When hard rocking Texas trio King’s X release an album, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. While it may be a little different than last time, you’re still going to get a hard rocking, groove oriented disc with a few ballads tossed in for good measure. Their latest release XV is no exception to the niche the band has carved for themselves. While constantly being ignored by the general public, King’s X has somehow managed to stay true to themselves and satisfy their hardcore fans who flock to see them in concert. With producer Michael Wagner back at the helm, XV sees a better production than the band’s stint on the Metal Blade label.
The biggest difference between XV and their last release Ogre Tones is the message in the lyrics. While Ogre Tones sonically sounded very similar to this new disc, it was a much more depressing affair. With the exception of a few tracks, it now seems like the band is coming to terms with situations and dealing with them. This is evident in “I Just Want To Live” where guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor declares, “I’m stepping outside again / I’m afraid but it’s wonderful.” This theme is furthered in “Alright” when bassist/vocalist Dug Pinnick screams “One day it’s gonna be alright.” From the emotional delivery, you can believe it.
Just like Ogre Tones before it, the main drawback on XV is the lack of guitar solos from virtuoso Tabor. Some of these tracks are just begging for one of his patented volume swelling solos. They rarely come. In fact, there’s only a couple on a disc with 14 tracks. The band has also strayed a bit on their delivery of the background vocals. Instead of the intricate harmonies to which we’ve grown accustomed to, most of the songs have the gang vocal approach.
For fans of the band, XV is one more chapter in the band’s growth. While it’s less like their early Atlantic days, it’s also progressed from the Metal Blade days into something entirely different but at the same time familiar. While it may not gain too many new fans, XV is one more solid release from a band known for solid releases and incredible musicianship. This disc has the added bonus of lead vocals by drummer Jerry Gaskill for the first time since 1996’s Ear Candy.