New Metal, Old Story

In a post-Miley Cyrus world, people of a certain vintage are (again) all twerked-up over young people and their pop culture landscape. It was in this context I checked out the video for “Coming Down” by L.A. nu-metal outfit Five Finger Death Punch. The video, off their 2011 release American Capitalist, tells parallel storylines: A young man commits suicide in front of his parents; a young woman violently vomits, having overdosed on pills, distraught over a sexting scandal.

The song is a textbook metal ballad: ’80s-style double bass drum meets a shredding guitar solo while vocalist Ivan Moody apes ’90s grunge in a crooning baritone. He sings: “It’s caving in around me / there’s darkness all around,” before barking, “It’s ok for you to hate me.” Overall, the video and song heavily recall Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” I hear the audience they’re aiming for, and I’m OK admitting it isn’t me. I also know how meaningful it can be for teens to feel a band gets them.  But this brings me to just what bugs me about Cyrus and Five Finger Death Punch: The “edginess” just isn’t new anymore.

In late July Five Finger Death Punch released volume one of The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell (volume two is expected later this year). Like its previous efforts, metal’s usual touchstones are referenced: angsty Seattle hard rock, Metallica, Megadeth. Judas Priest’s Rob Halford even appears on “Lift Me Up.” These guys are a formidable and respectable metal band, and the catharsis of heavy music abides, but just don’t expect the wheel to be reinvented by Five Finger Death Punch anytime soon.

Five Finger Death Punch plays with Escape The Fate, Miss I May and Gemini 6:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 18, at McDonald Theatre; $29.50 adv., $35 door.