by King’s X

OK, it’s official: this is King’s X’s best album since Tape Head. There isn’t a weird format to get used to, like on Mr. Bulbous. There isn’t any experimentation with loops like on Manic Moonlight (a disc I dig occasionally). And there isn’t a long, wandering song like “Johnny” on Black Like Sunday (a disc I really dig, but skip around a bit on).

But, what is on Ogre Tones, you might be asking? First of all, awesome sound; this album is loud and proud, but it doesn’t clip and breathes nicely. I noticed its ReplayGain values were in the -7dB range, whereas an album like American Idiot is around -10dB. Without getting any more technical, let’s just say that there’s a good amount of depth in the sound. This really lets the music shine. Thank you, Michael Wagener.

Sonic highlights for me are Ty Tabor’s acoustic guitar on “Honesty”, Doug Pinnick’s “classic” vocals on “Bebop” (his screams are as trademark and recognizable as David Lee Roth’s, although I wouldn’t compare the two further), and Jerry Gaskill’s precision drumming on “Goldilox (Reprise)” (note the light roll right before the beginning of the verses). “Goldilox” (from their first album, Out Of The Silent Planet) is one of my all-time favorite King’s X tunes (and probably one of the only ones Melissa knows by name), so it was a special treat to hear it done in the current KX sound. It’s been dropped down a tone or two from standard tuning, similar to most of their other current stuff. The song wasn’t rearranged, but the vocal parts are clearer than the original, and Ty’s solo features wah-wah.

It’s really hard to pick other favorites at this point; the album flows very well is only 52 minutes long. The guitar solo on “Sooner Or Later” is not a typical Ty solo; he lays it on thick and it sounds great. The first single, “Alone”, is KX at their tightest, and features the Doug/Ty vocal tradeoffs that are getting rarer and rarer. The second track, “Stay”, features a very hooky chorus (“stay with me/only if you want me to/stay with me/only if you need me too…”). I really dig the main guitar riff on “Fly”. “Open My Eyes” sounds like it could have been on Faith Hope Love, which was my first and still-favorite KX record. “Freedom” (a b-side from Ear Candy) has the relevant lyric “freedom/to get elected and set my own salary”. And “Bam” ends the record in trademark quirky KX way.

Ogre Tones is highly recommended. Easily one of my top 3 new releases this year. Offhand, I can only rank Deadwing higher, but it’s had quite a while to grow on me. 😉