2015 has been a great year for Five Finger Death Punch, between having a major main stage slot at Download, Having a top 10 album with ‘Got Your Six’ and selling out Wembley Arena, you can safely say they have officially arrived at the top of the mountain.
It would appear that even having terror threats and the replacement of 2 of tonight’s support bands was going to stop Five Finger Death Punch from having their moment in the sun, as they are here in a defiant mood and raring to go.
But before we get to the main course, we have the starters, in Arcane Roots, As Lions and special guests Skindred who are here in place of Papa Roach.
Arcane Roots are up first and are probably on paper the most out-of-place band on the bill, but actually do surprisingly well for themselves. They put in a strong showing and are a far heavier prospect than I was expecting them to be, reminding me a lot of an early, yet somewhat angrier Biffy Clyro with their angular riffs and jugular ripping screams, they are a powerful opener that manages to get even the most cynical metal head awake and moving.
As Lions, fronted by former Rise to Remain frontman Austin Dickinson, bound onstage and look to bring the first real dose of metal to tonight’s proceedings. I can honestly say that first and foremost, this is an outfit that is much tighter in execution and with a more defined sound than that of Dickinson’s previous band. It seems that time away from the stage hasn’t slowed down his stage antics either, whether its throwing t-shirts into the audience or getting pits moving, it’s clear that he feels right at home. As Lions themselves are more mature and focused sounding than their limited time together would suggest and if they can harness this energy onto their upcoming debut album then they could have a real winner on their hands.
Skindred are possibly the greatest live band on the planet. The band you want on your bill, but most likely wouldn’t want to go on after. It’s a shame that Papa Roach couldn’t play, but Skindred do everything in their power to make sure they more than compensate for their absence. If Benji isn’t telling the crowd how bollocks they are being (in jest obviously), he is encouraging them to jump, dance and wave-like the queen, they drop a dubstep version of Last Resort over the P.A midset, and get a 14,000 strong Newport Helicopter going, which is quite the sight to behold. Skindred are also a band that aren’t short on absolute bangers, and tonight they roll them all out in glorious fashion. It goes without saying that even though they weren’t originally on the bill, Skindred more than held their own tonight, and put in the kind of performance that could one day seem them promoted to headliners of this very venue themselves one day.
However good the supports have been though, there is no denying who everyone is here to see. As the members of Five Finger Death Punch stride confidently onto the stage, they are greeted with a heroes welcome. Opening with a particularly fierce ‘Lift me Up’ for the next hour and a bit, this place belongs to them. It’s no secret that Five Finger Death Punch are an amazing live band, anyone that has every seen them will attest to that, but even still they have ascended to arena status in comfortable style and it seems that even with pyro, flames and all the usual arena trappings, the focus is solely on them.
Most of the set may be made up from the bands most recent albums ‘Got your Six’ and the 2 part opus ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous side of Hell’ when the band does dig back into their older material, you can see where the progression has come, but even still it shows a well roundedness to their sound, and how they have evolved since they first hit these shores 6 years ago.
This will mark the third time a huge metal bill has hit Wembley this year, and it is probably the most memorable, a whirlwind of circle pits, fire, fans in hospital beds watching from the balcony (who has the song ‘Burn it Down’ dedicated to him) and a curious accapella sing along of ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis that helps to punctuate a triumphant evening by a band that is on the top of their game, riding on a high that can only get higher from here.
It’s further proof that metal is not only alive and well, but quite possibly bigger and more unstoppable than it has been for a long long time; and as the final strains of ‘The Bleeding’ ring out and the show comes to an end, it would be a pretty safe bet to say that we will see Five Finger Death Punch headline the Download Festival in the next 2 years.