If you’re like me, you might forever associate John 5 with Marilyn Manson, and depending on who you are, that might be a bad or a good thing. It probably doesn’t help him going by that same moniker ever since. Luckily, this album review happens to be John 5’s latest installment of his solo career. I definitely felt pretty unprepared to listen to God Told Me To, although I suppose it was a safe assumption is was going to be at least related to metal. And as it turns out, I was half right.
John 5 is currently Rob Zombie’s guitarist, but he’s still releasing his solo works on the side. God Told Me To is John 5’s 6th album to be released today. By the way, Rob Zombie painted the album artwork himself, which is no surprise since it looks like every single one of Rob Zombie’s album covers…ever. This album is similar to other solo guitar albums, where the songs are all instrumental, and the main focus is technical guitar playing. The most notable feature of God Told Me To is its composition of both acoustic and electric songs. About half of the album is electric, and the other half acoustic pieces. This might be something quite surprising to probably most of John 5’s fanbase. Sure, the electric songs are stuff we could expect from John 5, but the acoustic songs are actually a pretty eclectic mix of guitar works. There’s the folk, bluegrassy ballad of “Ashland Bump”, to the ethereal journey of “The Castle”, and even over to a Spanish-dance number “Noche Acosador”. To me, the acoustic numbers really steal the show, and it showcases the talent and diversity of John 5 as a guitarist and musician. The electric songs are definitely ones I would expect from a solo guitar performance. It’s basically metal, with tons of fast-picking guitar solos over it. If you’re into the work of Steve Vai, or Tony MacAlpine then this is something you’re probably used to hearing, and would enjoy hearing from God Told Me To. “Welcome To Violence” is about as heavy and fast as it gets, but other songs like “The Hill of the Seven Jackals” aren’t bad either. “The Lust Killer” is the most melodic of his heavier songs, but ends up sounding more like an Avenged Sevenfold song rather than industrial metal. It literally sounds just like a song from Avenged Sevenfold that never made it onto an album; if you get a chance to hear it, you’ll know what I mean. But oddly enough, it’s probably my favorite of the electric set. There’s also a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” which was pretty interesting. It didn’t really make sense with the album as a whole and kind of stood out. Maybe covering an MJ song was exactly what God told him to do.
Overall, I enjoyed the acoustic numbers more than the electric. That isn’t to say the electric numbers are bad, but the acoustic numbers appeal to me a little more. It actually should help the album appeal to a wider audience of guitar fans, rather than just John 5’s usual crowd. This isn’t the type of album to get if you’re a strictly a metalhead looking for a new fix. If you like solo guitarists then this should be mandatory listening. If you like John 5’s work with Marilyn Manson and/or Rob Zombie, then you should pick it up as well. You might be surprised to hear all of what John 5 is capable of playing.
Favorite songs: “Welcome To Violence”, “Ashland Bump”, “Noche Acosador”.