Sunday, 4 July 2010

John 5 - The Art of Malice

(To be printed in PowerPlay Magazine Issue 122)

From the blistering opening of 'The Nightmare Unravels' alone, it is clear that John 5 is a phenomenal guitarist - few others can match the sheer velocity of his playing. However, John 5 is more than just a one-trick pony, quickly turning his hand from Van Halen-esque shredding on tracks like 'Ya Dig?' (featuring fellow David Lee Roth Band alumni Billy Sheehan) to rapid banjo twanging on 'J.W.'. This country and western aspect to John 5’s playing is prevalent throughout the album. For instance, the guitar noodling of the title track shows off John 5’s chicken-picking chops whereas 'Steel Guitar Rag' is an exercise in country-blues stomping. Of course, it’s not all country bops. With John 5 probably most associated with industrial acts Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, there’s a fair share of metal on this platter. One of the more conventionally structured cuts, 'Wayne County Killer', opens with danger siren leads before moving on to apocalyptically fast guitar parts that would make even the likes of Alex Skolnick cower. Also of particular note is closer 'The Last Page Turned', which progresses charmingly from thumped acoustic chords to masterfully intricate interludes, creating a stunning end to the album.

The Art of Malice is a strong record that greatly displays John 5’s versatility as a musician, but will probably only truly entertain guitar enthusiasts. The technical feats achieved by John 5 will certainly wow and amuse music nerds, but the casual listener will find The Art of Malice quickly developing in to an indiscriminate mess of super-fast notes.

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