What is there to say about John 5? Most famous for his work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, John 5 has a stellar career including stints with David Lee Roth on 1998’s DLR Band, 2wo with Rob Halford, and the band Loser. What makes John 5 so iconic in rock and roll is his ability to push boundaries, and play many different styles of music and not just the industrial metal for which he is known.
On his newest solo album, Season of the Witch, John 5 continues to show why he is such an “in demand” player. Season of the Witch features several forays outside of his normal style. Versed in country music and the art of “chicken pickin’,” his signature Telecaster rings thru on the track “Hell Haw,” as he challenges the best guitarists in Nashville and Memphis to keep up with him. His virtuosity is amazing, and to hear him on this tune playing “clean” is an auditory experience to behold. Although not nearly long enough, “Hell Haw” is a nice departure from what John 5 fans are used too. Many of Season of the Witch’s tracks feature his trademark work with Rob Zombie, featuring the monster movie taglines, the scary sounds and the incredible shredding.
“The Black Grass Plague” is an exercise in John 5’s flexibility on the fretboard, and it is a solid shredding track with a chicken pickin’ feel to it, but he is accompanied by a stellar banjo picker, as well as a bassist who joins John note for note on several breaks. “Guitars, Tits and Monsters” is an exercise in metal arpeggios and heavy groove-driven licks, complete with a funk inspired breaks right in the middle. Competing on an international level, and inspiring many guitarists, myself included, to use a Fender Telecaster to play metal because of the incredible tones that are available from it. On “Now Fear This” John 5 and the Creatures roll thru a straight-ahead rock and roll tune without the need for pyrotechnics and backing tracks. One of the few straight rock tunes on Season of the Witch, “Now Fear This” is an ear-splitting, fast-driving rocker that would feel at home when John 5 was the budding superstar, sharing the stage with the legendary David Lee Roth and the DLR Band. On “Making Monsters,” a Zombie style opening leads to an exercise in sweep picking and song construction, mixing heavy riffs, incredible speed and technicality, along with more arpeggiated riffology. “The Macabre” features a fly buzzing into the mic for background noise, and a slowed down tempo which is a nice change of pace. “DDD” is another ode to the female form, and a complete destruction of the fretboard. Very coarse and chunky, “DDD” delivers more of John 5’s virtuosity featuring a call and repeat style of songwriting. Title track “Season of the Witch” is the industrial thrash tune on the album and it flat out COOKS. Filled with dissonant chords and lead breaks, this is the album’s signature tune, as it should be. Filled with Zombie-esque background tracks, “Season of the Witch” is deservedly the best track on the album.
John 5 is a guitar player’s guitarist, replete with all the awe-inspiring shreddology of modern players such as Steve Vai, Marty Friedman and Yngwie Malmsteen. All of his influences shine thru on Season of the Witch, and portrayed by John 5 and the Creatures with masterful skill. If you don’t know John 5 other than his work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, Season of the Witch will open your eyes to how incredibly talented John 5 really is.