Review Summary: John 5's most accessible and interesting work.God Told Me To
is a departure from the usual John 5 albums, bringing a much needed change to his solo career. This time he traded all the bluegrass with lovely acoustic numbers, thus marking John's not only one of his most interesting albums, but also one of his most accessible work, if not the most. 5 always spiced his frenetic shredding numbers with different bluesy, bluegrass tracks, however, after five albums everything got a bit stale. So, here he approached his work from different angles while still delivering some of his finest shredding in a while.
The manic and brutal "Welcome To Violence" starts the album in style with John channeling and outdoing at the same time, Ministry's circa 2006's Rio Grande Blood
type of trashy metal. Boasting some of his most frantic riffing and shredding in a while interspersed with short sampled lines, "Welcome To Violence" feels fun and refreshing. The next song, a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It", is a definite win, John following thesong's structure giving it at the same time more power and groove while discretely inserting some of his musical prowess without turning this song into another virtuoso show off.
From here on, God Told Me To
goes to extremes, intertwining acoustic numbers with heavy rockers, each having a sound of its own. "Ashland Bump", for example, is a cool, dry country blues number feeling like a smooth ride through the desert, while "Killafornia" sounds as if it was taken out of a Rob Zombie album, having a heavy industrial feel with John keeping his signature shredding. However, the rockers are often gifted with short, soft melodic interludes showcasing more welcomed changes in sound. While his other albums were exhausting at one point and mostly biased, on God Told Me To
, John 5 manages to combine his rich musical background to a more effective and concise result, keeping the songs under a five minute span.
After a heavier first half, the latter one tends to mellow towards the end. "Noche Acosador" is one of the album's finest moments and a highlight in John's career. Reportedly studying flamenco artists and techniques, he managed to create an authentic flamenco number with everything in it from the genre's signature tapping to lovely leads. While it may not yet be in the same league with the best flamenco guitar players, it is an amazing start and addition to 5's ever expanding palette. The song is then followed by "The Lust Killer", which is the best example of the two combining sides present on this album. Starting again with a stomping rhythm and lots of shredding, the song grows to a melodic mid-part being slowly stripped to a short, mournful interlude, only to restart to a hard hitting finale. Of course, this is not the first time John 5 alternates styles, but here he does it with more cohesion, portraying his evolution as a guitar player. Also, last song "Creepy Crawler" is the ballad Marilyn Manson never had. The track is a sparse, melancholic number that takes its beauty from building an atmosphere around itself with faint echoed and reverbed guitar layers. It is one of most beautiful songs in John 5's solo discography.
Overall, fans accustomed to John 5's antiques will be pleased with the heavier side God Told Me To
offers, while the acoustic side will represent a much needed change even for them, since all his previous albums were going in the same direction. It's great how these songs end up being the best thing this album has to offer. This album is a must for any fans and newcomers alike, but also one of the most interesting and enjoyable albums of 2012 yet. Also, the CD comes with a cool DVD containing live footage and a day in John 5's life on tour with Rob Zombie. Grab it.
Highlights - "Welcome To Violence", "Noche Acosador", "Creepy Crawler", "Beat It", "Ashland Bump"