For tough guy, fist-in-the-air kicks, Five Finger Death Punch’s American Capitalist will fit the testosterone-heavy bill. Not a concept album decrying economic injustice, FFDP’s third studio album is a corny carnival of having the freedom to be an inconsiderate prick “buying in” to the wonders of capitalistic society. In these days of global Occupy Wall Street movements, it’s an interesting message to send.
It doesn’t help that the message feels like it’s been written by a fermenting 13-year-old male in a Staind t-shirt. Instead of providing an intricate examination of the state of American capitalism, the album is absorbed with perpetuating the “survival of the fittest” meme at all costs.
Vocalist Ivan Moody is generally fixated on anger with his delivery, but he sometimes wanders into areas of “surprising sensitivity” just to prove he’s got “range.” The whole “if you don’t like me, fuck you” attitude gets old in a hurry, although idiotically hostile and careless fans will probably defend it like a national treasure.
Musically, FFDP’s American Capitalist is undistinguished and silly. There are moments of attempted complexity (“Remember Everything”), but the album's slower pieces are predictable and watery. The crunch of guitars from Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook works out okay in heavier moments, but there’s no fun or innovation in their playing. Drummer Jeremy Spencer’s attack is standard fare.
With a name derived from martial arts movies and an album title (and cover) that ought to at least provoke some discussion, it’s a shame that FFDP’s American Capitalist is so bereft of content and style. Fans of milquetoast acts like Mudvayne and Disturbed will doubtlessly rock to cuts like “Wicked Ways” and the title track, but those looking for more substance won’t be fooled by the lameness here.
Consider “The Pride,” one of the stupidest songs I’ve come across in a long while. After rattling off a chain of brand names, pop culture icons and musical genres in list format, Moody pronounces “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in.” Some might consider the song to be ironic, but the band doesn’t seem to agree. In an interview, Moody compared American Capitalist to the movie Scarface and the magnificence of achieving “the American Dream.”
Or there’s the “I’m doing it for me and me alone” anthem “Menace,” with its “You can’t convince me that I’m wrong” pig-headedness.
Let’s not leave out the senseless indignation psalm of “100 Ways to Hate,” which declares “Hate your needs, hate your wants, hate the way you look and talk” with thoughtless elation.
This lack of gravity, both musically and lyrically, infests every single song on American Capitalist. When given the opportunity for scrutiny and distinction, FFDP swings in the direction of obdurate, knuckle-dragging manliness to celebrate blind white rage and unfettered selfishness.