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King's X - Dogman CD (album) cover

DOGMAN

King's X

 

Prog Related

4.03 | 46 ratings

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TheOutlawXanadu
5 stars There are few albums that, played under entirely different circumstances, prompt the same reactions from the listener regardless. The reason for this is that most albums are designed with a specific appeal in mind; Blackfield trying to depress us while The Shins strive for free-flowing acceptance because their respective crafts couldn't work any other way. However, every so often a band descends from the clouds that transcends this law, their work so recklessly self- bearing that it achieves its goals no matter when or where it's played. Such is the case with King's X's Dogman, a disc so radiant that it finds a way to find you no matter what you're seeking.

The reason why Dogman achieves this universal congruence with its listeners' emotions is because of the contradictions that form its being. King's X writes heavy, hooky music, but their vocals are performed in a more poppy, soulful vein and their lyrics tread the middle ground between negativity and positivity. Almost all of the songs here speak of the band's troubles, but counter with aspirations of hope at some point down the line. In the magnificent "Black the Sky", for example, the band speaks of the discrimination they've been subjected to because of their differences of opinion with others, but assert that at the end of the day, "Something keeps me hanging around/I guess my mother made me strong". Words like those, especially when uttered with glorious sound providing their foundation, inspire us to hang around as well.

At the end of the day, the album is probably best digested as a melodic collection of pop metal, its swagger drawing you in like only the best of albums can. Despite their depth, "Dogman" and "Complain", for example, are, at their core, opportunities for head-banging in abundance. There's something overly basic, but at the same time subtly complex about the way Ty Tabor's heavy guitars compliment Doug Pinnick's groovy bass, and about how solid Jerry Gaskill is as a drummer. As a musician, he's probably one of the most underrated players ever to grace the kit.

And that's not to associate King's X with bands that focus primarily on musicianship - because they don't - but there is an intelligence in their songwriting that makes them stand out. Early on in their career, the band was labelled as a progressive rock act, and you could argue that they still are, but not in the conventional sense. They're progressive in that they do odd things with their music, such as during the pre-chorus in the masterful "Fool You", when the guitars strike at just the right moments in comparison to the vocals and create multiple hooks within short stretches. It's difficult to explain exactly how King's X does what they do, but again, that's what makes them so special.

The record also works as an engrossing emotional roller coaster, tracks like "Pretend" and "Cigarettes" evoking the detached side of us all. Sometimes we feel alienated, and sometimes we just want to be alone, many times because so few people are like us. These songs - and, for that matter, King's X's career as a whole - are prime examples of those feelings. The band has always been on the outside looking in, and they've never really been accepted for who they are, but they've remained true to themselves through it all, and it's a colossal aspect of what makes Dogman so good. During the writing process of the album, the band was facing more individual turmoil than ever before, which is why despite the album's upbeat musical tone, it is often times dark in a way we haven't seen since from the group.

As demonstrated by Dogman, rock music is at its best when complimented by other styles, but while still retaining the qualities that people know if for. It's always fun to listen to music in search of the purest entertainment, but compositions that strive for deeper meaning are worthwhile as well. The album allows for the best of both those worlds to thrive alongside one another, living in harmony and helping the other to reach its fullest potential. To be able to freely traverse both plains is a gift, one that music's most underrated trio has wrapped in the most wonderful of packages and offered to us through their selflessness. Take advantage of it, because in the end, that's all King's X ever wanted.

TheOutlawXanadu | 5/5 |

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