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Album Review

Since John 5 has gained acclaim from the A-list of guitar gods — the Steve Vais, the Joe Satrianis, the Paul Gilberts, and the Yngwie Malmsteens — you pretty much know what to expect with his solo albums: a total and utter shred-fest to show off his scorching chops. His fourth release, Requiem, is exactly that. It acts as a calling card to prove that he's a praiseworthy axemaster as he blasts through scales and exercises in blazing fury. Yes, he's fast enough to solo in front of Racer X, and yes, he can sweep classical-style arpeggios just like the curly-locked former leader of Rising Force. In fact, there's not much that he can't do with the guitar stylistically. Like his prior albums, he inserts chicken-pickin' country and down-home bluegrass in his set alongside metal macabre instrumentals, and ups the ante with a more adventurous playing technique and new and improved tricks. He certainly is an innovative soloist — whether he's bending the string behind the nut, toggling pickups mid-slide, or hammering the pick on the fretboard — but while a full album of mile-a-minute scales and tricks may please six-string cowboys looking to drool over the fastest gunslinger and his shiny pistol (in this case a custom Telecaster), it can prove exhausting for anyone looking for dynamic shifts or memorable melodies. Speed and speed alone is the name of the game on this release. That said, the Guitar Center patrons and over-caffeinated teenagers at the bus stop arguing over the best shredder of 2008 will be hard-pressed to find anyone more skillful or relentless. Just play "Heretic's Fork," "The Judas Cradle," "The Lead Sprinkler," "Scavenger's Daughter," or any of the other torture devices listed on the album for further proof.


Born: Grosse Pointe, MI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and picking up a guitar at the tender age of seven, John Lowery was given the nickname John 5 the day he joined Marilyn Manson's band. A versatile session guitarist known for his speed as well as his keen goth fashion sense (imagine Brandon Lee in The Crow), after moving to L.A. at 18 he scored high-profile gigs touring with Lita Ford and k.d. lang based on his work scoring soundtracks and commercials with producer Bob Marlette. Studio work continued, as he contributed...
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Top Albums and Songs by John 5

Requiem, John 5
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