on tracks. "We did the song with (Halford) first," Bathory says, "and it was such a fun thing that we got this itch to do more."

FFDP is currently spending its time on the road; after playing on this summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour the quintet is currently on its own headline run of North America into late October. It's also booked for the Shiprocked cruise out of Miami during January and will be part of the Soundwave Festival tour during February and March in Australia, and Bathory predicts "a solid two years of touring" for the troupe.

The recording gear is still out on the road, too, but Spencer says the band members haven't yet warmed to the idea of working on new material just yet.

"Right now we're good, man; we just got out of eight or none months of creating, so right now we're not in that mode," he says with a laugh. But we always have the gear with us, yes. It goes in cycles, and you've got to take a breather and regroup and then come back, otherwise you're not hungry work it. I want to do it when I'm feeling it rather than forcing it."

Five Finger Death Punch, Escape The Fate, Miss May I and Gemini Syndrome perform Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 and $29.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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