Five Finger Death Punch, Shadows Fall Restore Metal in the Queen City

This show was an interesting one to me for sure. First off, I had only seen Five Finger Death Punch one before, but in a festival setting, at Rockstar Mayhem, and had not seen Shadows Fall since they last toured with As I Lay Dying. I was interested to see FFDP in a club type setting, as well as see how Shadows Fall’s new material sounded live.

After God Forbid warmed things up – these guys have come a long way for themselves since the last time I saw them opening for Amen at the now defunct Backstage Pub – Shadows Fall made their long awaited (well, for me) return to Buffalo, and even though their set seemed short, they made every second count. They ripped through some of their best material with songs like ‘Inspiration on Demand,’ ‘Thoughts Without Words,’ ‘Still I Rise,’ and perhaps their best song put to wax yet, ‘the Idiot Box.’ The band highlighted their set with their cover of Ozzy’s classic ‘Bark at the Moon,’ which may not be one that many people in attendance have heard since it’s available only on the deluxe edition of the band’s latest “Retribution.” They brought to the table, well, OK, stage, exactly what I was hoping for – amazing drumming, soaring, shredding guitar work, and swirling, windmill headbangs, made better by the seemingly endless dreadlocks of frontman Brian Fair. Here, is a band that needs to come back to Buffalo very soon – please?

The crowd was getting restless during the ensuing wait between sets, chanting “Five Finger Death Punch,” before the band finally walked out on stage. Now, their set was good, sure, but too much of it made me think it was 2001 all over again when nu-metal ruled the day. Yes, FFDP is pretty much the second coming of the ill-fated genre, and they seemed too eager to embrace some of the stage theatrics those bands did back when, like attempting, but failing miserably, to conduct the ‘Wall of Death’ in the crowd, frontman Ivan Moody wearing a bulletproof vest that said “DICK,” and starting a chant by saying “Five Finger,” then having the crowd chant “Death Punch.” Honestly? I mean, I even thought it was cheesy when Disturbed did that almost a decade ago when they would say “We Are” and the crowd would respond “Disturbed.” Anyways, I digress. Their set was actually pretty good, opened interestingly enough with new song ‘Burn It Down,’ which was a great pick in hindsight, before touching on both new and old material in ‘Hard to See,’ ‘White Knuckles,’ ‘Dying Breed’ and ‘No One Gets Left Behind.’ The band ‘ended’ their set with ‘Meet the Monster’ before predictably encoring with ‘the Bleeding,’ but the true highlights of the set were quasi-ballad ‘Walk Away’ and Bad Company cover of the song ‘Bad Company.’ Moody sounded great the entire night, but the band was not much on the energy front, even though they had a definite stage presence. The crowd was into the show the entire time, never letting up for a second. Moody even invited fans to make their way up to the stage in order to shake his hand, which was a nice touch, making the show pretty personable.

Honestly, I thought FFDP would be better in an intimate setting, but I was not completely disappointed. The (pun intended) one-two punch of Shadows Fall then FFDP made for not only a great lineup on paper, but also great in execution on stage.