Listen, I’m gonna make this quick because I’m telling you something you obviously know already. JOHN 5 is a Guitar GOD. And no, that matter is not open for discussion. His last two albums, God Told Me To and Careful With That Axe both landed in Maestro’s Top Albums lists of 2012 and 2014 respectively, and for good reason. I’ve said it many times before, it takes something special to impress me when it comes to guitar albums. Noodling and wankery are not the way to this girl’s heart; good song structures, and power chords that crack your ribs are, with a dash of shreddy solos that will set your eyebrows on fire. And that’s exactly what JOHN 5 and The Creatures deliver with new album Season of the Witch (out now, 60 Cycle Hum).
After a brief intro JOHN 5 and co. (bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter) waste no time getting to the point with “The Black Grass Plague” and “Guitars Tits and Monsters”, the latter being one of my favorite cuts on the disc. You think it’s a straight-ahead rocker, which it is, but then it throws you for a complete loop later in the tune. “Now Fear This” is a groove-laden affair, and the man simply owns the fretboard and strings from start to finish, making this another winner. I still find myself picking my jaw up off the floor. It also doesn’t hurt that the band behind him is rock-solid and on fire! “Behind the Nut Love” clocks in at just 2:29, but during that time you’ll hear something so moving and serene you’ll have to hit that REPEAT button several times like I did. Amazing…
It’s back to the heavy and shreddy with “Making Monsters” and “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”, with “Crazy Ones” having just this incredible riff that I couldn’t get out of my head all last night. Oh and throughout, Ross goes to town on his bass in such a way you’ll find yourself going, “Whoa! Play that back!” Again, the way JOHN 5 lets other instruments shine is something his peers should take notice of instead of trying to overload us with their 50 million notes-a-minute nonsense. “Hell Haw I.G.R.” has a whiskey-tinged western swing feel to it. And at one point it sounds eerily similar to the old standard “I Got Rhythm” by Ella Fitzgerald.
Closing the disc is title track “Season of the Witch”, a heavy metal monster that is probably gonna be my new ringtone before the day is over. It’s the sound of three guys kicking ass and taking names and it’s glorious. All in all JOHN 5 and the Creatures did a brilliant job on Season of the Witch, and I’m pretty sure that this record will be on my year-end Top Albums list of 2017, which is becoming the norm with this guy. Pick your copy up today, pour a shot or six, and crank the everlovin’ fuck outta this thing!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Season of the Witch”, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”, “Behind the Nut Love”, “Guitar Tits and Monsters”, “Now Fear This”