John 5

The Art of Malice

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Ghoulish makeup aside, John Lowery, aka John 5, is the type of guitar player who really doesn’t need gimmicks. No doubt about it, the boy can play. Coming off his record with Rob Zombie, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, he returned to the studio with Chris Baseford to make his Requiem follow-up and his fifth solo release, The Art of Malice. Like his last outing, the album is a showy clinic that demonstrates his speed and versatility on his signature Telecasters (his favorite being a custom 1964), and it would be nearly impossible to find someone faster. His picking is so rapid that it sounds like he has a plectrum glued on a drill-bit. But while he excels at lightning-fast scales and sweeps, he is still reaching to find his own voice. That said, he perfectly emulates the style of past guitar heroes, at times even outdoing them at their own game technically. "Ya Dig?” is a tribute to Van Halen, named for something Diamond Dave would say while John 5 was in the DLR ranks (and featuring Eat ‘Em and Smile bassist Billy Sheehan thumping away); “Portrayed as Unremorseful” apes Jimmy Page with a snip of Zep's “Heartbreaker” solo played over chords from “Rock and Roll"; and “Fractured Mirror” is a cover of a song by the man who inspired him to pick up a guitar and paint his face, Ace Frehley. Along with the blistering rockers, the acoustic “The Last Page Turned,” the slide-based “Can I Live Again,” and the incredible chicken pickin’ of “J.W.” demonstrate his versatility nicely. Most guitarists will be too impressed by the specifics of his playing to notice that The Art of Malice is worn territory.

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