King James (Star Song) 1994
1. "Hard Road to Go"
Rex Carroll (ex-Whitecross) along with Robert Sweet and Tim Gaines (ex-Stryper) and vocalist Jimi Bennett, got together and put out this melodic metal album shortly after the breakup of Stryper. While the drumming is unmistakably Robert Sweet, the music sounds nothing like Stryper. Actually with the exception of the first song ("Hard Road to Go"), the best song on the disc, the rest of the album is surprisingly mellow, retaining more of an early 80's pop metal or AOR vibe. Part of this comes from Jimi's vocals that sound more like a classic rock/Glen Hughes style than an aggressive metal style. "Sunrise is Rio" is a very cool acoustic song. This disc went quickly out of print and is now hard as heck to find. Also have a tour poster from this album with all four members pictured on it. Saw a copy on display at the Stryper Expo, but it was not for sale.
In the Stryper book "Loud 'n Clear" Tim and Robert both admit that this was not anything they had planned to make permanent. Apparently Tim didn't even care for the music much. Both Tim and Robert appeared in the video for "Hard Road to Go."
Oh, the band name comes for Rex (meaning "King") Carroll and Jimi (or "James") Bennett, in case anyone cared. (-:
1. "The Fall"
"The Fall" was the sophomore release from King James, originally released in 1997. The core of the band was comprised of ex-Whitecross axe slinger Rex Carroll and vocalist Jimi Bennett. Together Rex (meaning "King") and Jimi Bennett (or "James") formed King James. Their first CD was along the lines of Rex's former band Whitecross and had a 1980's melodic metal sound. With "The Fall" the pair moved away from that style and moved into a 90's hard rock direction more along the lines of Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Black Label Society. Of course, "The Fall" pre-dates BLS by a couple years, but their styles are are still similar enough to give a good point of comparison. The guitars are down-tuned a full step and guitarist Rex Carroll plays a lot of those heavy, stop/start, groove based riffs and adds in some pinch harmonics. Vocalist Jimi Bennett has a slightly aggressive, mid-range vocal style. The sound is much darker than the band's debut or anything from Rex's former band, but he still knows how to write a hook and keep the songs interesting. For the most part the songs are all mid-paced, with the exception of the upbeat "Frenzy" and album closer "Heaven Is For Everyone", with the later being an immediately hooky song with a toe-tapping, sing-along chorus. Unfortunately by the late 1990's, guitar solos were no longer the "in" thing. Rex Carroll is known for his guitar shredding antics. To confine him to just playing simple riffs would be a crime. Thankfully, King James didn't follow this trend and Rex unleashes plenty of guitar fury on the album. All in all, King James plays on the strength of guitarist Rex Carroll and is a far stronger album than the band's oddly more popular debut.
The original release was produced and mastered by Rex Carroll in 1997, with the help of Tim Bushong. The new collector's edition from Retroactive Records has been remastered and brought up to modern standards. This edition also contains new cover artwork, new liner notes, photos, etc.