Zoltan Bathory is the founder and one of the guitarists of metal band Five Finger Death Punch. This guy's been getting some major props for his incendiary playing recently, featuring in our sister magazine Total Guitar's recent Modern Heavy Metal feature.
He's also received a new BC Rich signature axe, based on the existing Assassin Pro model. Zoltan's guitar takes that metal blueprint and runs with it. Bathory's custom spec Assassin couldn't be any more macho if it sported Burt Reynold's Smokey And The Bandit-era moustache.
It has a pointy reversed headstock, Mafia humbuckers, a Standing Lion fretboard inlay, wearing a knuckle duster crown (FFDP's logo) and brandishing a sword, and the volume and tone knobs are shaped like handgun cylinders. It's such an aggressive-looking beast we reckon it could get a part in The Expendables.
The good news is that you don't have to be a brute to handle Zoltan's guitar. The slim-profile neck and 24 jumbo frets make it a joy to play, regardless of what size your hands are. You couldn't ask for better upper fret access.
And while Zoltan's crushing tone is achieved by fitting his guitars with a custom heavy gauge string set (high to low: .013, .017, .028, .038, .048 and .062) and tuning down to B, BC Rich has played it safe and fitted light gauge strings.
The original Assassin Pro model boasts active EMG humbuckers but Zoltan has chosen a deuce of Rockfield Mafia pickups (fitted with powerful ceramic magnets) for the ASM, which can be coil-split for singlecoil tones.
The Rockfield 'buckers are a revelation. Thanks to those ceramic magnets and that hard ebony fingerboard, brutal metal riffs cut through without the slightest hint of muddiness - even in the neck position.
Taking Zoltan's cue we pumped up the mid control on our amp and the increase in attack blew us away. This guitar is a metal riffer's dream.
Zoltan's ASM is everything a great metal guitar should be. For a kick-off, it looks the absolute balls. Playability is first class and tuning stability is rock solid thanks to that Floyd Rose.
Granted, you'll either love or hate the stylistic touches, and some of you may worry about the lack of fingerboard inlays. But don't let that put you off. Add the tonal range that runs from singlecoil sweet to full-on brutality and we reckon the ASM is worth every penny of its £899 price tag. No question.