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John 5: Songs for Sanity

Songs for Sanity, the follow up to 2004's Vertigo, sees the former Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Rob Halford, and current Rob Zombie axe-man John 5 shred with creative and jaw dropping precision on twelve tracks that just drip with variety as well as scary technique. The guitarist doesn't let up for the entire CD, and kicks it off with the heavy rocker "Damaged", a song straight from the Satriani/Vai school of headbanging shred guitar firepower. In fact, Steve Vai guest for a few solos on the white-hot and symphonic "Perineum", but if you did not read the musician notes on the CD you would swear that you hear Vai all over the place. That's because John 5's style and technique is pretty much on par with the legendary Vai on all levels, which surprised the hell out of me. This guy can flat out play as well as create catchy instrumental songs. "Soul of a Robot" features industrial metal riffs and jaw dropping lead harmonies, while the guitarist's country/bluegrass side comes out in "Gein With Envy" as well as "Death Valley", a duet with Albert Lee. Fans of Steve Morse's work with the Dixie Dregs will absolutely love these two tunes.

On "Sin", the guitarist mixes atmospheric goth with industrial tones, and even goes for some down and dirty bluesy grind on the funky "Blues Balls". However, it's John 5's ability to combine metal shredding with fleet country picking that makes this album standout, and he does both justice on the amazing "Gods and Monsters", a song that features blazing distorted wah-wah licks mixed in with speed of light chicken pickin' that will totally amaze.

My guess is, that other than the Marilyn Manson crowd or the recent Ozzfest attendees who witnessed John 5 on stage with Rob Zombie, most people have never heard of the guitarist. Well, with Songs for Sanity, that is all about to change. This is inspired stuff folks, and expect to see the man on on a few more guitar magazine covers before it's all said and done.

Track Listing
1. Damaged
2. Soul Of A Robot
3. Gein With Envy
4. Sin
5. Behind The Nut Love
6. Blues Balls
7. Fiddler's
8. Gods And Monsters
9. 2 Die 4
10. Death Valley
11. Perineum
12. Dénouement

Added: February 20th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Official John 5 Website
Hits: 4475
Language: english

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John 5: Songs for Sanity
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-02-20 15:33:28
My Score:

Guitarist John 5 from Marilyn Manson will surprise a lot of people with the release Songs For Sanity. On this album there is none of the Gothic Horror Show Metal that one might expect from the guitarist but instead a wild display of technical ability and style that will quite literally blow you away. For the most part it's a heavy album with lots of skillfully composed runs and thundering drumming. Songs that prove this best are "Gods And Monsters" and "Soul Of A Robot". The bluesy feel is given its time to shine in "Blues Balls" which is brief and to the point. The track has a Stevie Ray Vaughn feel and is done quite well.

"Fiddlers" is truly a song that is among the most fun; while it's rocking, it has a strong bluegrass feel to it. This was probably my favorite on the album, along with the moody "Sin". Joining John 5 for the album's recording is the legendary Steve Vai, whose contributions are solos and some lead work on a couple of tunes. John 5 himself plays most of the guitars and even does a little bass. Other players across the record include Larry Klein & Joah Jones (bass), Rodger Carter & Aaron Rossi (drums), Sid Riggs & Kevin Savigar (keyboards). Legendary axe wizard Albert Lee makes an appearance by soloing on "Death Valley" and it's nice to see his talents represented for the world to enjoy on an artist of today's work. "Perineum" was also one of my favorites as it had such a level of progressive technicality to it and was perhaps the heaviest of the numbers on the album.

I think anyone who goes in for solid instrumental albums along the manner of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani will enjoy this recording. There are hints of Blues, Rock, Progressive and Metal all displayed at various points and the whole thing shows the level of player that John 5 actually is. I admit that going in I expected something akin to his work in Manson, but this album just goes to show that one should not dismiss before listening. The entire album is a fun listen and I recommend it to all of you.

John 5: Songs for Sanity
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-10-23 07:27:02
My Score:

A quick listen of John 5's Songs for Sanity is bound to suggest that his previous collaborations with artists such as David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Halford, Rob Zombie, and John Wetton to name a few were certainly quite limiting given his talents presented on his solo albums. John Lowery goes under the name John 5 and Songs for Sanity is his second solo output after the critically acclaimed Vertigo.

This is an entirely instrumental release with the exception of some spoken parts in a song or two or a funny appearance of a singer who attemps to sing in a reggae style on "Gods and Monsters", one of the more atmospheric and laid-back tunes with electronic drum beats and synth work, fuzzy guitar sounds, and eventually a challenging lead solo that is rather impressive. The first half of the album is decidedly more shred-oriented; manic sweeps fill "Damaged", the album opener, together with heavy as hell rhythms and a bluesy guitar tone utilising Morse-like picking. Over-dubbed guitar lines duel with each other, leaving the non-Manson fan speechless when it comes to John 5's amazing skill in his instrument. Fast (and I mean really fast!) tapping licks open "Soul of a Robot", littered with killer vibrato work that is generated by an almost robotic proficiency. The song delves into classic rock territory but is carried out in a very Steve Vai-like playfulness, producing weird soundscapes. John 5 then explores some bluegrass meets country on "Gein with Envy", a bit similar to the stuff on String Cheese Incident's last album, and immediately launches into his first atmospheric track, the moody "Sin". Modern sounds emerge recalling his past with Manson and his recent stint with Rob Zombie. However, all of it is put aside with the arrival of an impossibly fast shred guitar that then is again replaced by an atmospheric break allowing the drums to shine. The whammy bar usage at the end is a bit excessive and overtly Steve Vai influenced, but I'm sure the average guitar fan will love it.

The "Blues Balls" title is self-explanatory, enriched with echoic organ sounds floating about in the background layered by classic rock guitar melodies. From here on, the album develops a more cinematic feel starting with "Fiddler's" which begins with a tongue-in-cheek commentary about the singer in HIM, and John says he prefers guitar shred and showcases his frenzied instrumental prowess. "2 Die 4" is the darkest cut, with sporadic acoustic guitars and weird sound effects that would make for a great horror movie soundtrack. "Death Valley" is another classic rock tune, except that it begins with a woman giving directions with car horns and heavy traffic heard in the background. Finally John 5 meets Steve Vai, undoubtedly one his main inspirations, on "Perineum", and the two guitarists shred each other out, exchanging solo spots and then doing unison solos. The song marries modern production with classic guitar virtuoso and never fails to borrow Vai's mystical guitar tones along the way. It ends with a long ambient section bleeding into "Denouement", another atmospheric piece that closes the album on a very frantic speed solo note. Once again the whammy bar at the end goes a bit excessive for my likes, but other than that this is quite possibly the most melody-friendly song on the album.

Give Songs for Sanity a listen and discover an amazingly talented guitar player. Granted his songwriting and guitar tone may not be everyone's taste, he is impeccably skilled when it comes to guitar playing and combining it with fun and energy.

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