John 5 – The Art of Malice released May 11, 2010 on 60 Cycle Hum Records/Rocket Science Ventures: mindovermetal.org/review-john-5-the-art-of-malice/
Rating : 3.5/5
John 5 is a jack-of-many-trades when it comes to guitar. We just heard some of his work on Rob Zombie‘s Hellbilly Deluxe 2 earlier this year, although that album wrapped up recording in 2008 (the year his fourth solo effort, Requiem, was released). I was apprehensive approaching The Art of Malice because I have not seen a color scheme like this since Jack Johnson‘s Curious George soundtrack. Thankfully, it is virtuosic yet listenable, humorous and heavy, with a unique stamp that is nearly complete.
Opener and lead single “The Nightmare Unravels” is the best, biggest, and flashiest original number here, where he pulls out all the stops to better slacken your jaw. The closest competitor is “Ya Dig?” (in sly salute to“Diamond” Dave), which features none other than Billy Sheehan (they both played with DLR, albeit a decade apart). But the obvious tribute is found in “Fractured Mirror” from Ace Frehley‘s eponymous solo album, which receives loving treatment on The Art of Malice. I never noticed how much that song reminds me of Ozzy‘s “You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll” before now.
John 5 will surprise you, too. He reminds us that one of his toes always dips into country, as he demonstrates in “J.W.” (his first two initials, John William). And the slide guitar twang of “Can I Live Again” can wrench a tear from the driest eye. But my favorite smash into left field was certainly “Steel Guitar Rag”, which effectively transports the listener a century back.
“Portrayed as Unremorseful” gives more than one nod to Mr. Joe Satriani for the duration, and sidesteps intoLed Zeppelin‘s “Heartbreaker” for half a minute in the middle. I also like the feral cat yowls he elicits from his instrument throughout “Wayne County Killer” (named after murderer Chad Campbell). After revving up one last time in “The S-Lot”, “The Last Page Turned” lets you down easy with beautifully intricate acoustic work.
John 5 is an artist determined to flourish in the music world. By continuously challenging himself, he has shared the stage with musicians as disparate as Marilyn Manson and k.d. lang. On The Art of Malice, his signature sound (by way of Fender Telecaster) becomes all the more recognizable.
Try 1, 5, 7, 9