The band that everybody loves but nobody buys has (finally) put out a new slab of their unique blend of rock, funk, metal, soul, gospel goodness. And they have defied the odds. It’s been 14 long years since we had a new record from King’s X, and in their well-worn history they’ve had quite possibly the worst series of bad breaks of any band in the industry.
The list of health problems alone makes it a pretty remarkable feat that we have new music from dUg Pinnick, Jerry Gaskill and Ty Tabor. Recent European tour dates have been postponed over an announcement that Tabor has been diagnosed with a serious illness. That sounds terrible. But these guys have risen from the ashes before, surviving multiple heart attacks, surgeries and other mental and physical health challenges.
The road has been hard, and as so many would attest, they really should be a much bigger band than they are. So many “shoulda”—“woulda” “couldas”. But in the end, they’ve stayed true to the magical musical chemistry that the trio have created, and the new record is a fantastic example of how they do what they do–and why, God willing, they will keep on doing it.
In the early days, King’s X was saddled with a perception that they were a Christian rock band. They sprinkled in faith-flirting lyrics and imagery on the early classic albums that made a hard- rocking, Bible-reading kid like me fascinated. Over the years, they’ve expressed some disdain for Christian music. And though their own beliefs have evolved, their remarkable sound has stayed pretty consistent. And that’s one of the wonderful things about this new album: it sounds like classic King’s X. Not old King’s X. Not tired King’s X. Not “phoning it in for one more album before collecting Social Security” King’s X. Just combustible, harmony-soaked sludgery that they can certainly call their own.
It starts with the opening moments of “Let It Rain,” where Ty’s jangling opening chords ring out, followed by Jerry’s precise pounding, and then a glorious entrance with Dug’s passionate and unpredictable vocals. The guys make a no-nonsense statement that they still can deliver the goods. By the time the chorus hits a little over one minute into the track, we are rocking good and hard. It’s both good and hard. And remarkably youthful sounding. How can it be that these guys are in their 60s and 70s and still sounding like kids? What’s that, a guitar solo played backwards? With psychedelic effects? What are we in a time warp? It seems so, but only in the best of ways possible.
This is the mystery of King’s X. They should be one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Don’t believe me? Go see them live. There’s nobody else like them. Somehow commercial success has eluded them, and yet somehow they keep coming back for more, even after some very long hiatuses. I’m not saying they’re perfect. There have been lazy records that seemed to fall short of their potential, but let the record state that for “Three Sides of One,” they put in a strong effort. And one that, if it’s the final chapter of their recorded history, is one of the good ones.
“Flood Part 1” hits us with some floating strings, followed by some distorted/raging dUg screams, followed by some killer riffing from Ty. And then suddenly, we are shoved into an easy listening verse with Beatles-like harmonies that are the signature King’s X sound. But just as you’re getting comfortable, the heavy sludgery returns. It may be an interesting statement that perhaps it’s time for another Noah’s Ark-type flood to wipe out how messed up we’ve become. Like some older classic King’s X, there’s a bit of a Bible story reference but let’s be perfectly clear, the boys these days feel a lot more disillusion than faith–and that’s fair. We are each on our own journey that sometimes goes places we didn’t plan.
Then comes “Nothing But the Truth,” which also has many of the hallmarks of classic King’s X: a soulful, gospel-like build up to a gloriously lonely guitar solo supported by heavenly “woo hoos” and “aaaahhh” in background vocals. Ty takes plenty of bars to just go off and this song has got to be amazing when played live. dUg’s vocals are not like your typical hard rock or metal band, and that’s quite frankly a blessing. He blends so many different styles and bleeds pain and emotion in his deliveries, all while rumbling like the devil (not literally, people) with his filthy bass. This song’s a burner that grows with every listen.
“Give It Up” will get you jumping on your feet. Ty’s riff is a bopper, and the harmonies in the vocals offset the rocking drums and string to be an anthem. Fists in the air, “Give it up! Give it up!” Again, this is a song that can only rise higher in a live setting. We’re four songs in and all four would be on my King’s X best playlist.
This brings us to “All God’s Children.” I don’t have the lyrics to analyze, but it could be a disturbing portrait of how members of a cult blindly followed their leaders and kept following. I’d like to believe that’s what it’s about. But I suspect it’s probably more of a commentary on the Christian or Catholic church as a whole, which has its share of sins to atone for when it has failed to confront the evil that some of their leaders have succumbed to. It’s fair to call out failure and question why we keep believing when there seems to be reason to doubt. It’s ugly. But some things that don’t deserve to stay hidden. If King’s X wasn’t already long banned from Christian bookstores, this track would surely do the trick.
“Take the Time” is a dreamy tune featuring Jerry’s lead vocal, which has its own quirky timbre. To be truthful, all three of the guys in the band have very unique vocals, but they combine to something that’s even bigger than the sum of the parts. This laid-back track is a calm before the storm of what’s coming. “Festival” might be a punky, pointing finger expose’ on the Firefest disaster or some other event where promoters cared more about money than safety. “Let’s throw a festival…What’s the worst maybe somebody dies.” Ty’s solo soars over the rocking bed and his guitar tone reaches back to that classic vibe of “Gretchen Goes to Nebraska.” It’s a fun, fast tune with some exceptional guitar sonic qualities.
“Swipe Up” is another heavy grower, a bit like “Flood Pt. 1” with some less accessible vocal sections that juxtapose shimmering harmonies with brooding riffage. It might be one of my lesser favorite moments on the album, but it’s certainly no slouch.
Just when you think you know what you’re getting from this record, “Holidays” busts on to the scene with a fat snare sound out of the 70s. There are more eccentric vocals from Jerry, backed by an infectious, shiny chorus. Once again, it’s the voices of all three that make up this magical stew. This one’s a bit odd but has some charm to it anyway. “Watcher” kicks in, sounding like something that could have easily been on one of the first four classic King’s X records. Ty’s tone is sublime again, and he takes a lead vocal to lend that unique balance of sounds that avoids an overt sense of sameness from one song to other. dUg’s a great singer, and sometimes he does some of his best work playing background vocalist.
Jerry pounds the opening beats of “She Called Me Home” and takes the lead vocal, backed by harmonies that float on the bed of a smooth-running stream. It glides to a stand-still, only to be splashed violently by Ty’s wailing solo. It’s kind of two different songs smashed together, but it works. Wrapping up the record is “Every Everywhere,” which is a showcase of their unique vocal harmonies again, with a building chorus that brings the beauty of the King’s X choir to an abrupt end.
The marvel of the “Three Sides of One” is you get the three unique voices and playing that converge into one glorious sound. They’re different but the same. Kinda like the Holy Trinity. It’s mysterious, it’s magical. And the band is somehow still with us despite coming through many trials, tribulation and tears. Welcome back, King’s X. We’ve missed you, and you are most welcome in my fellowship of good listening.
Released By: Inside Out Music
Released On: September 2nd, 2022
Genre: Hard Rock | Progressive Rock
- dUg Pinnick / Vocals, bass
- Ty Tabor/ Guitars, vocals
- Jerry Gaskill / Drums
“Three Sides Of One” track listing:
1. Let It Rain (04:28)
2. Flood Pt. 1 (03:03)
3. Nothing But The Truth (06:03
4. Give It Up (02:59
5. All God’s Children (05:32)
6. Take The Time (03:45)
7. Festival (03:30)
8. Swipe Up (03:46)
9. Holidays (03:22)
10. Watcher (03:43)
11. She Called Me Home (03:57)
12. Every Everywhere (02:40)
After a painfully long hiatus, King’s X return, revisiting their unique sound and producing one of the best records they’ve made in a long time. While it feels like this might be their last, I certainly hope it’s not