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XV

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(94 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I discovered Ty, Dug & Jerry about 3 years ago from a friend. It was like…WHO are these guy’s and why have I never heard their music. Well, they are my favorite musicians now, and I have collected almost all their CD’s and side projects (I very highly recommend Jughead & The Mob & especially The Jelly Jam). So how is this CD? Let me put it this way…I am going to see them at House of Blues in August and if they only play from XV, I would be estatic. If you are reading this review, STOP-GET YOUR CREDIT CARD OUT-ORDER THIS CD IMMEDIATELY.

    Posted on January 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • XV is King’s X’s fifteenth release, not album per se. Up to now, they’ve put out eleven studio albums, one best-of, and two live discs. Therefore, this is their twelfth album.

    Interestingly enough, like in the old days of cassettes, the album is divided into Side A and B, both of which contain six tracks, plus two bonus songs attached to the end. Once again, all hallmarks of the King’s X sound are perfectly delivered, from the multiple vocal harmonies to in-your-face guitar work to solid-as-a-rock rhythm workout. As is the case with every King’s X album, in between these numbers there are also slower-paced cuts, such as the simplistic pop of “Blue” and the Ty Tabor-sung “Repeating Myself”, with its beautiful acoustic guitar arrangement and smooth vocal lines. Thick with harmony at the end, the guitars ringing beneath the vocals are truly beautiful.

    Then there is the driving rhythm of the album opener “Pray”, which immediately ventures into groove-inflicted territory, complete with fuzzy bass sounds, eerie percussion, and pyschedelic guitar voicings. The production is thick and heavy, and the harmonies are filled with hooks. Lyrically examining religion, and the way the guitars at the end emulate Doug Pinnick’s vocals, the song sort of recalls their earlier body of work. In parallel, the vigorously syncopated rhythms of “Alright”, chock full of grinding riffs and drum battery, give off the impression that the song was recorded in one take — so powerful is its impact.

    Other standouts also include “Julie”, sung by Jerry Gaskill. With bluesy guitar parts, a poppy clean voice, and pounding bass arrangements, his vocals are clear as a bell, and the brief yet intense instrumental break offered here is perhaps the highlight of the album. That said, my favourite tune has to be the politically charged “Move” with its gruelling bass intro and steady, almost machine-like drumming. The chorus is simply awesome and lets Pinnick pour out the rage that built within.

    There are also shorter pieces, which barely break the three-minute mark, like the rigid execution of “Rocket Ship”, the instantly memorable “Stuck” (check Pinnick’s chants at the end), and the hilarious “Go Tell Somebody”, a tune that will get the crowds going on stage. Those anticipating Ty Tabor’s softer side coming to the fore will be pleased with both the Beatles-like “I Don’t Know”, whose ending recalls early King’s X; and the moving “I Just Want to Live”, detailing lyrics of struggles of life.

    As with Ogre Tones, the CD was produced by Michael Wagener and sounds organic and fresh, perhaps more so than its predecessor. The fact that so many others were asked to partake in the choruses has certainly enriched the harmonies in these tunes. Also, this time around, the band went into the studio after having written all the songs, which has resulted in a more unified work overall.

    Of the two bonus tracks, “Love and Rockets (Hell’s Screaming)” certainly commands your attention, particularly for its bass-centred groove construction.

    Knowing King’s X has some of the most rabid fans, they should be all over this album.

    Posted on January 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • King’s X fans rejoice…another gem here with XV. This is an album you can sink your teeth into. 14 tracks of the music that only King’s X can create! They have their own style and a large fan base that supports them because they are damn good at what they do…ROCK! I am loving this album, and here is my take on it track by track. I put a star by the songs I think are the best.

    *1. Pray For Me – growling bass line that opens up to a rocking tune that challenges the faithfully religious to pray for the writer of the song (dUg). dUg sings the main verses and chorus with Jerry and Ty filling the background vocals. In this day and age…sometimes I agree with the sentiment of this song. Some people are so eager to say they have all of the answers when it comes to religion, but I always question things and feel like I don’t have the answers. You can pray for me too!

    2. Blue – a slower melodic tune that has a great chorus sung by dUg. The message equates being stagnant to being crazy. Things in change makes you crazy but it’s just normal. The lyrics on this album are really challenging to me, and I love that.

    3. Repeating Myself – nice intro by Ty on a cascading guitar riff and then main vocals throughout the song. This song is a melodic slow tempo song that talks about the monotonous things that happen each day. Ty has some really nice guitar fills and textures throughout the song.

    *4. Rocket Ship – this is a fun rocking tune that dUg sings for the sheer joy of things and he asks you to join him on his new found sense of imagination to deal with today’s tough world. This is a great song to have on in the car.

    *5. Julie – song sung by Jerry about the love of his life. Acoustic guitar throughout and nice melodic electric guitar and bass compliment Jerry’s very Beatlesque voice. Not many drummers out there can fill his musical shoes of drumming, singing, guitar playing abilities and songwriting.

    6. Alright – straight ahead rocker with fast tempo. dUg sings this song talking about the worries and joys of growing older with those you love.

    7. Free – dUg sings this song criticizing most people for foolishly dealing with money, credit cards, etc. Not a bad song musically, but the lyrics are not my favorite. The song has a great bass line.

    8. I Just Want to Live – another song in Ty’s repertoire with a slow tempo rock song with a clean vocal in that stereotypical Beatlesque style King’s X is known for having. This is very enjoyable melodic song with a simple strumming guitar part. Ty sings about getting in touch with his feelings.

    *9. Move – rhythmic and driving bass and drum intro. Ty swells in some guitar, and then dUg comes in with his soulful voice and Ty ups the guitar part and slams you into a great chorus of grinding guitar riff, dUg’s voice in echoing effects, thumping bass and solid drumming.

    10. I Don’t Know – another melodic song from Ty apologizing for his indecision. Similar melodic style from Ty we have heard before. Good song…Ty is a very good song writer and often overlooked for his abilities in this area.

    *11. Stuck – one of the more heavy tunes on the record. dUg delivers the vocals during a slower verse, but then build to a harmonic chorus discussing how love can get you stuck in strange places.

    *12. Go Tell Somebody – the crown jewel of the album…nearly the title of the album. A different sound for King’s X, but a great tune. The guitar part is fast and driving flurry of fretwork, and the vocals are simple but suit the song very well…harmony throughout the chorus. If you like it, then you know what to do.

    *13. Love and Rockets (Hell’s screaming) – the first of two bonus tracks on the album. This one dark and grinding is a fun song to listen to as it is one more heavy than the album has to offer. I like King’s X metal side and it shines brightly here in a song talking about hating people because they are different.

    *14. No Lie – almost a jam on a blues riff that turns into a fun romp through the blend of music style that only King’s X can deliver…growling bass, melodic and harmonic vocal parts, gritty guitar parts that mix blues, rock and metal…all over a strong and solid rhythm of drums. Guitar solos will make Ty’s fans happy and some parts sound a little like Brian May.

    Posted on January 18, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • pushing 4.5 stars…

    I cannot stop listening to this album – and it’s been awhile since I’ve said that about ANY album. XV, for all of its simplicities, is still hard to categorize; and that’s what makes it great. It’s the type of album that, while packing a legitimate punch upon first listen, doesn’t necessarily blow you away upon first listen; and again, that’s what makes it great! Your brain goes through the mechanical intellectualizations the first time around, taking inventory…no real soloing, no epics, nothing incredibly new sounding or adventurous… all tunes are short and “sweet.” And frequently, the danger with such a recipe lies in the fact that this sort of thing may trigger you to permanently retire the album to your shelf (or out of your ipod) after just one shot – forever forgotten.

    But not this album! This is King’s X we’re talking about!!! What other group can write an entire song around “One day it’s gonna be alright alright yeah alright alright yeah,” with all the background vocals and trimmings of anthemic sing-along, AND have it come out sounding so damn… ARTISTIC!!! And so it is for reasons like this, that King’s X proves to have [once again] escaped the chasm of a one-listen-toss-away, because there’s something subconscious in you that wants you to return to track one and blast through it again.

    And again and again. Until finally you give yourself permission to sing along with the “na na na na” syllable chorus of “BROKE” with all the serious, soulful, heartfelt fist-pumping urgency that is deserved. While I’d still file this as a “grows on you” album, if only because you will (I PROMISE) become more obsessed with it with each new listen, I do confess it grows on you very quickly – so watch out! The only heartbreak for me is the “straight-A-kid-has-expectations-set-even-higher” syndrome. We all know the band’s potential…and given the electric energy in the air here, it pains me when I think perhaps this coulda-woulda-shoulda been a…dare I say…masterpiece, had they taken their newfound energy and pushed the envelope of adventurousness a little more – but while still leaving all the “whoa yeah’s” firmly intact!

    Alas, I’m sure a lot of fans will disagree with me, triumphantly applauding this release as a sigh-of relief “return to form” in a way, that still feels fresh and in a phase all of its own. But don’t get me wrong, who am I to disgree? Right now, I’m addicted.

    Ok fine, 5 stars – the Brian May guitar harmonies at the very end are a knockout punch

    Posted on January 18, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • At this point in the career of King’X, one can’t help but be reminded of Rush. Fans tend to divide both bands history into several ‘eras’. King’s X found a strong fan base during their ‘Sam Taylor’ era, which arguably lasted through Dogman (though Taylor didn’t produce that album). Ear Candy, Tapehead, & Mr. Bulbous found the band searching for a new direction, surviving divorce, loss of faith, and surviving the challenges of promoting themselves through a smaller label. Most fans consider Manic Moonlight a low point for the band, so scattered and directionless that some of us feared for their future. The retro ‘Black Like Sunday’ didn’t lend much hope, as the band reached back to pre-Taylor songs instead of looking forward. It seemed the train had run out of steam and the well of ideas had run dry.

    Enter Tom Wagner who produced Ogre Tones, an album filled with fresh sounds that also hearkened back to the bands earlier prog days with Sam Taylor. I believe that King’s X has been on a journey to find their place in the world musically and spiritually, and XV just may be the culmination of that trip. Like Rush, they have changed, confused fans, and all but disappeared from the public eye, but they have stubbornly refused to keep churning out the same old album year after year.

    XV picks up where Orge Tones left off, but builds on it’s strengths. Lush three part harmonies have been largely scaled back in favor of shouted gang vocals, and small touches of the Beatlesque vocals that marked their earlier works. The spacey, proggy sound of Grethen and FHL are gone, never to return it seems, but in it’s place we have a lean, tight, solid wall of sound that focuses on melody, with memorable song structure, and only hints of the complexities the band is capable of.

    Hey, it’s King’s X. They don’t have to prove themselves to ANYONE.

    The new listener gets a clean, accessible version of the legendary band, while long-time fans get a mature, focused effort that’s probably their strongest since Dogman. The trio is obviously revitalized and have moved beyond their roots, their tragedies, and their musical meandering. It’s as if they’re unapologetically saying, “This is the new King’s X. Love it or leave it.” Oh yeah – and it’s happy (for the most part). Remember when King’s X was happy? The fun is back.

    I give it four stars because Ty’s guitar solos are few, and many fans listen to the band precisely because the man is a god on the guitar – we need more!

    Otherwise, the next logical chapter in the King’s X story. It’s great to watch a band grow up and figure out who they are. I’m gonna Go Tell Somebody.

    Posted on January 18, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now