The Music of King's X
King's X, a hard rock / heavy metal / Christian metal band that hails from the state of Texas (with origins elsewhere), may be one of the most under-rated and hardest working metal bands from the 80s and 90s, continuing into the current millenium. With an explosive and souful sound, this power trio combine hard-hitting riffs with funk, rock and gospel influences that makes their music unique and compelling to listen to.
The first few albums produced by King's X were in the vein of rock music with clearly distinguishable Christian roots. Songs such as "King" from their first album Out of the Silent Planet, "Mission" from Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, or "Everywhere I Go" on their break out album Faith, Hope, Love have elements of Christian beliefs in the lyrics, but the musical style continues to be that of heavy metal or hard rock. While the instrumental part of the songs may give the feel of something darker, the vocals belie something more beautiful and compelling, with astounding three part harmonies.
Doug Pinnick, who does the majority of the vocal work on King's X's albums has a smoky, gospel tone to his voice that adds a strange essence you won't find in most hard rock or heavy metal music. The vocal work on their cover of the Jimi Hendricks song "Manic Depression" also show how closely his voice resembles Jimi's voice as well. Ty Tabor, the guitar player of the power trio, also contributes a good deal of lead vocal work on their albums, though his voice is much more subdued - light and airy, almost. Their drummer, Jerry Gaskill, leads on a few songs, but he is mostly relegated to the powerful harmonies that the band produces.
King's X Music
King's X - Out of the Silent Planet
King's X - Faith, Hope, Love
After the successes of Faith, Hope, Love , the band turned from Christian themes to more standard rock fare, still keeping to stories about love, and life, with occasional forays into more thought provoking ideas. But the music continued on the same path, with complex melodies, harmonies and hard, driving rhythms that are hard to not appreciate for their musical quality.
As time went on, their sound changed, and they entered into what I call their "experimental phase" with albums such as Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous , and Manic Moonlight . On these albums, their songs seemed to become less about hard rock, and more about discovering a new sound, or simply a change of the texture of their music. As a long time King's X fan, I found it very difficult to accept this music as theirs at first, but in time it did start to grow on me. Their later album, Ogre Tones retained some of this change in feel while returning somewhat to their original sound and complexity. Their most recent album of new music, , returns even more to their original sound, and gets off to a good start with the first song, "Pray". Not only does this show some elements of earlier Christian influences (tempered by years of disillusionment with organized religion, it seems), it also contains the complex instrumental qualities and heavy rocking that were a staple of earlier King's X albums. XV
Unfortunately, despite the obvious talent of the group, the compelling music, and the intricacy of their sound in spite of having only three instruments, King's X has never gained the popularity that they so strongly deserve. Their sound may be a mix of many styles, but it seems that blending of musical genres actually creates a more interesting sound than usually found in most music. It could be that changing the lead vocalist on some songs makes their music hard to identify by a singular leader, but in reality the ability to retain the same musical quality and sound in spite of a different vocalist only makes them that much more spectacular of a band, in my opinion.
I have remained a faithful supporter and constant listener to the music of King's X. I still don't understand why they receive so little appreciation for their music, but after reading reviews and information about them, I can see that those who love them, love them hard! They deserve praise and appreciation for their amazing talent, and I am hopeful that before they are gone from the music industry, they gain the respect they so well deserve!
Check them out on YouTube, see if you like their sound. If so, I encourage you to spread the word on this fantastic band, buy their albums, and support their future in the music industry.