John 5 – God Told Me To
The disciplined fury of John 5’s fretboard fireworks scorches even hotter on this new release when set against the quieter acoustic cuts. Contrasting contemplation against recklessness, he deliberately spotlights the widening gap between his trademark electric guitar methods and the new acoustic direction. Curiously, the acoustic tracks end up pulling a deeper, chillier resonance than John’s usual thrash-meets-industrial horror show. Flamenco-inspired “Noche Acosador” and brooding country blues “Ashland Bump” show how much tension John 5 is learning to project through tasteful probing of traditional genres.
But none of the virtuosic polish of his acoustic guitar delivery prepares you for the biggest highlight of the album – “The Lie You Live.” At once elusive and grippingly urgent, it achieves its purpose by doing away with flashy technique, bringing to light a profoundly reflective side to John 5 that has often remained obscured with his chops and his calculated brutality. Through the measured stealth of his fine-spun fingerpicking, he manages to convey more anguish than any of his previous slasher-flick stunts. The result strikes at the crux of the nameless, overcast part of human nature every artist sooner or later comes face to face with.
The encounter suddenly reveals a new dimension of his character and a purpose greater than technical skill or image. Rob Zombie, with his fixation on violence, may have influenced the frenzied electric elements on this record stronger than ever before, but that approach is old news. The future seems to lie in the emerging acoustic guitar route leading to a new, enriched identity for one of rock’s greatest modern-day virtuosos.