King's X came roaring out of Houston, TX with a progressive metal sound that was a cross between Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Rush with layered vocals harmonies that some have dubbed "Beatle-esque." The band is a critics favorite as well as a favorite of musicians, they had big label backing for years and even played Woodstock '94, yet somehow they never seemed to break it big in the mainstream. I've been a fan since "Out of the Silent Planet." If you are into these guys you also need to check out fellow Houston art rockers Galactic Cowboys. King's X is: Ty Tabor (guitars), Doug Pinnick (bass) and Jerry Gaskill (drums). Doug Pinnick who besides recording solo projects under the name Poundhound, also recorded an album with Bruce Franklin of Trouble called Supershine.
King's X - Out of the Silent Planet (Megaforce) 1988
A great debut album by one of the most original and creative progressive bands ever. The lyrics are also intelligent and thought provoking, revealing slightly some of the members Christian beliefs. If I am not mistaken, the title is taken from a book by C.S. Lewis. "Out of the Silent Planet" is an astonishing record from start to finish.
1."Out of the Silent
"Gretchen Goes to Nebraska" is the sophomore release from Texas rockers King's X. It is a fantastic follow-up to the brilliant "Out of the Silent Planet". The album has even more catchy hooks, layered vocals and heavy, down-tuned guitars. King's X sound was so far different from anything that was on the scene in the late 80's and was definitely a precursor to the alternative rock that would become popular in the 1990's.
King's X - Faith Hope Love (Atlantic) 1990
1."We Are Finding
Who We Are" (4:39)
Pure brilliance! This is by far my favorite King's X album. Filled with beautiful harmonic vocals sung on top of some of the heaviest guitar riffs ever assembled. A masterpiece in every sense of the word. The lyrics are excellent as well, based on Christianity yet more thought provoking than most "turn of burn" bands.
Kings X (Atlantic) 1992
1."The World Around
Following in the footsteps of "Faith, Hope, & Love" this release is as fabulous as the last. OK, the attempt at commercialism in "Black Flag" is present, but even this song reeks of sheer musical excellence. Great cover art as well. I thought this one would break King's X, but alas, it did not. Argh!
A bit more simplistic than their first four discs, but still a great listen from beginning to end. The title track is marvelous, heavy and catchy. It is one of the band's signature songs. I can't even think of the name of the song without humming it in my head. Some experimenting on songs like "Cigarettes" and "Go To Hell" that keeps the album interesting. The Jimi Hendrix cover at the end is marvelous as well. The dog on the cover comes in a variety of different colors. Mine is yellow.
King's X - Building Blox (Atlantic) 1994
1. "The World Around
A nice little promotional compilation cd that contains an unreleased acoustic version of "Shot of Love." Picked this one up at a used store for $6. This one was never released to the public.
King's X - Ear Candy (Atlantic) 1996
King's X desperate try at commercial success. It failed! Too bad 'cause "Ear Candy" is a pretty good album. No where near as progressive or even as epic as "Faith, Hope, and Love." "Ear Candy" simply lacked the art-rock tendencies of their past and placed too much emphasis on psychedelic rock/metal. Still a good listen with all the beefy riffs, layered vocals, and catchy lyrical hooks. Cool cover art as well. The Christian references have all but disappeared on this one.
"Why King's X never became a hugely successful and well-known hard rock outfit will forever remain a mystery, especially after listening to the totally original and memorable compositions that comprise their 1997 Best of King's X compilation." This is a quote from the AMG Music guide and I couldn't agree more. King's X are one of the most original and outstanding bands of the 90's, yet somehow the populous managed to miss it. They will always have their Grateful Dead-like cult following, but I guess commercial success just was not meant to be. This "best of" package also includes three unreleased studio songs and an extended live version of "Over My Head" that was recorded at Woodstock II 1994. Wonder if they will ever release the whole show? Anyhow, held out for a long time for a used copy since I already own 80% of the music on this disc. Found this copy for $4.50.
King's X - Tape Head (Metal Blade) 1998
1. "Groove Machine"
This album caused a big up-roar because Doug Pinnick "came out" about his homosexuality. Well new label Metal Blade spent a lot of money marketing this album, along with Ty Tabor's solo album, in the Christian market and pressed thousands of copies with the Diamante label, which is the distributor that distributes Metal Blade's Christian bands to the Christian stores. Once Doug came out, Diamante refused to distribute them and Metal Blade were stuck with all these copies. Ah, but on to the music. well, "Tape Head" isn't a bad release but is no where near as memorable as the first four albums. Much better than "Ear Candy" however. Don't play this one much at all. I think the three King's X dudes were spending too much time working on their solo projects. Doug's Poundhound and Ty Tabor's "Moonflower Lane" are actually better King's X albums than this one.\
"Mr. Bulbous" is heavier and slightly darker than past releases yet still retaining the classic King's X sound. This was one of the few King's X albums that I put off buying. For some reason I haven't been as impressed with their newer material than the first four cds or so. I'm not sure why though as the band has faithfully retained their sound and their vision. It must just be me. Still it's great to hear another album by these veterans.
King's X - Manic Moonlight (Metal Blade) 2001
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! KING'S X "Manic Moonlight" doesn't suck! I put off buying this CD forever because everyone said it sucked and because I was not really into "Mr. Bulbous" as much as some of the band's earlier material. However, after finally picking a copy up for myself and giving it only one listen, I once again realized why I need to to listen for myself, even after reading reviews and getting friend's opinions. This CD is pretty darn good. "Manic Moonlight" is a bit more experimental compared to some others, but that is one of the things I have always liked about King's X anyhow. They defy definition and are not afraid to step outside of the box. I also think this CD has a ton more funk and groove than some of their more recent releases and certainly is more psychedelic. (Think Trouble Manic Frustration type psychedelic.) "Believe" is a monstrous song that is as heavy as it is funky. "Static" is the equally cool . "Yeah" gave me a good laugh. Deep, meaningful lyrics in that chorus. I suppose the use of drum loops, together with the earthy, experimental tone of the disc, scared some people away. I am sure this is why some people don't like this disc. However, I do, and that is all that counts. "Yeah!
King's X drop the experimentation of "Manic Moonlight" and return to a solid slab of music that can only be described as King's X music. I had read somewhere that most of these tunes, if not all of them, were written years ago and recorded fresh for this album. If that be true or not, I don't really care as this album is quite good and doesn't sound dated in the slightest. Album opener "Black Like Sunday" and "Danger Zone" are immediate attention grabbers recalling the Dogman-era of the band. "Working Man" is a funky, groove rocker that has a slight reggae sound in parts. "Bad Luck" is a mean and aggressive track. "Johnny" manages to create as sound that brings memories of The Cars or The Police before it breaks into an extended jam. Really the entire disc is intriguing and enjoyable. As with every King's X album, "Black Like Sunday" is filled with infectious rhythms, awesome vocal melodies and heavy, groove laden guitar riffs. I have always enjoyed the Jerry Gaskill's drum work as well. No only is he a tight drummer, but he is also a trip to watch live. It's almost as if he just floats behind that drum kit on a cloud of air. Unlike some of the band's more recent releases, this CD is immediately more interesting to me. This may be partially due to the fact that Jerry, Ty and Doug were not consumed with their various side projects. While I completely enjoyed some of those projects, I am glad the band put their focus back into King's X. One small annoyance is the track listing on the back of the CD is not in the correct order. The listing above is correct. The disc also includes CDRom extra; a 1986 video, lyrics, pictures and a screensaver.
King's X - Live All Over The Place (Metal Blade) 2004
It's about time that King's X issue a live CD. This is something I have been wanting for years. Having seen these guys in concert a few times, they are a band to be reckoned with live. They are heavy as a freight train, yet they still retain that killer soul that their studio records have. Well that same vibe has been captured here on this 2-CD set. Instead of just releasing one show from their recent tour, they compiled this show from soundboard recordings throughout the years. However, they have put it together using some studio wizardry that makes is sound as if it were one complete show. As usual Doug does a lot of 'preaching' during the songs. In the middle of "Believe" for instance, Doug goes off into a rant about believing in oneself instead of believing in any god. Hmmmm, a bit different message from the one he preached in the early days. Also the band doesn't always stick strictly to the way the songs were played on the album. Doug takes some liberties in the lyrics. In "Dogman" for instance, he adlibs the words "I like 'em skinny, I like 'em fat and I like 'em from a bong." Once again, a bit disappointing to hear one of my favorite artists promoting drug use. However, for the most part this CD is not disappointing. "Live All Over the Place" can basically be split up into three section, starting off "electric," going into an acoustic set in the middle, and then wrapping things up with a return to maiximum amplification. Whether it be electric or acoustic, the music contained herein is pure brilliance, in my not so humble opinion. King's X live simply annihilate. The extended version of "Over My Head" is awesome, as is the smokin' version of "Moan Jam" and "Johnny". I also think the song selection is quite good. Many of my favorites are included on here. I must also add that this disc sounds "live". In other words it doesn't sound like the band spent hours in the studio overdubbing their parts, but rather this is a genuine "live in front of an audience" performance. Quite nice!
King's X - Ogre Tones (Inside Out) 2005
1. "Alone" (2:57)
Ogre Tones is King's X first studio album with new material in four years. It is a bit darker and more melacholy than some of their early stuff. I've heard different comparisons, but I'd say this CD has more in common with "Ear Candy" than any other CD in the band's catalog. "Ogre Tones" has a poppy, trippy, psychedelic feel to it, which the cover art indicates. As usual for King's X this disc is loaded with the trio's trademark vocal harmonies, the songs are dynamic and the song writing is pretty varied from song to song. "Hurricane", "Freedom" and "Bebop" have that heavy groove that is the band's signature. "Honestly" is a minimialist, acoustic ballad and a highlight on this CD. This song could easily compete with "Summerland" as one of the band's finer mellow moments. Album opener and the first single from this album, "Alone" is a monster tune, although not in the sense that it 'rocks out' like "Dogman". If this song could manage to get some radio play, I think it could bring the band some of the fame that it so richly deserves. "Sooner or Later" is a slow, dark, melancholy jam. This song is essentially a cop of "The Burning Down" from "Gretchen Goes to Nebraska", and similarly features a killer, feedback-encrusted, guitar solo outro from Ty. The reworking of "Goldilox" was a nice inclusion here. I am not sure but I think this song is a bonus track that will not appear on all versions of "Ogre Tones". Lyrically, the group grapples with issues ranging from death to the current unrest in the world. I am sure someone will note and be offended by Dug's blatant use of an expletive on "Get Away".
1. "Pray" (4:15)
2. "Blue" (4:25)
3. "Repeating Myself" (4:10)
4. "Rocket Ship" (2:45)
5. "Julie" (2:41)
6. "Alright" (3:00)
7. "Broke" (3:56)
8. "I Just Want To Live" (4:22)
9. "Move" (4:03)
10. "I Don't Know" (3:33)
11. "Stuck" (3:57)
12. "Go Tell Somebody" (3:17)
13. "Love And Rockets (Hell's Screaming)" (4:23)
14. "No Lie" (5:20)
King's X are a unique band. They really sound like no others, despite their obvious influences. They've been around for decades now. At one time they found themselves on the edge of mass success, yet never quite hit that status. They've been on major labels, they've been on independent labels. They have gone through all sorts of controversy. People have accused them of being too liberal while others said they were far too religious. Through all of this, they have stayed true to their sound and just continued to release album after album of solid hard rock.
With "XV" the band continues to include most of the things that fans enjoy about them. The dense, bass-heavy grooves are still firmly in place. Songs like "Pray" and "Rocket Ship" are heavy as a two ton truck, but still contain plenty of melody as well. Actually, I would describe "Pray" as heavy funk. As well, there are the more melancholy, melodic numbers. The emotional "Julie" seems to channel the spirit of John Lennon and is one of my favorite songs on the album. Of course all the poetic lyrics and passionate vocals are in place as well. This time around we get vocals from all three members of King's X. Not since 1996's Ear Candy have we heard vocals from drummer Jerry Gaskill. (Gaskill sings on the aforementioned "Julie") The vocals harmonies this time around seem less layered and a little more "natural", if that is the right word.
The songs this time around seem to be shorter and concentrate more on the hook. Personally I found this to make the album more immediately likable, more so than some of the bands more recent releases. However, I was disappointed that Ty Tabor didn't let loose with any jaw dropping solos. Perhaps this was a conscious effort to focus more on songs, but I think some of these songs would have benefitted from the man's brilliant lead work. "Pray" in particular has what I can only describe as a breakdown that just begs for a solo. Ty does contribute some excellent songwriting to this release with the brilliant "Repeating Myself", as well as "I Just Want to Live" and "I Don't Know". This one easily made my Top 10 for 2008.