Produced by Sid Riggs and John 5. Executive Producer John 5. Mastered by Undercurrent Studios. Engineered and programmed by Sid Riggs. Mixed by Sid Riggs.
- John 5 — Guitars, banjo, bass
- Piggy D — Bass
- Matt Bissonette — Bass
- Sid Riggs — Drums
- Tommy Clufetos — Drums
- First victim
- The werewolf of Westeria (feat. Joe Satriani)
- 27 needles
- Bella kiss
- Black widow of La Porte (feat. Jim Root)
- Welcome to the jungle
- Harold rollings hymn
- Dead art in Plainfield
- Young thing
- The washing away of the wrong (feat. Eric Johnson)
- July 31st (the last stand)
This is an album that really surprised me: it was really not what I expected it to be. I was expecting an album of heavy, industrial music but what I got was something akin to a portfolio of someone about to graduate from the Guitar Institute of Technology.
Like many people, I suspect, I only knew John 5 (not to be confused with Johnny Five of the Short Circuit movie!) as the guitarist with the Marilyn Manson band. I had no idea that he’d released a solo album (he’s released seven) or that he was no longer the MM guitarist.
Born John William Lowery in 1971, his music career in fact goes back to about 1987. In 1996 he teamed up with Rob Halford and Sid Riggs (who produced, engineered and mixed this album) for an industrial-inspired album, under the band name 2wo; the album was remixed by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails). Following that he played for Dave Lee Roth (1998-2003), Marilyn Manson (1998-2004), Loser (2005-2006), and for the last seven years has been playing in Rob Zombie’s band (2005-present). This is John 5’s third solo album.
Conceptually the album, which is entirely instrumental, is themed around serial killers. In an interview with Ultimate Guitar in 2007 John 5 explained,
All of the song titles are (taken from) serial killer quotes except ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Young Thing’, which are both covers.
‘First Victim,’ ‘The Werewolf of Westeria,’ and ’27 Needles’ are all references to serial killers. For an example, ‘The Werewolf of Westeria’ is a title they gave to Albert Fish; he was a cannibal and someone who ate his victims. Also ’27 Needles’ is a reference to Albert Fish because when they put him in jail, they gave him an x-ray to see if he was healthy and stuff, and there were 27 needles in his groin. He used to put these needles up inside him for pleasure and they stayed there for years.
The album opens with “First Victim”, a short track that is mostly a dirge which I suspected was played in true rock ‘n’ roll style with a violin bow à la Jimmy Page. (It is.)
The first time I listened to “The werewolf of Westeria” my immediate thought was, “Oh, that sounds just like Joe Satriani. It is Joe Satriana. That would explain that, then. It’s shred-tastic!
I’ve just asked my two year old, Isaac, who has just wandered in to help review the rest of this album:
- “27 Needles”: Isaac what do you think of that? “Monkey!” Do you like it? “No!”
- “Bella Kiss”: Isaac likes this one, although he prefers to call it “Bella Poop”.
- “Black Widow of La Porte”: Isaac thinks this one sounds like poop. I really like this track, which features Jim Root of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame.
- “Welcome to the jungle”: A good name for a track, he thinks, and he’s just likened it to “The wheels on the bus”. This is a fabulous cover version: very accurate, but I feel really misses the vocals.
- “Harold Rollings Hymn”: He likes this one. He likes the man speaking at the start of it. Which is curious as it’s one of the spookiest sounding tracks on the album.
- “Young Thing”: Isaac thinks his song sounds fun. He just told me that the man is playing a guitar. It’s got a country/bluegrass feel. It sounds to me like a guitar magazine exercise track.
- “The washing away of the wrong”: He thinks the song title sounds like someone having a bath on the naughty step. He doesn’t like the music, though because it’s too widdly. It is rather widdly and sounds a bit like the album has come round full circle to the Satch track.
- “July 31st (The last stand)”: After quite a bit of deliberation he decided he didn’t like it. His reason: “cos”. Oh, and it’s too loud, he says. I really like this track which opens with a kind of echo-y guitar effect before a spooky sounding guitar melody joins in. I could imagine this track being played over film credits.
Isaac’s summary is that, taking everything into account he thought the whole album was “rubbish”. I don’t I would be quite so harsh, to be honest. The album has grown on me a bit this week. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening to it and delving a little deeper into it.
I find more than a fair share of instrumental guitar albums are little more than over-indulgent shred-fests that forgets the song and the listener, while the guitarist is having the time of (usually) his life.
But while this album has its fair share of shredding it does sound like the songs come first, and the album is all the better for it. This one is definitely going to stay in my collection.
My favourite tracks: “The werewolf of Westeria” (featuring Joe Satriani), “Black widow of La Porte” (featuring Jim Root), and “July 31st (the last stand)”.
Review score: 85%