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King's X - Dogman CD (album) cover


King's X

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dogman is the fifth album from Texan trio King's X. It contains some of their heaviest moments so far with more emphasis on metallic riffs though overall there's little progression from the first 4. Having said that, it does contain some classic King's X moments with only a couple of weak tracks.

If you've already heard any King's X albums then stylistically you'll know what you're in store for here. If you haven't King's X are a melodic heavy rock band, sometimes drifting into metal with a few prog overtones. Their trump cards are Ty Tabors distinctive guitar playing; heavy at times, yet warm, rich and full with a style ranging from heavy riffing to sublime arpeggios. In Doug Pinnick they have a superb soulful vocalist (also plays bass) and Tabor and drummer Jerry Gaskill also contribute vocals and are known to take the occasional lead (though not here) but more often than not supply the Beatles influenced backing vocals.

Title track Dogman is a killer way to open an album. With its grinding stop/start riff it's one of the bands heaviest moments yet still retains a strong melody. After such a great start Shoes is a bit of a let down; another mid paced heavy riff but ultimately lacking a memorable tune. Pretend gets things back on track with an instantly catchy riff alongside Tabors lush arpeggios, a great vocal from Pinnick and driven along by his powerful toppy bass sound and Gaskills solid dependable drumming.

Flies and Blue Skies is King's X at their most sublime. A slow ballad, again an instantly likeable melody with those recognisable backing vocals alongside Pinnicks more restrained but still soulful lead. Black the Sky gets things back on a heavier track with its slow grinding riff and is another strong presence. Another beautiful melodic moment is Fool You, like Pretend marrying Tabors arpeggios with heavy riffs on the chorus.

Don't Care is one of the weaker tracks. While sticking to the King's X rocker formula it's simply let down by a weak melody, an integral part of all the best songs by the band. However it does have some dextrous drumming from Gaskill at the end as he solo's over the closing riff.

Sunshine Rain is beautiful with its sparse verse yet getting heavier for the chorus. Another sublime moment, where balance of light and shade against the heavier moments is spot on. Complain picks up the tempo and is another strong rocker with a strong hook. Followed by Human Behaviour, another track with a stop/start riff for the verse and grinding riff for the chorus. Not bad but not one of their better tracks.

Cigarettes is another typically restrained on the verse but heavier on the chorus type moment. Go To Hell is a bit of a throwaway track. Uptempo and noisy but thankfully short at 51 seconds. Better is Pillow which is another slow paced slice of heavy rock.

I'm not normally a lover of bands playing other peoples songs, a bit of a pointless exercise unless you can do it better which rarely happens. However the live version of Manic Depression that closes this album is a well executed faithful reproduction of the Jimi Hendrix classic.

So another excellent album from King's X with just a couple of weaker tracks keeping it from being an outright classic but well worth adding to your collection.

Report this review (#184678)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars KING'S X started their careers with 3 amazing albums, but a lot of fans were disappointed with their self titled fourth record. "Dogman" is their fifth, and they come out swinging on this one. This is perhaps their heaviest album ever, and by far the heaviest one up to this point.

"Dogman" has an intro similar to getting punched in the face when you didn't even know you were in a fight. A ton of bottom end as Doug sings with passion. This is a grungy headbanger. "Shoes" has some harmonies that come and go in contrast to the heavy sections. "Pretend" has this powerful undercurrent throughout. I like this one a lot. Chunky bass before 2 1/2 minutes as Ty starts to solo on his guitar. "Flies And Blue Skies" is fairly slow paced with some beautiful bluesy guitar that comes and goes. "Black The Sky" is a powerful and heavy tune. The guitar 2 1/2 minutes in is fantastic. This is the heaviest yet. "Fool You" builds to a climax then starts over again.

"Don't Care" has this heavy duty intro and the heaviness comes and goes throughtout. Nice drum work late on this one. "Sunshine Rain" is a catchy song,nice guitar before 3 minutes. "Complain" is a favourite of mine. It hits the ground running. Ty lights it up before 2 minutes. "Human Behaviour" sounds amazing. Huge bottom end in this one. "Cigarettes" is 3 incredible tracks in a row. Love Doug's pleading vocals and Ty's emotional playing. "Go To Hell" is less then a minute of chaos. An all out assault. Killer tune. "Pillow" has the most powerful intro yet ! This is ground-shaking. "Manic Depression" is a cover of a Hendrix tune. They nail it.

A must for fans of heavy, melodic Rock. Great pictures of the band in the liner notes as well.

Report this review (#188814)
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#204321)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | Review Permalink

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