"Season of the Witch"

(60 Cycle Hum)

01. Book of Spells
02. The Black Grass Plague
03. Guitars Tits and Monsters
04. Now Fear This
05. Behind the Nut Love
06. Making Monsters
07. Dr. Evil's Spookshow
08. Here's to the Crazy Ones
09. The Macabre
10. DDD
11. Hell Haw I.G.R.
12. Ode to Jasper
13. Season of the Witch

RATING: 7.5/10

Guitars, tits and monsters. Now that we have your attention...

Two of the three (Stacey Nelkin's breasts popping ever-so-briefly in a clumsy sex scene nobody buys into) appear in the crap classic "Halloween III: Season of the Witch". John 5 hangs with Rob Zombie (in the past, Marilyn Manson), so guitars, tits and monsters are the habitat he absorbs. Of course, John 5 scored Zombie's film "The Lords of Salem", so he's more than acclimated. He projects this subculture with an emphasis upon broad music variations amidst fleeting drive-in schlock samples on his (along with his CREATURES mates Ian Ross and Rodger Carter) new instrumental album, "Season of the Witch".

Given that John 5 has played with everyone from David Lee Roth to Meat Loaf to Paul Stanley to RED SQUARE BLACK to LYNYRD SKYNYRD, "Season of the Witch" doesn't nestle somewhere between Mike Oldfield, Nick Cave and THE CRAMPS, as might be suggested. Despite his metal-glammed Crypt Keeper facade onstage, John 5 is a sophisticated guitar player, thus be prepared for more than implied by the title here. A lot on this album is fun, some of it brainy, most of it delectable guitar goo, but if you're looking for a breakneck ghoul's night out, well, NEKROMANTIX is probably your better choice.

"Black Grass Plague" bangs and twangs (twang becoming the modus operandi on the country-fried "Behind the Nut Love") as John 5 scales atop a clubbing tempo and twisting bass lines, dropping a zanier metal hoedown than even SNOT could conjure up. For nearly six minutes, "Guitars Tits and Monsters" grinds along with gnarly bass guiding John 5 through funk and boogie melodies. If the Allmans collided with KING's X, THE AVERAGE WHITE BAND and a standby fusion trio, that might be a comparable sound. "Guitars Tits and Monsters" doesn't freewheel as much as it jumps from one mode to another with John 5" jamming, slamming and showing off how much of his repertoire he can get away with in one sitting—including a "Peter Gunn" drop along the way.

The equally stuffed "Now Fear This" mingles funk, classical, huff rawk and prog as a constantly rolling vehicle for John 5 to riff and ultimately shred through. "Making Monsters" heavies up after an amusing B-film sample as John 5 rips and peals over his grumbly chords. Clever progressions keep "Making Monsters" fun as "Here's to the Crazy Ones" capitalizes on its momentum with driving rock measures goofed on by wacky jazz and prog swerves. Hang tight later for the country-jazz collision of "Hell Haw I.G.R.", awkward in concept, but it really works well.

Listen to "The Macabre" on headphones for its full effect as the circumventing fly buzzing gives you the jitters with engulfing synths and John 5's murmuring melody setting an unexpected calm for his gentle soloing atop. "DDD" thereafter is a one-man show, where John 5 impressively turns calliope melodies into shreds.

The shrill synth pierce escaping from "Ode to Jasper"'s quietude sets off this crashing penultimate meditation; while only the title track at the album's end feels like a true horror job, which John 5 holds for a grand finale. Here John 5 hurls some of the album fastest and screechiest chops, along with his heaviest tones.

WEDNESDAY 13 perhaps gets better mileage shoving his loud and bouncy horror party like a campy, ghoulish huckster. John 5 has the morbid stage presence and all the chops he needs, yet his suave instead of blunt approach on "Season of the Witch" is less of a fang bang and more of aSatriani-escorted walk to only the entrance of the cemetery for a precautious peek-through.


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