John Christ – Flesh Caffeine 1999 – 80%

When John Christ got kicked out of Danzig, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that he wanted to get back into the business. You know, throw down some more kickass riffs like he had been so accustomed to doing for ol’ Glenn and the boys for an amazing 4 album stretch. Roughly 4 years after being kicked out, John was able to release this bluesy metal beast.

This album is filled with plenty of Danzig-esque riffage. John takes over the vocals himself, and he’s basically a gruff James Hetfield impersonator, without the country influence. Come to think about it, really this entire album is what the entire Load/ReLoad fiasco SHOULD have been. Metallica would have been able to jump into their slightly bluesier sound, retain the metal, and come across as complete badasses still.

Each song here has a hard rock vibe. The great thing about that is that there’s some actually hard rocking to be found. This is rock that you can headbang to. This is rock that crosses the line into metal, and slips back over without any problem. The solos are quite Thin Lizzy influenced, and there are frequently twin guitar solos. John was able to write songs that are easy to tell apart, and all have distinctive personalities. Tell Me Why has a screamin’ angry chorus that simply wants to know, Why? John screams over the AC/DC influenced riff from Hell.

Stop the World is a crappy ballad that you would hear on the radio. There’s a fair amount of rocking again here, but the verses have this cool and collective little drum beat to some backing bass. Pretty calm, and pretty bland. John will learn how to do calm well a little bit later in the album. The chorus here  throws in the heavy dirty rock a bit, but it can’t redeem an otherwise worthless song.

Songs like I’m Gone and Judgment Day give off an atmosphere like you’re in a dark alley with rain overhead. Judgment Day might just be the most Danzig and Metallica like song on here, at the same time! Its the highlight of the album, no doubt. It’s easily one of the calmest and most easygoing songs here. John swoons about being tormented and rotting away in some form of cell. About halfway through, things change it up a little bit. Imagine if Metallica had thrashed (just a little) on Load. Yeah, wouldn’t that have been a mindfuck? Well that’s what it sounds like here. It’s a very simple riff that gradually gets faster and faster and faster and faster until a suspenseful pause…….and then this searingly bluesy guitar solo just rips right into your heart with the familiar street/rain/alley riffage and its atmosphere in tow. Then in a little bit, he rips out this Dave Mustaine imitation that just kicks the fuck out of the shit on this album. The song Slow Down is simply more bluesy Danzig worship. John Christ has that blues/metal fusion down to a fucking art form, and people should take notice. (I’m talking to YOU Hatfielder and Hamlet!)

Shadows is another one of the heartfelt ballads that work on this album, and really a fitting closer. You can hear some Lynyrd Skynyrd influence. It sounds like there’s some choir action going on here, as John belts out how he now see shadows where he once saw her. Frankly, there’s too much pain and suffering going on here. But then again, what better way to channel the blues than through John’s crooning/swooning melodic vocals. I can feel his heart bleeding through my headphones. I think he might want to see someone about that….

What John Christ has done is created an album that he wanted to create. He’s a very creative guy, and you can tell by listening to this album. There’s not a lot to flash here, folks. This is simply bluesy metal somewhere between Danzig and Metallica. Thankfully, it beats Load and ReLoad at their own game.

John Christ succeeded where Metallica failed. That has to stand for something.

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