John5 may not be a household name to most people but I’m sure that most people would’ve heard of the artists John5 has played alongside over the years: Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Meatloaf, Lynyrd Skynyrd and KD Lang just to name a few. I first listened to John5’s solo work when he released “Songs for Sanity” album a few years back.
I’ve just spent the last 45 minutes or so plugged into John5’s latest offering “The Art of Malice”. One interesting aspect about this album are the sleeve notes, most noticeably Billy Sheehan playing bass on the track “Ya Dig” and the cover the Ace Frehley song “Fractured Mirror”.
As noted in my album review of Fullblast by Kiko Loureiro, I’m not the biggest fan of guitar instrumental albums, but I’m well aware of the versatility of John5’s playing and going by what his previous solo work is like, I already had high expectations for “The Art of Malice” and I’m pleased to say this album didn’t disappoint.
The album opens with dark edged rhythm guitars, some nice clean arpeggios in the background, then flowing into a blazing run of instrumental guitar lines that sound huge! The production sounds so good, with a full depth of layered guitars, excellent bass playing (played mostly by John5) and some awesome keyboard work used throughout the majority of the album.
As expected, the album starts off quite heavy with some very fast lead runs performed by John. It’s obvious that he’s a detailed, precise and creative player. The title track sounds almost medieval at times featuring a somewhat classical feel moving into Spanish flamenco style playing.
The track “J.W” moves into a more country feel and it’s a well known fact John5 is known for his love of country music – there’s some seriously impressive country licks on this track that would even convert me to country music!
“Can I Live Again” features some nice slides and bends – in fact, this is the standout track for me on the whole record. It has an anthem feel featuring nice keyboards and some stunning emotional guitar playing from John with not an ounce of shred in sight. I could play this to most people I know and I guarantee they would like it, a brilliant song that highlights in an instant how versatile John5 is.
The album chills out nicely and the cover of the Ace Frehley song, Fractured Mirror, is really impressive.
The final track has an acoustic feel and is a great way to finish a diverse and musical album.
In my opinion, John5 is one of the most versatile and exciting guitarists around. Even if you’re not into the heavier aspect of rock like Rob Zombie / Marilyn Manson, it doesn’t matter, as this album (like most of John5’s solo work) caters for a wide range of tastes and styles. I think you’ll really enjoy not just the variety of the music but also the extremely high level of musicianship.
“The Art of Malice” is packed with energy, variety and atmosphere and can be enjoyed by a wide range of people.
For more details about John5 visit: www.john-5.com