Company: Metal Blade Release: 2008 Reviewer: Al Kikuras Genre: Hard Rock, progressive rock
Another jewel in the crown of one of the greatest rock bands of all time
I'm the world's biggest King's X supporter, but not the biggest fan of all of their records. Kind of like King Diamond, post-Conspiracy (maybe it has something to do with the name?). I will always respect both acts. Always support them live and buy the records. But a King's X album hasn't thrilled me aside from Dogman and the recent Dogman-era live disc, Live and Live Some More. (And, for the record, King Diamond hasn't released a great album since Conspiracy. Some of the albums since were pretty good [The Eye, The Puppet Master], forgettable [Spider's Lullaby, Voodoo, Abigail II], or regrettable [Give Me Your Soul... Please].)
And I know there are those of you that worship everything King's X have done. And you won't get an argument here. Each album is a fine piece of work, and had I never heard Dogman, I'd probably be drooling over Gretchen Goes to Nebraska or Faith, Hope, Love like I do over Dogman. But Dogman, brothers and sisters. This is an album that is unlike any other. It is their Sgt. Peppers. Their Reign In Blood. Their Into the Pandemonium. Their Number of the Beast. THE album.
Why do I say this? It's THE EDGE. Having been blessed enough to see King's X live twice, THE EDGE is a part of their live show. The unpolished sound. The teeth that the slick production of many King's X records glosses over. Granted, the band is very polished in the live setting. Impeccable, even. But that raw live sound...the grit in the guitars, the growl of the 12-string bass, THE EDGE that was so prevalent on Dogman. That heavier sound that King's X has in the live arena was captured so well on that record and on the aforementioned 2-disc Live and Live Some More, where I find myself kneeling at the altar of King's X songs that otherwise might not have hit me with quite the ferocity they on the original recordings, is missing from so much of their discography.
So, when I first listened to XV and heard the bass sound that opens the album with "Pray," (incidentally, a song as good as any the band has penned), my jaw dropped. HERE it was. The King's X I love. THE EDGE. The hair on my arms stood up. I listened to the song three times before moving on to the rest of the record... something I NEVER do. I so did not want "Pray" to end, or the rest of the album to not stand up, that I was afraid to move on.
When I finally mustered up the courage and did, "Blue" did not disappoint. Doug Pinnick further solidifies his place as one of the underrated great singers. Never has a rock singer sounded so genuine. A simple song, one that was just waiting to be written. King's X pulled it out of thin air. The song is saturated with immediacy, just asking to be loved. And you can't help but do just that.
The album rolls on..."Repeating Myself" is sung by guitarist Ty Tabor, who manages to deftly avoid the Noel Redding curse of making you instantly want to skip over the songs he sings. "Rocket Ship" is next. I think this was the "single" so to speak. Or, at least the song King's X saw as much of a single as they'd have. Ironically, it shows the first kink in XV's armor. While the verse is thick, dark and heavy, the chorus sounds almost saccharine by comparison. Now on to "Julie." Another Tabor-sung song that calls heavily to The Beatles (think darker numbers like "I Want You") and a touch of Wings. Another good tune. "Alright" picks things up next, an upbeat and rocking number that brings the mood right into the stratosphere from the melancholy depths of "Julie."
Need I go on? Song to song? I hope not. I feel like I could, but you must be tired of reading by now. XV is a GREAT record. Does it do for me what Dogman does? No, but it comes closer than any other King's X record, and is another jewel in the crown of one of the greatest rock bands of all time. See them live. Buy the record. Show the world that good music still matters, and put another dollar or two in the pockets of a band that deserves ten million more.
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