Pity not John 5. He may owe much of his celebrity, possibly his trademark Joker makeup, and all of his stage moniker (real name John Lowery) to Marilyn friggin' Manson, of all ghouls, but his career continues to flourish as a cod-industrial-metal celebrity sideman (currently scowling on-stage with Rob Zombie), studio session ace, and solo guitar hero, as his sixth album of this stripe, 2012's God Told Me To, clearly shows. In short, he's very much his own man...God told him so, and the diversity of this set should tell you so. Ranging from the predictable to the anything but, these tracks manage to substantiate 5's versatile guitar talents in ways his cartoonish on-stage persona never will, and thus one is left asking why he even bothers, but perhaps he just plain likes it, so sue him. In any case, the greasy slide guitars of "Welcome to Violence" blast Ministry's "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" off to Planet Shred, while sonic polar opposites like "Asland Bump" and "The Castle" pay all-acoustic tribute to the pastoral Welsh cottage of "Bron-Yr-Aur" (see Zeppelin, Led; Page, Jimmy). Elsewhere, "Killa Fornia," "The Hill of the Seven Jackals," and "The Lust Killer" point straight to guitar hero ground zero with their Satriani and Vai-isms, yet "Creepy Crawler" is a richly orchestrated ballad and the aptly named "Noche Acosador" delivers a striking display of classical Spanish guitar. Then there's his curiously faithful, all-instrumental cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," which not only sees 5 mimicking every inflection of Michael's vocals with his six-string, but later proving he can rip off Eddie Van Halen's solo to the very last note -- a nod to his onetime David Lee Roth band association, perhaps. In sum: what we have here is a very eclectic and accomplished LP. Nothing terribly original for the guitar hero format, but decidedly so for 5 himself, and it's nice to see his talent upstaging his image for a change. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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