John 5 has had such an extensive career. It expands over two decades, and he’s been involved with so many projects and contributions that it takes up several pages on his own website.
Beginning at 17 as a session guitarist, John 5 went on to write and record with both Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, as well as performing for Alice Cooper and assisting in Static-X‘s 2007 album, ‘Cannibal’. Now with ten solo albums, we experience his latest offering, ‘Invasion’.
The titular opening track pounds with distant drums and ominous bass notes that would at be home introducing a live band, action video game, or even a horror movie. Steadily building up with a larger arrays of instruments, from tribal war drums to dramatic sweeping background synths, it’s certainly an emphatic beginning.
Bringing some jazz mentality to proceedings, ‘Zoinks!’ has a light hearted mixture of rock ‘n’ roll with free styling guitars that interchange in between rhythm and lead sections to present the dexterity of John 5‘s guitar skills.
Whirling down the freeway like a scene out of The Blues Brothers or a Scooby Doo cartoon chase section, ‘Howdy’ is a fast-paced and jovial jaunt into American country and blues. Eventually the speed ramps up to the ridiculous before abruptly ending with each instrument getting a section to shine through in a brief solo.
Returning to familiar territory, ‘I Want It All’ is a showcase of John 5‘s metal prowess, combining guitar solos with complex and aggressive rhythms, time changes in abundance, and 90s synths. It’s a grateful change in scenery.
Closing out proceedings, ‘Constant Sorrow’ is a country track stripped back just to the electric guitar element. For those of you who are movie buffs, you may remember that the soundtrack to O’ Brother Where Art Thou? has a song called ‘I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow’, and, while this isn’t a direct cover, it’s more than likely a homage played in the style of that track to enable John 5 to display the array of styles that he has in his guitar arsenal.
The problem is that ‘Invasion’ feels like someone sent it in with their CV attached, hoping to land more work rather than a concept or original album. It’s certainly true that someone of John 5‘s stature shouldn’t be fishing for work, but it feels like that if you opened the physical album, you’d find his rate card inside.
BSc (Hons) Audio and Recording Technology Graduate| Bass Guitarist | The Old Guy at Festivals