Five Finger Death Punch’s Chris Kael on His Five Favorite Extreme Metal Albums

We know, comments section. This isn’t what you expected to read on Decibel‘s website, but when we found out that Five Finger Death Punch bassist Chris Kael is a huge fan of extreme metal, we decided to pick his brain about his five favorite albums. Kael’s list is interesting, largely because it probably has some overlap with yours. In fact, two of his picks have a home in the Decibel Hall of Fame. Read on to find out what Kael considers his favorite extreme metal records, or proceed directly to our Facebook page to complain.

Five Finger Death Punch’s new albumAnd Justice for None, is out on May 18. They are currently on tour supporting that album.

Slayer – Reign in Blood

Reign in Blood is honestly my favorite record of all time. For a while, it was a toss up between that and Master of Puppets, but over the years, just more and more appreciate the intensity that Reign in Blood has. That was a pivotal change in my musical development because I was listening to the KISS and the Mötley Crüe and the Ratts before that, and Reign in Blood came and flipped everything on its head and changed everything for me.

Over the years I’ve had a chance to meet and become friends with Kerry King and I’ve had the opportunity to pick his brain about it and one interesting thing, I was like “When you wrote Reign in Blood, did you realize you wrote Reign in Blood?” And he was like “No, man, it just felt like any other album. We were in the process.”

Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us

That one seems to the Reign in Blood of Nails for me. Real quick, right into the songs, short and fast with the exception of that long song at the end where they kind of combine the riffs. But just the intensity reminded me of the passion and the intensity that Reign in Blood had. I’ve been a fan of Nails since Unsilent Death and it kind of came out of nowhere.

I was like “Man, this band’s incredible” and I think they were firing on all cylinders for You Will Never Be One of Us. That’s one band that’s on the bucket list that I still haven’t had a chance to see live that I’m hoping to see that I’m hoping to see in the near future. They were playing in LA, probably a year and a half ago, and I didn’t go to that show thinking I was gonna see them on upcoming festivals and they went on a hiatus after that LA show and I was like “Of course I didn’t go to that show!”

They’re intense [live]. They just really go for it. Todd [Jones] knows how to get a crowd riled up.
I don’t know him personally but I’ve talked to him personally a couple times once he found out I was a fan of Nails. I was putting the name Nails out there a lot in interviews because I was wanting other people to seek them out and find them as well. If I ever did a side project, Todd would be one of the people I’d want to help with that sort of thing. I love his intensity and his approach and his commitment to hardcore as well. I’ve always had hardcore in the blood as a teenager. Maybe someday, once things slow down, but I’m cool if things don’t slow down.

Code Orange – Forever

The thing I love about Code Orange is that there are no rules. You go from an incredibly heavy song right into “Bleeding in the Blur,” something pretty–well, I won’t say pretty but it’s got more melodic elements to it. All the breaks, the industrial vibe to it, it’s something unlike I’ve ever heard before. I’m looking forward to seeing where those guys are going. I talk to Jami [Morgan, drummer/vocalist] regularly and he’s always letting me know about the recording process and how things are going. I really, really like those guys. I know they’ve been getting a lot of accolades from other guys in rock and metal. Accolades well deserved to those guys. Young and fiery and hungry and just great writing that I’ve never heard from anybody else before. They definitely have a sound unique and all their own.

Terrorizer – World Downfall

I enjoy Napalm Death and Napalm Death is what got me into Terrorizer. With that Terrorizer record, it’s a nice mix of bringing in hardcore music to extreme metal. Once you asked me for this list the other day, I pulled Terrorizer back out, World Downfall. Even so many years now, I can still pull that one out and have those same feelings that I had the first time I heard it. It’s always hearing that mix of hardcore, metal and kind of combining it into grindcore.

Did you see them when they played World Downfall at Maryland Deathfest?
No, I did not. I believe I was on the road. I remember seeing that they were doing that and kicking myself that “Oh, man, I have to work.” I guess there’s worse problems to have than not being able to see Terrorizer because I have to go play with Five Finger Death Punch.

Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales

There was a friend of mine named Ryan Miller. We used to always go to the park and listen to new music at the baseball field that was always there. He had this huge–it was called a boombox back then–player, it was loud. We spent many an afternoon going over Celtic Frost at that baseball field. “Dethroned Emperor” is one of the first songs that I learned how to play, it was guitar at that time. Started off with guitar, didn’t really like the feel for it, picked up a bass and was like “Ah, this is where it’s supposed to be!”

Just the riffs on that, the album cover. I even remember in junior high, I hand painted the cover for Morbid Tales on the back of my jean jacket. That’s how God damn metal I am! I love that record. That’s my favorite Celtic Frost record for sure. Introduced the slower, at that point. You’ve got “Into the Crypts of Rays” which has a fast vibe to it, but just those slow breakdowns, chugging riffs were different than what I was listening to at that point. Kind of changed things for me as a listener.

I think that’s the first time I ever saw any band wearing corpse paint, so that spawned a whole new thing as well. The aesthetic of metal.

Are these records that influence you when you write and play and record [for Five Finger Death Punch]?
One thing that I would say in my own writing is those records are timeless. I can put those records on and still have the same emotions I felt when I first heard those. Takes me back and puts me into the junior high and high school, all those memories come rushing back. I think that’s the goal for any band, to be able to have those timeless records. They don’t sound dated, they’re able to bring you back to a time whether it’s good or whether bad. It transports you back in to those times in life. I think that’s the main goal, is just creating timeless records, not necessarily the same style as the stuff I mentioned in this interview but definitely want to have timeless records and I think that’s something we try to do as well.

I love doing interviews like this as well because Five Finger Death Punch, we have a huge audience who may not be familiar with these older records, so I always enjoy kind of putting it out there. If I’m a fan of a band, I always put it out there in hopes people who listen to Five Finger Death Punch will find Celtic Frost or Terrorizer, even Morbid Angel and all that stuff. When I Was growing up, the reason I found the Misfits was because of Metallica wearing their shirts. You’ll see me wearing shirts of bands that I listen to in the hope of catching the eye of the listener of those who watch the shows or see the pictures.

How did you get into extreme metal?
I had a friend in junior high named Donovan and he was always wearing a Slayer shirt. I hadn’t heard Slayer at that point. Seeing his shirt and knowing him, I ended up picking up Reign in Blood on my own from the record store. At that point, I was starting to take more chances as well. Even if I hadn’t heard music from a band, if I enjoyed the album cover and it stuck out to me–a huge one for that would’ve been Scream Bloody Gore by Death. I’d heard none of their music, saw that album cover and was like “Oh my God, I have to get this.”