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Non-Prog CD Reviews

King's X

Ogre Tones

Review by Josh Turner

This has the angst-ridden riffs they're famous for as well as majestic melodies in the vein of The Beatles. There's no doubt as to where they're from or whose been influencing them lately. It's an album that should make them proud. I was shocked at the quality of this release. I'm a fan of their earlier Ear Candy. Up until now that was my favorite. If that was candy for the ear, this is nothing short of ecstasy.

They have more than a few first-rate songs on this album. My favorites include the beefy, but bouncy "Bebop", the acoustically alluring "Honesty", and the giftedly-executed "Get Away". The most interesting piece is "Sooner or Later" as it's quite long for a King's X composition - i.e. 7 minutes on the dot. It takes time to build and then it rocks out. It's a mini-rock-opera that shows the band has a smidgen of prog rock still left in its blood. Through almost every piece, Ty's guitar dips into the psychedelic paints. He brushes the canvas with the most blissful broad strokes. While Doug's voice and bass are better than ever, Jerry's drums have a delicate disposition that we've never seen before.

It's obvious that their activities on the side have greatly influenced their music (e.g. Doug Pinnick, Poundhound; Jerry Gaskill, Come Somewhere; Ty Tabor, Platypus, Jughead, Jelly Jam, etc.). They incorporate new innovations and take their music significantly higher. Even if these songs don't reach the chart-topping stature of their popular eighties single (that would be "It's Love"), there are a handful of hotties camping out here. They have both the good looks and the charm. These songs are clever, catchy, and incorporate a high-level of cool-factor. In a nutshell, this is their best release ever.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Alone
They waste little time getting the party started. Within seconds, someone is screaming and the bass is blaring. The guitar causes gangrene to form over this fresh cut. A deep wound has been afflicted, but it's not all ear-splitting aggression. In addition to their wicked and malevolent ways, we weave in and out of a chorus that is as affable and easy-going as The Beatles. This short, melodious, and frequently-menacing number makes for one fine single.
Stay
Like a skyscraper, this sways from side to side as brisk winds stroke upon its facade. While the weather is alive and kicking, the construction remains solid and unyielding. Insulation within its walls muffles the commotion going on outside. Looking down, the sheer height makes butterflies flutter fast within our bellies. Leaning away from the edge, you'll take comfort once both feet are planted firmly.
Hurricane
This song has very little spit and polish. It's simple, repetitive, and dirty, but it's a heck of a lot of fun splashing around in the sludge.
Fly
The vocals in this piece are very strong. Doug expresses passion and hot-blooded fury. The others offer restraint, offsetting Doug's belligerence with a harmony that's cool, calm, and collected.
If
This ballad reminds me of Amy Grant's "Baby, Baby". Instead of wooing the child to sleep, this fascinating mobile of sound reverberates and rattles.
Bebop
As I said earlier, this is one of my favorites off the album. Its rock, blues, and even gives us a little bit of Grease's "Riddell High". Throughout this song we get a handful of "whop bama loo"'s and it just makes everything come together. Coming from King's X, this is totally unexpected, but the evolution is elementary.
Honesty
The best things in life come in pairs. One of the strongest compositions on the album is followed by another winner. It's the only acoustic, but it's brilliant. While Ty's ability on the electric is incredible, he is equally skilled on the acoustic. Coupled with the charming chorus and Jerry's precise percussions, this song is a definite frontrunner as my overall favorite.
Open My Eyes
This item has their recognizable shape and form, but comes in design that has more depth and dimension. They use an old etching to scratch out this fabulous new silhouette. It comes framed with distinct vocals, recognizable riffs, and an edgy bass.
Freedom
It's debatable whether this is for patriots or rebels. In this piece, Doug shares satire and commentary on what it means to be free and the dear price we pay to have it. The licks are luscious, but the focus is primarily on the lyrics.
Get Away
The singing is a combination of dialogue, chanting, harmony, and singing. The political and poetic lyrics will make you ponder deep-seated questions. The guitars are slick, the percussions are porous, and the bass is mellow. When taken over the bridge, we experience an extremely smooth transition.
Sooner or Later
Unlike their earlier efforts, the music on this album doesn't seem so forced. In this song especially, they show true patience. They even take the time to space out in the middle. Every detail is carefully carved and nothing seems rushed. There is just enough here to wet your whistle. Since this goes well with a flickering flame, expect it to urge the lighter's out.
Muddy
This ragtag bunch starts out scruffy, beat-up, tattered, and tired. It has street smarts, but gradually acquires class. As it progresses, a shower, a shave, and a well-pressed suit give this a whole different look and demeanor. This plays well on both sides of the tracks.
Bam
This is less of a song and more of a statement. They start this cut with an abrupt "Bam!" and then end the album with the first commercial ever recorded. The sole goal of this advertisement was to sell a phonograph. In a way, this was the start of the musical revolution. It's quite appropriate when you consider the number of rotations you'll be giving this album. Like the arrival of the first recordings, it too marks a transitional period in music, but in this case, it's specific to this band. King's X has grown beyond the stagnant sound of grunge and developed a style that is significantly more dynamic and full of zip. They've blown away their past efforts and taken their talents sky-high. All in all, Ogre Tones is a giant orc of an album and one mammoth achievement.
 
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