on 17 June 2003
Having bought all the King's X CD's from "Out of the Silent Planet" to date, and seen the quality of songwriting and production spiral downwards from 1998 onwards - it's fantastic to find that on this album (ironically a collection of songs written in the mid-80's but recorded in the last 8 months), they've made their most enjoyable, accessible and direct album since the days when they were signed to Atlantic Records.
Reviewers in the States are generally slating this album, but for me it is wonderful to hear the catchy songwriting, superb vocal harmonies, and memorable riffs that make up this collection. Their last 3 albums have been experimental in the extreme, generally at the expense of listenability, meaning that you often ended up with songs that were plodding and entirely unmemorable - "Black Like Sunday" finally goes a long way towards addressing this balance.
The band sound like they're enjoying themselves - it must have been fun to go back to ideas that were nearly 20 years old, and re-work them with the benefit of hindsight (and their playing experience over the last 9 albums and hundreds of live dates).
It's also great to hear some complex drumming coming back into the picture - Jerry Gaskill is a seriously under-rated player. Welcome back guys - this incarnation of King's X has been away too long!! Stay put this time!
on 18 November 2003
Many albums down the line from the superb (and pinnacle?) Gretchen album, KX come full circle and we should all feel better for it. Based on this offering they must rue the fact that it's not their first in some ways - production at last balanced, great big riffs (I can see the mosh pits loving certain parts on this, bounce bounce bounce) and the trademark Pinnick soulfullness and Tabor guitar work.
The current music climate is right for this one, a bit punky, a bit eighties (especially from the lyrical point of view) but still retaining that King's X feel. Standout track without doubt is 'Dreams' with it's reggae-leaning build up and huge bouncing chorus and, as always, a certain spirit of hopefulness to the writing. This carefully supported up with eastern influenced 'Screamer' and the ceratinly self-indulgent but still fine 'Johnny'. As ever, KX wearing their hearts on sleeves.
Indeed, I agree with the previous reviewer in that they seem to be enjoying proceedings that much more. In fact, they don't seem so concerned with their own perfection, tracks like 'Rock Pile' and 'Finished' just bounce along happily and it's nice to hear definate Poundhound 'it's all in the riff' accessability. The harmonies have been trimmed down (in quantity, certainly not in quality!) and used more as a decent tool now rather than just lavishing on everything.
Really, I hope this changes their place in the world, though I fear it will be too late. They need a slot on the Perfect Circle tour next year, it COULD change everything (sense a petition anyone?). I recently read that 250,000 records was the most they ever sold with one offering (suprisingly, Faith Hope Love) so let's see if we can help them along eh? A fine record from a so-influential band and one that can still write riffs and offer diversity that sneers in the face of these new boy metal bands. Linkin Park et al take note...............the old boys can still do it!