More often than not, when people think of the word “invasion,” they typically attribute a negative connotation to the word. However, not every invasion is a bad thing. The British invasion that introduced Americans to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones was definitely a positive invasion. The so-called “new wave of British Heavy Metal” was just as welcome, as was the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal.” This week, a new invasion began with the release of John 5 and The Creatures’ new album, simply titled Invasion. The record comes almost two-and-a-half years after the release of the group’s most recent record Season of the Witch and more than a year and a half after the release of the group’s most recent live recording, It’s Alive. Simply put, John 5 and The Creatures have worked hard, making certain their fans have been kept entertained over the course of almost the past three years, and this latest offering from the band continues to do just that, entertain audiences. That is due in part to the continued wide range of arrangements that make up the body of the 34-minute album. They will be addressed shortly. The record’s production and mixing builds on the foundation formed by that wide array of arrangement, and will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Invasion. All things considered, they make the album another invasion – both literally and metaphorically – that audiences will welcome.
John 5 and The Creatures’ new full-length studio recording Invasion, which was released just this week, is another positive new offering from the group. It is a work that will invade listeners minds, and be welcome by said listeners in the process. That is due in part to the record’s collective compositions. The 10 songs that make up the body of the 34-minute record run the gamut from the industrial realm to that of funk to country/bluegrass and even some blues-based material in the vein of Joe Satriani. In regards to the more industrial style material, said music opens the album in the form of the album’s title song. Though short – it clocks in at just two minutes and 10 seconds – the use of the bass, guitar and ethereal effects instantly conjures thoughts of the works that he helped compose during his time with Marilyn Mason. The funk elements show up in the infectious arrangement at the center of ‘Zoinks’ and ‘I Like The Funk.’ Both songs incorporate a certain rock influence into their arrangements, immediately making them appealing to Red Hot Chili Peppers fans. The country/bluegrass sounds are just as abundant as the funk/rock elements, showing up in different fashions in ‘Howdy,’ ‘Cactus Flower’ and ‘Constant Sorrow.’ Yes, the latter of that trio is in fact a take-off of the famed ‘I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow.’ This take on the modern classic song is not only a solid closer for the album, but also one of the record’s most notable works. While ‘Constant Sorrow’ takes on its source material with a new take, ‘Howdy’ is a full-on bluegrass piece that will appeal to fans of old school country and bluegrass stars, such as Chet Atkins, Scruggs & Flatt, and Red Allen – just to name a few well-known bluegrass figures for comparison. ‘Cactus Flower,’ while clearly exhibiting a country influence, is much more reserved than its counterparts featured in this record. It creates a very serene atmosphere with its soft, gentle cymbal rolls, guitar line, and seeming keyboard element. It creates this vision of cowboys out on the trail and farmers out in the fields harvesting their crops. It is, in this critics view, another of the album’s most notable additions. It is just one more of the album’s most notable entries, too. The blue-rock style arrangement at the heart of ‘I Want It All’ will appeal to fans of Joe Satriani with its driving riffs and time keeping. The trills and the fills that John 5 performs couples with the keyboards and the drums to make a whole that fans of Mr. Satriani will enjoy time and again. It is yet another way in which the album shows its strengths. Between that song, the others discussed here and the prog-metal styling of ‘Midnight Mass,’ the whole of this record once again clearly exhibits John 5’s versatility as a musician and guitarist, which is of course nothing new for him. It is another example of why John 5 – whose real name is John Lowery – made the right decision so many years ago to break away from Marilyn Manson and go it alone.
The wide array of arrangements exhibited throughout Invasion builds a strong foundation for this latest impressive offering from John 5 and The Creatures. They collectively continue to exhibit Lowery’s talents as a guitarist, musician and composer. They are only one part of what makes the record another appealing to audiences. The record’s production and mixing adds its own appeal to its presentation. From one song to the next, every line gets its own moment in the sun. The album’s opener is one of the prime examples of the importance of the album’s production and mixing. The song’s opening bars balance the dark, brooding drums and guitars expertly with the ethereal, gentle blowing wind-type effects to create the song’s ominous mood. That mood gives way to an even more foreboding feeling as Lowery’s guitar line powers up more, adding even more to the song’s goth vibe. The end result is a powerful opening that is quite the stark contrast from the album’s more lighthearted finale. ‘I Want It All’ is another example of the importance of the album’s collective production and mixing. There is a lot going on in this song, from Lowery’s guitar work to the time keeping to the audio effects used on the song’s few vocal moments in which Lowery sings, “I want it all.” Those behind the boards clearly spent a lot of time balancing each element. Lowery’s guitar work takes center stage, but is balanced well with the drums. Speaking of the drums, the cymbal crashes are kept to a certain minimum so as to not overpower the actual time keeping. Rather, it is there, but more for the sake of effects. Even as Lowery sings, it is easy to understand what he is singing despite the use – supposedly – of a talk box or some sort of similar tech. ‘Cactus Flower’ is another example of the importance and power of the album’s production and mixing. This time, the subtleties are more in a positive vein, and are handled just as well as the subtleties of the album’s opener. The airy synth that sits at the song’s base joins with Lowery’s gentle, flowing guitar line to paint such a vivid picture for listeners. The emotional impact from that balance makes the song, again, one of the album’s most powerful additions and one of its best. When that impact is considered alongside the impact of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s works, the overall impact of each work’s production and mixing is a record that is just as easy on the ears because of the work that went into its creation as for its variety of musical sounds. Speaking again of the variety in the arrangements, it has already been noted that the noted variety forms a strong foundation for the album. The sequencing of those songs rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.
Invasion’s sequencing is important because it keeps things interesting for listeners. Listeners will note that Lowery never sticks to just one style of music for too long at any one point throughout the course of the album. Case in point, the first two songs – ‘Invasion’ and ‘I Am John 5’ are both industrial in style, but are different from each other in their respective styles. The album takes a decidedly different turn as it enters its third song, ‘Midnight Mass.’ This song is a full on prog-metal work that also incorporates some thrash elements into the mix for a whole that is, again, completely separate from the arrangements presented in the album’s first two songs. The variations continue nonstop from here, with the more funk-infused ‘Zoinks!’ and the country/bluegrass vibe of ‘Howdy.’ Lowery and company return to the album’s more hard rock/goth sounds as it enters its second half with ‘Crank It – Living With Ghosts.’ As the album progresses on toward its finale, the changes remain just as constant as they were in the album’s first half. The reserved nature of ‘Cactus Flower’ is a start contrast to the high energy of ‘Crank It – Living With Ghosts.’ Its energy is just as stark from that of ‘I Want It All’ and ‘I Like The Funk.’ Their collective vibes and energy is just as different from that of the album’s finale, too. Simply put, the constantly changing energies of the songs ensures just as much as the arrangements themselves and their production, listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment. Keeping that in mind, the record in whole does a lot to show what makes it another strong new offering from Lowery and company.
John 5 and The Creatures’ new album Invasion is another solid new offering from Lowery and his fellow musicians. That is due to yet another wide array of styles exhibited in the song’s arrangements. This is nothing new for John 5 and The Creatures. The fact that the songs are not just repeats of the group’s past works makes that wide array that much more enjoyable. The production and mixing that went into bringing each arrangement fully to life adds to the record’s whole even more. The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Invasion. All things considered, they make Invasion one more of this year’s top new rock records and an invasion on the ears that every listener will welcome. More information on Invasion is available online now along with all of John 5 and The Creatures’ latest news at:
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