Not even a puncher's chance

Not even a puncher's chance
Reviewer: JoshuaBBuhs
Rate this Review
Rate this Reviewer
Rate this Book
Death Punch'd:
Surviving Five Finger Death Punch's Metal Mayhem
304 pages
March 07, 2016
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Inside account of one of the most successful heavy-metal bands of the past decade, and a revealing personal journey through the wild highs and terrifying lows of the rock and roll lifestyle.

Not turtles, it's clichés all the way down.

I do not doubt Jeremy Spencer's sincerity. He went through Hell. He worked himself out of it. These are good things. I salute him.

But I have to evaluate this as a reader, and as a reader I have to say, it's not very good. The writing is stilted; the attempts at humor fail — and not, primarily, because they are sophomoric. But because they don't scan. (What's the secret of comed--Timing!--dy?).

The story is a more graphic version of every "Behind the Music" episode. Spencer started to make it in music. But he was derailed by sex, drugs, and booze, which had him doing awful, disgusting things to continue to get high — on chemicals or vaginas. The book itself announces its own standard format. Alice Cooper — who seems to be somewhat connected to Spencer — announces "One of the best rock 'n' roll, addiction and redemption stories since Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries." Which, if you parse it, means this is only "one" of the best in this very niche genre to appear . . . in 7 years. (Sixx's book came out in '07, this in '14). That's about as weak and generic a recommendation as possible.

If the reader wants to learn anything about the music, the process of its making, or what the metal scene is like — look elsewhere. It's not even clear why Spencer prefers Metal. He likes Kiss. (Kiss!) And in the most revealing (and embarrassing) section rhapsodizes about the wonders of '80s' music, including Phil Collins. (Maybe he liked the drums on "In the Air Tonight"?) He also seems to be a big fan of Duran Duran. Apart from the questionable aesthetic sensibility this all implies, one never understands why metal music was so important to Spencer.

But even if one wants to learn something about Spencer and his three Rs-story— rebellion, ruin, redemption —- one won't be satisfied. True enough, Spencer is willing to go into graphic detail of his sex, shitting, and vomiting life--enough that some of this is uncomfortable to read — but none of this reads as particularly revelatory.

Spencer uses clichés as a defense throughout the book. "Self hatred" and "addictive personality" read as excuses rather than reasons to become introspective. Every woman in the book is a "chick"; if there is alcohol, it will be "pounded." The women in the story are props, and Spencer does little to attempt to understand what in their life would encourage them to fuck a rock star in a used port-a-potty even as he is vomiting. There's a lot going on these moments gross though they are — but he opts for VH1 style recaps than exploration.

In the end, I'm not sure what the book is meant to show. There's nothing about music; Spencer's deep thoughts are hidden by clichéd walls. The only point seems to be that too much alcohol and cocaine is bad. (Indeed, comparing this with George Clinton's autobiography, it is clear that cocaine and its derivatives are especially nasty drugs.) We know this, though, and it is not clear to me who needs to be told yet again.