Not that he wasn’t putting out great music before then, but since 2012 JOHN 5 has been on a musical TEAR! That year’s release of God Told Me To was one of my favorites of the year, and the same must be said for 2014’s Careful With That Axe and 2017’s Season of the Witch, both of which still get a ton of spins here at A&GS HQ. So you know that when I finally got my hands on the new JOHN 5 and the Creatures album Invasion (out now, independent release) I was in hog heaven. A new offering from this Guitar God never fails to put a smile on my face, and that smile tends to get bigger and bigger the further I get into said record. So let’s dive in.
With a super-tight and killer rhythm section of Ian Ross on bass and Logan Miles Nix behind the drum kit, this trio once again shows us how to play kickass rock and metal tracks, along with some country and bluegrass, but they manage to always keep it honest. As I’ve said countless times, there is no technical wankery, no “Look at me! Look at me!” overindulgence by any of the instrumentalists. After a brief intro the band gets down to business with “I Am John 5”, a ripper that announces that he IS JOHN 5 in a robotic voice over some heavy riffs and a cool beat you can dance to.
“Midnight Mass” is next and this one is the most straight-ahead metal track on the disc, but J5 is doing some otherworldly things with fluid runs and massive solos. Talk about a perfect balance between a headbanger and a shredder; this is it. Meanwhile “Zoinks!” shows the band having a bit of fun, complete with off-time drums, a funky bass line, and wah pedal galore. We hit the yee-haw factor with “Howdy,” something we can always expect, but this one just feels like a party, a hoedown, a hootenanny, whatever you wanna call it! “Crank it – Living With Ghosts” will have you smiling while at the same picking your jaw up from the ground at the amazing solos.
And now we come to my 100% absolute favorite song on the record, the amazingly beautiful “Cactus Flower.” Although country-tinged, it is more calm and serene than the other tunes, and is truly THE standout on an album full of standouts. JOHN 5 paints a gorgeous and lush sonic picture that I wish I could hang in my living room forever. A pair of heavy hitters follows with “I Want It All” and “I Like the Funk,” both of which have a ton of stuff going on in and around the blistering guitar leads. Closing the disc is “Constant Sorrow”, a bluesy number rooted in delta blues and a boot-stompin’ hand-clappin’ affair sure to have heads boppin’ all over the place.
So listen, you probably know what I’m gonna say next, right? JOHN 5 and the Creatures have given us an excellent record with Invasion. It rocks balls when it needs to, serves up the dirty boogie when asked, and also provides some beautiful pieces, something we can all surely use today. So believe me when I tell you to pick this one up. You won’t regret it, not for a second. And I defy you to be in a bad mood after the last notes ring out. Because you won’t be.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM