All songs written by John 5. Recorded at the Chop Shop in Hollywood, California, USA. Produced by Chris Baseford and John 5. Executive producer—John 5. Mastered by Undercurrent Studios. Engineered by Chris Baseford. Assistant engineer—Will Thompson. Released on Mascot Records in 2008.
This is the second John 5 CD that I’ve reviewed, at the end of last year I listened to The Devil Knows My Name (2007) and gave it a complementary 85%. How does this, its sequel, compare?
It’s great! There are still elements of portfolio-of-someone-about-to-graduate-from-the-Guitar-Institute-of-Technology but overall this is a heavier, more focused album in my opinion. With smatterings of finger-pickin’ bluegrass an’ banjo!
The album opens with “Sounds of impalement” which is reminds me of a cross between Stone Sour and Steve Vai. It’s rocky, it’s fun.
Next up is the Alice In Chains-like “Heretic’s Fork” which opens with a riff that’s not a million miles away from “We die young” from Facelift (1990), until it’s reveals its true widdly-heart. A tune that certainly gets my head nodding every time.
“Noisemaker’s Fire” sounds like a bluegrass track that’s been recorded in a room full of cine projectors and dot matrix printers. About halfway through, though, it seems to employ almost exactly the same riff as “Heretic’s Fork”. This gives these couple of tracks a kind of suite feel to it. I like it.
Track 4 “Pity belt” is the first track I would likely skip, to be honest. More bluegrass-style picking along to a drum kit in the background; thin sound; not my thing. However, it inspires the widdle-tastic and very much electric “Cleansing the soul”, so I guess it stays on my playlist.
“The Judas cradle” (track 6) opens with strings and an intriguing arpeggio that soon bursts into a Black Sabbath-style riff that is both dark and haunting. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
“Pear of anguish” features the only vocals on the album, even if those are slowed down speech. More bluegrass style banjo pickin’. A cheesy little portion of silliness.
“The lead sprinkler” sees the album retreat to the darker places once again. More Steve Vai or Joe Satriani-like widdling.
“Scavenger’s daughter” opens with a delicate tune picked out on guitar, beneath the rumbling drums and the frosty winds of Hoth that then explodes into a Slayer-like riff that absolutely rips! The flight of the bumblebee arpeggio runs kind of spoil it a little for me but whenever John 5 returns to the Slayer-like riff he wins me over again.
The album closes with the title track “Requiem”. It’s experimental (squeaks and squeals, reverbed drums, samples of guitar) and really quite interesting. It builds and builds towards the end, and closes with a picked guitar arpeggio (is there any other kind?) that is reminiscent of the intro to Slayer’s “Seasons in the abyss”. It is quite emotive and very atmospheric.
All in all a great album by all accounts. While the banjo and bluegrass-style portions don’t exactly float my boat I can forgive John 5 for these. They reflect his style and his interests (rather than mine), and they are neither indulgent nor played to death. Besides they often inspire the following track, giving a more coherent and interdependent feel to the album. There is always plenty more to interest the listener. And this listener in particular. Good stuff!
Review score: 90%