HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Requiem (Chrysalis)

John "5" Lowery has worked with Marilyn Manson, Rob Halford, David Lee Roth and is currently guitarist for Rob Zombie. On the side, very recently, he's worked with Filter and... Lynyrd Skynyrd. But it takes a firm grab hold of his zesty solo albums for you to realize this jittery, shy, a bit fragile, evil clown-painted axe virtuoso cannot be stopped. Requiem is actually a little more straight-forward than the kaleidoscopic The Devil Knows My Name album of 2007 (one of the most entertaining instrumental guitar albums ever), sticking to streamlined metal with sick yet melodic and fluid shred on top. In-betwixt, you get bits of the man's trademark country picking, but these seem shoehorned in-between the stomping metal tunes. Requiem reminds me a bit of recent, fun, utilitarian work from Steve Stevens, Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman. But yeah, look at the guy's face, and realize there's always a bit of mischief, even malevolence, to 5's work, actually, more evident in the quieter moments, where you can hear him fretting about what to do, now that he's killed a complete stranger - no one ever really gets to know John 5 - with his axe.
Rating 8

The Descended (Dynamic Arts)

One record for Metal Blade and now this one, Marko Tervonen (ex-The Crown) gathering up an new singer but otherwise continuing on his intriguing path of traditional metal that manages to sound unlike the work of any specific genre. Best descriptive would be a heavier and more complex Sentenced, with gothic bits butting up against turbo-charged passages that irresistibly bridge stoner rock to death metal. New crooner Tobias Jansson (The Law, Treasure Land, Sugarglider) has neither the pedigree or the aggressive confidence of Tony Jelencovich, but that just adds to the raw Sentenced/Cathedral-unsure humanity to the thing. Opener 'Anywhere But Here' gets top marks from this corner for grooving, beery metal anthem of Spring '08, and then 'Defenseless' is as vicious delicious, but then the band settles in a bit and the album drags, even if the world created is a good alternative to a dead Sentenced.
Rating 7

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