King's X - Xv
King's X are one of the longest-running and most successful American rock bands around today. Their 3-piece progressive sound that blends rock, funk, jazz, blues, metal, grunge and pop has always been a work in progress. XV is not just a play on the band's name: this is their FIFTEENTH album! So you just know they've been doing something right. On this album, the band experiences something of a rebirth of inspiration and of impact, providing a lengthy (perhaps too much so) dose of lyrically expressive and creative hard rock. The only thing that bogs the album down is the dragging on of the latter 1/4 or so.
They sound, to me, like a cross breeding of Pain of Salvation, the 3-piece dynamic of a Rush, and Dream Theater when they're not masturbating via musical instruments. " Pray" is a decent opener but it's the catchy hooks on "Blue" and the bittersweet words and melodies of "Repeating Myself" that stick out throughout the first half of the album. Songs like "Alright" and "Free" kinda come off as Faith No More outtakes; full of arena-rock swagger and heavy bass-centric grooves. The latter half of the album is a drag, only because this music, while rather creative and totally enjoyable, tends to get old after 40 minutes of songs or so. That the album runs nearly an hour isn't a huge problem, but I don't think anyone outside of big King's X fans will have their attention kept past track 10. That could just be me, like usual.
For such an experienced band, XV sounds like some bands' sophomore efforts, full of energy and inspiration. The band has stated that it took a new approach to writing the record, spending more time on that pivotal process and less time filling in gaps in the studio, prefering to play most of the material live and together. It shows in the music's honesty and integrity, both of which are unquestionable. For rock fans far and wide unfamiliar, there may be better albums in their past but for the newest (and a pretty damn good) product, I can definitely recommmend XV. Just don't expect prog snobbery or anything of that sort, these guys are progressive by way of their varied songwriting styles, not because they can shred the skin off of their fingers.
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