Saturday, June 25, 2011

One-Off Wonder: Flesh Caffeine - John Christ - 1999

Flesh CaffeineFollowing the demise of the American Records-era lineup of Danzig I expected John Christ would immediately go on to join another band or start his own project. But it was a long, quiet wait for 1999's Flesh Caffeine, to date the only album to surface from the metal master to date. It's a varied affair, ranging across lots of familiar sounds and styles - and it would be easy for the Danzig fan listening blind to recognize a lot of Christ's signature touches and identify the player.
photo by Neil Zlozower

Flesh Caffeine is, above all, a record for guitar fans. Those looking for an incredible rock and roll experience or Danzig, Part II will come away disappointed. John Christ handles all instruments aside from percussion (provided by Stefan Svensson) and also does all the vocal work. A competent singer, John doesn't provide a distinctive rock voice. The production is a little shallow and the entire project has a DIY feel, albeit a quality once. In the end, it's all about the riffs and solos.

And riffs and solos abound on Flesh Caffeine. The title track, an aggressive hard-rocker that sounds influenced by Danzig's tour with White Zombie, is by far the strongest on all counts and starts the record out strong:

Another scorcher, "Judgment Day," would be right at home on a Metallica album. John's pinch harmonics are on full display along with some incredible locomotive riffs as this, the album's centerpiece, shifts back and forth from pensive to balls-out rocker.

Flesh Caffeine shifts styles from hard rock and metal to proto-punk to blues and back again. As such, it works better as resume for John Christ than a coherent album. That said, this is one hell of a skill set. Just listen to the solos on "Shadows:"

I remain absolutely astounded that he's not stealing the show with a major-label act on a nightly basis. My few encounters with John Christ during the Danzig days bolster the same opinion I've heard from everyone who's ever met the man: he's a great, friendly, humble, generous person. Maybe that's what's keeping him out of the spotlight in popular music.

John has a nice little website, You can order Flesh Caffeine there (though the site doesn't appear to have been updated too recently) or at Amazon as CD (though beware that their CD is a CD-R manufactured on demand) or MP3 download.

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