The thing about instrumental records is that you can call the songs whatever the hell you want. It doesn’t matter a jot if they make sense only to an amoeba the artist can get away with bloody murder if he so chooses and unremarkable ex Manson, David Lee Roth and Rob Halford Axe-slinger-for-hire John Lowry aka JOHN 5 has done exactly that. Some of the titles are completely barmy but that’s singer-less albums for you kids! Having no vocalist does have its advantages though namely the guitarist, for a change, gets to hog centre stage with absolutely no competition whatsoever.
So then this leads to the quite absurd six string talents of JOHN 5. And let me tell you the man comes with some accreditation from none other than Steve Vai who describes JOHN 5 as an ‘underrated guitar giant’; small words indeed and indeed it’s hard to fault Mr VAI’S opinion. JOHN 5 is a shredder and guitarist up their with the likes of Paul Gilbert and that Malmsteen chap. ‘’Songs For Sanity’’ is his second offering featuring some hard hitting Metal riffs interspersed with Bluegrass motifs and some frantic fret board action. Way heavier than anything Vai or Satriani might release this is more Gilbert territory although I have to say Paul still shreds way better; this is a Metal album with all the right ingredients bar the singer. Get over that and you are left with a very fine record.
The Metal stomp of opener ‘’Damaged’’ is followed by the hard hitting ‘’Soul Of A Robot’’ whereas the Bluegrass/Country style of ‘’Gein With Envy’’ features some extraordinary picking and completed at a rate of knots. ‘’Sin’’ delves ever so slightly into Doomy SABBATH coupled to some frantic old school Metal riffing. Mercifully solo after solo is not displayed here instead a little more thought has gone into songs. Perhaps Malmsteen should take note: a million miles an hour does make Jack a dull boy. And Vai even turns up on the riff heavy ‘’Perineum’’
Some would rather swim in shark infested waters than listen to an instrumental album such is the poor name they carry but JOHN 5 has shown that given a chance his considerable talents should not be ignored. (Online December 16, 2005)