Life Music Media reviews The Art of Malice

John 5 “The Art of Malice” CD Review: Ben Hosking:

While ‘The Art of Malice’ is an instrumental album; you probably don’t need to be a guitarist to know who John 5 is. John 5 has played guitar for Marilyn Manson and is the current axeman in Rob Zombie’sband. Rubbing shoulders with two of the freakiest dudes in modern rock/metal surely goes some way to explaining John 5’s compulsion to shave his eyebrows and apply the face paint.

The Art of Malice is John 5’s third solo effort and shows the country-infused chicken-pickin’ shredder continuing to expand his chops and grow as a songwriter. Where ‘Requiem’ and Songs for Sanity affirmed his place in the pantheon of interesting and intense guitar instrumentalists, ‘The Art…” will go a long way to securing his position as an equally interesting songwriter as well.

For newcomers to the crazy world of John 5, it’d be all too easy to pass him off on the strength of his visual appearance. Don’t judge a book by its cover. John 5 is well known within guitar circles for his different take on what shred is meant to be with skills like string bending behind the nut and his choice of the Fender Telecaster isn’t exactly the norm’ for creating killer licks.

No, John 5 is not all about metal. He’s not all about rock, shock or anything else. The Art of Malicecontains moments of countrified quirkiness like the hybrid-picked mayhem of ‘JW’ and the steel guitar meanderings of, well… ‘Steel Guitar Rag’. Country even finds its way into more conventional-sounding rock tunes like ‘The Nightmare Unravels’ through his use of hybrid picking – a style that when used correctly can greatly increase the number of notes you can play per minute.

The Art of Malice is a dynamic record that peaks and troughs well throughout its 12 tracks. Just as you get comfy immersing yourself within the drama of slower tracks like ‘Can I live Again’ and the tension of ‘Fractured Mirror’, you’re beaten over the head by thrashy outbursts and millions of notes in tracks like ‘Portrayed as Unremorseful’.

John 5’s new disc even offers some cool guest spots, like Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, et al) playing bass on ‘Ya Dig?’ and Tommy Clufetos (Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper) playing drums throughout.

Whether you’re new to John 5’s idiosyncratic style or an existing fan, The Art of Malice is one you’re going to want in your collection or on your playlist. In a world of ‘same same’ solo guitarists,John 5 stands out as an unrepentant individualist. He has more talent in his one eyebrow than most players have in their whole bodies. Try him out.