John 5
Vertigo


3.5
great

Review

by Shadows USER (89 Reviews)
August 4th, 2005 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


John 5, aka John Lowry, has never really been given a chance to display his true talent throughout his music career. He has played with the likes of k.d. lang, Avril Lavigne, Lisa Marie Presley, and most notably, Marilyn Manson. Coping with family losses and mental issues, Lowry has always been known as ďthe Manson guitarist", and not much else. We can thank legendary guitarist Les Paul for changing all of that. It was during a jam session with the 88-year-old guitar wizard that he was urged to release his own solo album. That was good enough for Lowry, as Iím sure it would be for any guitarist. With that undeniable boost, Lowry releases what can almost be considered a new outlook on life. Never has he released anything like this, nor has he even been associated or even thought capable of creating something like Vertigo.

John 5 Ė Vertigo (released 8/31/04 on Shrapnel Records)

Someoneís pulling on wires back hereÖ

Now letís take a slightly closer look at the life of the often over-looked John 5. John Lowry first came into contact with a guitar in 1978 when he was merely seven years old. After he was out of school he moved to LA and slipped in and out of various bands until 1996. By then he was finally picked up as k.d. langís touring guitarist. Only two years later he was caught in the middle of hell as lead guitarist for Marilyn Manson. Not only did he contribute on two Manson records, but also can take credit for 13 of the 15 songs from The Golden Age of Grotesque. He had parted ways with Manson during March of í04, but not without some problems along the way. Two of his family members had dies during the final Manson tour, as well as his suffering from anxiety attacks. Now a year after parting with his former employer, Lowry has formed the band Loser and worked with people such as Avril Lavigne and Lisa Marie Presley. But it was a fateful jam session with Les Paul himself when the decision was finally made to release a solo album, which brings me to where I am now.

I knew this guy had to be good after my guitar teacher put me onto him. To be honest, John 5 deserves much more credit as a musician than he gets. Most metal guys will rattle off names like Zakk Wylde, Alexi Laiho, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, or Steve Vai when the talk turns to guitar. John 5 is easily on par with those clowns, and probably surpasses many of them. His playing consists of the most outrageous shredding you will ever hear. But you might ask, why buy an album to hear nothing but shredding? Well, Vertigo is a bit more than just shredding. Lowry mixes guitar virtuosity with creative melodies, stange techniques and effects, and countless genres to create a record that nobody has heard before. Alexi Laiho? This guy doesnít bother wasting his time with those supposed ďneo-classical" shenanigans. He doesnít really stick to metal either. His playing spans across the brutal metal spectrum, industrial, country, jazz and blues, and some stuff I donít know what the hell to call. John 5 is one amazing guitarist.

The outlandish mix of genres is what makes this record such an interesting listen. I suppose the most accurate thing would be to say this is an Instrumental Industrial release. No matter what heís playing Lowry sticks with odd effects, strange atmospheres, and distorted guitar tones. Metalheads will identify all too well with songs like Needles, CA, which chugs along with crushing brutality and face-melting metal solos. Zugg Island Convict has somewhat of an older metal or even rock ní roll feel to it. Johnís Industrail roots are heard all over the record, most notably in tracks like Flatlines, Thin Lines and Feisty Cadavers. Other odd musical experiences mix genres and are near impossible to classify. The title track Vertigo is a dark, depressing ballad that almost seems to contain everything Johnís endured during his life. Pulling Strings begins almost funkish but ends up as a rock ní roll classic.

For the rest of the album John experiments with various styles of music and usually switches in the middle of songs. At first glance, Sugar Foot Rag may seem to be a blues song, but John suddenly thrusts us into hickville USA. Dead Manís DreamÖis just weird. Itís more metal/industrial than anything else, but itís definitely an odd song. He gives several performances such as those on Sweet Georgia Brown and Liberty, both old country or western style songs. The aptly titles Goodnight almost sounds like a lullaby. All of these songs are made most unusual by John shredding - whether itís distorted, clean, or acoustic Ė throughout 90% of the songs.

This isnít just your mindless tremolo bar or fretboard wankery either. His shredding is well placed and thought out. He often favors adding melody and feeling to his songs over shredding constantly. Sure, the metal or industrial hits may have the insane metal guitar going for them, but on the other tracks John is creating haunting melodies, plucking away like heís playing a banjo, or making a nice bluesy atmosphere. This guy knows his music.

Keep in mind that this album is far from listener-friendly. Musicians will appreciate this album, but even they might find it hard to enjoy many of the songs since John skips around so many genres so often. There are songs I absolutely love and songs I just canít bring myself to listen to (a little something for everybody). I suppose itís a long shot to expect anyone to buy it because theyíre a diehard Manson fan, as this couldnít be farther away from Manson. I guess itís fair to say this record has more than itís share of musical shock value. Guitarists may find this album exciting and peculiar, but Iím sure most everyone else will find this too odd and inconsistent to enjoy. I hope you at least take advantage of the given uploads and sample some John 5. This guy is an unsung hero of the music world, and I think some of you out there can enjoy or at least appreciate this.

Recommended tracks (with uploads to sample with):
Needles, CA
Feisty Cadavers
Flatlines, Thin Lines
Vertigo

Final Rating Ė 3.5/5

Something for musicians or even those who just enjoy something this insane. Have fun.



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user ratings (53)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rudd13
August 4th 2005


952 Comments


Good review.

You get a thumb!
:thumb:

Shadows
Moderator
August 4th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yep, mistake. A very ill-placed one at that. Thanks for pointing it out.

masada
August 4th 2005


2733 Comments


I'm interested in him, but I'm still scared to check out any instrumental-guitar albums after I bought a Steve Vai one..

Great review :thumb:

Shadows
Moderator
August 4th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just listen to the uploads. This is a little more than just Manson-style powerchords.

Priestmetal
August 4th 2005


542 Comments


The guitarist of my band has this album and says its incredible. I have never heard it though.

Good review. I like how you have the uploads. Even though my comp wont let me click them.

munky_magik
August 4th 2005


46 Comments


He's a great player, and has mastered alot of techniques.
However, I feel that his writing skills leave alot to be desired.
Some songs are great and some are just not.

goraiders02
August 4th 2005


2 Comments


of course that was constructive, i let him know his review was a dam snoozfest

Med57
Moderator
August 4th 2005


1002 Comments


No, that isn't constructive at all. It really isn't actually even that long.

goraiders02
August 4th 2005


2 Comments


okay im gonan be mature on this one....in a magazine somebody is not gonan wanna read that, its boring and gives the bands whole story, its a frikken album review not a band review....thats the problem with everybody ont his site

Shadows
Moderator
August 4th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Judging by your comments, I can tell you didn't read beyond paragraph one. Then when I consider your grammar and spelling, I can tell you have the journalistic capabilities of a first grader, so your comments don't mean much.This Message Edited On 08.04.05

Dancin' Man
August 5th 2005


719 Comments


I have been saredof checking this out the same way I've been scaredof Buckethead. I suppose the time comes for me to look into both although with my urrent infatuation with tech grind and death metal, I may be left longing.

EdwardTheGreat
August 5th 2005


57 Comments


Great review. Goraiders you're a fool. How many music magazines do you read? Most magazines that have reviews will have them like this. As I said very good review.

Shadows
Moderator
August 5th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[QUOTE=Grateful Dead]This review would fit in any music magazine very nicely.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=EdwardTheGreat]Great review... Most magazines that have reviews will have them like this.[/QUOTE]

Thank you very much. It's nice to get compliments that are more than the usual mindless "good review".

masada
August 5th 2005


2733 Comments


[quote=Death to Pop-Punk]It's nice to get compliments that are more than the usual mindless "good review".[/quote]
I'm sorry :upset:

Shadows
Moderator
August 5th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[QUOTE=something vague]I'm sorry :upset:[/QUOTE] It's quite alright. I know the thought was there, but it's always nice to get something out of the ordinary once in a while.

Rogue Six
June 10th 2006


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

John played guitar with David Lee Roth as well back in the day. He's an amazing guitarist, He's easily in my Top 3 Metal Guitarists.

rockstar18
November 12th 2006


741 Comments


am gona check this out soon! m/

BoneNoir
May 20th 2010


10 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anyone else see a bunch of squares instead of commas and stuff? Is it just the browser i'm using? Anyway my sister turned me onto this album and it's pretty great.



" I'm sure most everyone else will find this too odd and inconsistent to enjoy."



that may be true, as an album it's kinda scattered, but i have a lot of songs off of this on different playlists. It works out if you're like me and you love making playlists. And individually the songs are pretty bad-ass.



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