Monday, September 19, 2005

King's X - Ogre Tones CD Review



Ogre Tones is the eleventh full length disc from the sometimes Christian, sometimes not, sometimes political, sometimes not, sometimes controversial, sometimes not, but always playing all the time, hard rock band King’s X. Now if you were to factor in the solo and side projects of all of the members of this band, you’d be nearing 20 full lengths in the 18 years that this band has been around. The only band that I can think of that is consistently putting out new music in one form or another is Dream Theater and their myriad of side projects. The only difference between the two bands musical output is that King’s X sound has changed a lot more over the years than our prog friends in Dream Theater.

King’s X last three cds have had a decidedly more stripped down, raw, and heavy tone to them, a progression that I expected them to keep heading down with this release, but instead they make almost a complete 180 and return to their more mellow (in relation to their last few cds) and straight up hard rock sound that they indulged in during the middle of their career. If anything, Ogre Tones feels like an unofficial sequel to Ear Candy, which was possibly one of the most accessible cds of their career.

What will interest many fans is the vitriol and jaded anger that permeates the lyrics of this cd. Throughout their career Doug Pinnick, King’s X vocalist/bassist, has always had a knack for writing lyrics that often bordered, and sometimes indulged in, his spirituality without sounding preachy or clich├ęd. With the release of Tape Head and everything following, the lyrics have made a shift towards the introspective and, at times, political. On Ogre Tones there is plenty of fire behind what Doug has to say. In some songs, such as “Freedom”, he rails against the hypocrisies and ironies of life in the United States while in other songs, such as “Get Away” he questions his faltering faith with lines like, “Hey God, I watched the news tonight. Why are your people so fucking mean? Hey God… why do the innocent suffer? Where do you go to get away?” True, they’re not lyrical masterpieces and feel a little forced at times, but the fact remains that Doug definitely has a beef with a lot of things in society.

Musically the band has shed a lot of the metallic edges of their recent works and refocused their efforts on creating well thought out, yet catchy, moderately paced hard rock songs. There are also a few moments of prog thrown in for good measure, such as the seven minute epic “Sooner or Later”, which give portions of the album an airy feel.

All in all, when you stack this release up against the gigantic catalog that King’s X have already amassed, it’s hard to say if it’s one of their better or worse efforts since they have always consistently cranked out quality music. Long time fans will not be disappointed at all because, well, they’re long time fans. Fans of their very early works will like that they’ve shed the edge of their more recent efforts. Fans of their recent efforts will think that they’ve gone soft. Lastly, fans of their middle efforts will be in heaven while listening to Ogre Tones. And if by chance, you’re not a fan, this is actually a great jumping on point to use to get acquainted with the band. So as I’m thinking about it, no one really has an excuse as to why they shouldn’t pick up this cd, so go out there and get a copy!

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