Tight, tuneful, highly impactful songs have helped make Five Finger Death Punch one of the premier metal bands of recent times (their latest release, The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 1, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard in July). And so it should come as no surprise that when guitarist Jason Hook sat down to compile his list of essential guitar albums, he had an overarching criterion in mind.
“You have to have good songs," he says. "Let’s be honest: Nobody wants to hear a good guitarist playing over shit songs. There’s certainly a lot of examples of that out there. If you don’t want to listen to an album, it doesn’t matter how brilliant the guitar player is. But cool guitar parts over fantastic songs – that’s the best of both worlds, and that’s what makes a an essential guitar album."
Hook is loathe to name names, but he does admit that certain records by some of guitardom's most celebrated players have left him cold. "People have said to me, ‘Oh, so-and-so is an awesome player, you gotta check this record out,' but the songs were such stinkballs that I just couldn’t jam to them," he says. "And really, why wouldn’t you have killer songs? Give me the whole package."
When it comes to his own guitar playing, Hook's influences, many of whom are represented on his list of essential guitar albums, are never far from his thoughts. "If you hear some of the bends that I do, that's from listening to Neal Schon," he says. "There’s bits and pieces of so many guys that I put into a juicer, and it all becomes my style. It's all based on the various elements of guys who came before me. Take from the best, you know?"
Five Finger Death Punch's next album, The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 2, will be released on 19 November.