An Artist Looking to Redefine His Sound
Once a former member of both Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie’s nightmarish occults, John William Lowery — known professionally as John 5 —has ventured out on his own yet again, producing his ninth solo album, Season of the Witch. Alongside a motley group of backup instrumentalists, known justly as “The Creatures,” John 5’s skill as a guitarist cuts through much of the sporadic progressions presented throughout the record. As a whole, Season of the Witch feels choppy, transitioning from heavy metal riffs to bluesy solos and country ballads. At times, tracks pull a sharp 180˚ and lose a head of steam as they tail off towards the next genre and, too often, does Season of the Witch feel like a retrograde of all the guitarist’s prior accomplishments.
Make no mistake: John 5 presents excellent chops as he careens through many different styles and, with the occasional change-up, Season of the Witch justly portrays a man whose skills rival some established artists. Just look at his resume: the man has played alongside some incredibly talented musicians, and rightly so; he can obviously shred. Many of the songs recorded on Season of the Witch pull firmly from John 5’s experience as a metal guitarist, a result likely due to his time spent in Rob Zombie’s band. But strip away all the makeup and theatrics, and one finds a musician on the brink of starting a new chapter.
While John 5 has spent the vast majority of his career supporting big name musicians, it would be interesting to see if the Michigan native could take the sound present in both “Behind the Nut Love” and “Ode to Jasper” on a path all its own. Although tracks like “Black Grass Plague,” “Now Fear This” and “Making Monsters” are wrapped in John 5’s familiar fiery sound, the album’s fifth number, “Behind the Nut Love,” offers something a bit different. Laden with all of Lowery’s expertise, the song is softer and, to some extents,greatly more melodic than the others. It would appear that the forty-five-year-old musician is looking to break out of the barriers that have come to define his career.
Season of the Witch, clocking in at a just forty minutes, is probably best suited for avid John 5 fans. Its eclectic tunes create a scattered album that feels more like a career sampling rather than a full-on record. All in all, the album captures a myriad of sounds that Lowery has garnered over years of touring with the likes of Manson, Zombie, Skynyrd and Osbourne, but fails to give a satisfying reflection of his desire to really break through the chains that have come to define him.