Friday, March 10, 2017

RECORD REVIEW: John 5 and the Creatures "Season of the Witch"

John 5 and the Creatures
Season of the Witch
(60 Cycle Hum)

Imagine a bakery case beaming
brightly, brimming with an array
of colorful, tasty, aural treats 
all prepared to perfection with an
industrial-tinged metallic glaze. 

The latest solo slab from John 5 is, in reality, an irresistible ensemble endeavor. In fact, I'm not so sure who's the bigger badass — the renown guitar guru gracing the album's front cover, or his two equally impressive "Creatures."

Now, I'm no muzo (myo͞oz-ō). I don't know a pentatonic from a gin and tonic. But I do know that Telecasters are cool, Marshalls are cool, and shredding can be cool. And in that regard, Season of the Witch is exactly what a great guitar record should be — oozing ferociously crisp and clean, blister-inducing, non-stop shredding — but without any embarrassing sticky discharge. And the record's noteworthy highlights are seemingly infinite.

Powerful and throaty, "Guitars, Tits and Monsters" is all nuts and guts. And while "Now Fear This" and "Making Monsters" are both straight-up, foot-through-the-floor, Camaro-style rockers, “Triple D” is a stripped-down, cigarette-worthy seduction — showcasing 5 shredding completely on his own.

John 5 onstage w/ Rob Zombie - 2013
(Photo: Rob Fenn)
As for the record's super-highlights, “Black Grass Plague” is a bona fide, no-holds-barred, metal-meets-bluegrass juggernaut. Yet, despite the titillating, go for the throat factor of the track's first three minutes, it's the last 60 seconds that provide the true payoff with 5 blazing on banjo, bassist Ian Ross channeling Jerry Peek, and Rodger Carter detonating an arena-sized drum grenade. Conversely, “Behind the Nut Love” rings honest and pure — in an organic Zeppelin III vein. Lusciously laid back, this country-tinged gem is undeniably one of the record's brightest moments.

Another super-exciting track, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” is, as they say, "the whole enchilada." Turbo-charged metal guitar riffage pinned to Tony Levin-caliber bass work, and carried masterfully into a Kansas-style climax. Doggonit, man! But by simply applying an old fashioned Chet Atkins-style shellac finish to a George and Ira Gershwin classic, “Hell Haw” is perhaps the surprise secret toy buried at the bottom of this sweet and crunchy box of Cracker Jack. (A+)

-Christopher Long
(March 2017)

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