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KING'S X Three Sides Of One

By Terry Martinson, Contributor
Wednesday, September 7, 2022 @ 9:05 AM

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Three Sides Of One

Century Media/Inside Out Music

Warning: What follows will go down in infamy as the saddest review I have ever penned. You have been warned.

Hip hip hooray! A shiny new KING'S X record! After 14 long, tedious, tumultuous years. Not since 2008’s XV have we had new tunage from “the” power trio that started their musical life in Missouri as THE EDGE, and later SNEAK PEAK, then making the trek to Texas and rebranding as the band currently known as KING'S X and they have been littering our collective consciousness with earworm after earworm after earworm. Three Sides of One is the latest album's title and it is lucky album number 13, studio recordings that is (19 total if you factor in the live and best of’s) in what can only be referred to as an illustrious and let’s be honest, a downright epic discography that spans over 35 years! I know, right? The same guys, Doug “dUg” Pinnick, Jerry Gaskill and Ty Tabor have been together (and apart) making collectively and arguably some of the most impactful music in the hard rock genre. Wow, right? Musical careers and a collaboration longer than 98% of all marriages and most of the Marvel movies combined.

Now here is the rub I’m afraid and this circles back to my warning at the beginning: Three Sides of One isn’t a very good record. There I said it, sorry. Now before the flamefest commences (or continues) let me preface with a few caveats. Sure Three Sides of One is 1,000 times better than anything I have ever created and if this album wasn’t attached to arguably one of the most influential, impactful and all-encompassing bands ever than it could be considered passable, but, as a part of the KX legacy it just doesn’t resonate, at least for me.

Digging deeper it feels as if these may have been songs that didn’t cut bait for one of Ty’s solo records. Ty is singing lead herein on more than his fair share, again no rub and Ty and Jerry for that matter have swell voices, but like Jerry Cantrell, he should be relegated to nice harmonies and the occasional lead vocal.

The songs themselves are all over the place, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when the material is not your strongest, and the listener can’t put their finger on where you're going, that just exacerbates the flaws. The record starts, seemingly strong with a mid-tempo rock n' roll number entitled “Let It Rain”. Wherein dUg’s voice is as strong as ever and he is wailing about letting it rain and the listener is getting psyched up for what is to come, cuz if this is the foundation, the only logical trajectory is up, right? The faux backward solo and gang vocals chanting “Everybody” are nice touches to an almost later in life KING'S X sounding song. “Flood Pt. 1” follows, a drop-tuned SOUNDGARDEN sounding number with the inclusion of some strings through the choral arranged verse vocal, which flies close to a Faith, Hope, Love era’d harmony, if not a tick detuned (flat) and then we zip into a “Load Love” inspired bridge. At 3 minutes you're in and out before you register if it's a keeper or not (more on that in a bit).

“Nothing But The Truth” is a winner through and through. This is what even the passing fan would say, "hey is that KING'S X?” The song is a cigarette lighter ballad with dUg singing what's left of his ass off. The layered harmonies in the chorus and the apropo ding-ding-ding guitar trill pair really well with the overarching feel of the song. The song could’ve, should’ve, would’ve stopped at 3:45 and would have been just fine, but nope it gets a bit jammy. Sure Ty is a metal god, and the “Wooh ooh ahhhh’s are sweet, but the last 2:00 minutes seem forced and truth be told, could have been cut in half and wedged in the middle and the song could have chorused out and it would have worked better. “Give It Up” is a ZZ TOP mashup, think “La Grange” meets “Heard It On The X” with 2 heaping spoonfuls of “Just Got Paid”. It rocks and the low fi 70’s vibe works well on this one.

“All God’s Children” follows and it is a surreal rumbling, tumbling, yet mostly fumbling Ty-sung number that starts the spiral away from what is considered KING'S X. Sure Ty is 1/3 of KX and the harmonies and dUg’s rumbling bass are present, but the whole song misses and detracts from the first 4 songs that although not perfect, at least were staying the KX course. Not a fan and definitely should have been relegated to a KX side project. “Take The Time” doesn’t stray from what was just presented with “All God’s Children”, another slow tempo’d non-dUg sung number that although is crafted seemingly well, falls flat and again easily could have, should have, would been better suited for a side effort or double-timed and put on the new ENUFF Z'NUFF record? “Festival” musically sounds nice, the harmonies are present, but again another song where dUg is not singing lead (even though he does the back talk vocal). An OK song, but not to the KX standard I’m afraid.

At this point the listener begins to wonder what's happening? Was this meant to be a KING'S X EP and to pad the run time the label tossed some Ty Tabor b-sides from his latest solo effort on the end? “Swipe Up” is as close, another that misses even though it gets us some more leads from dUg it feels like a dUg and AIC or MAD SEASON collab, super detuned (yes I know KX detunes, but this is more so and not to KX standards), with fair to midland harmonies, but almost a demo quality to this one. “Holidays” starts out promising with a proggy intro that falls into a funkified BEATLES rhythm, pre-chorus, chorus that would have benefitted again from the soulful throat of dUg. Not sure why KX insisted on steering away from dUg’s leads, but it is distracting and doesn’t work. “Holiday” is yet another miss and should be relegated to a deep, deep KX demo or again, a side project.

“Watcher” pops in with a solid heavy riff, with a nice walk and an encouraging old school KX jangle, but again in the verse we fall into a heavily choral-affected vocal, not dUg’s I’m afraid, that crashes the song and as it progresses through verse, chorus, solo (which is nice, even though the faux backmasking is becoming a bit played out at this point) we are treated to another solo project tune and not a KING'S X number. “She Called Me Home", if you look at it from across the street and didn’t touch the “ahhhhhh’s” and of course included dUg’s soulful voice in the lead would be a typical slow tempo’d KING'S X song, but I am afraid I can’t hear any dUg herein and again the uber processed and effect laden lead lends itself to a demo quality number and a number that would be better suited on a side project. A miss but could have been if only. “Every Everywhere” is just a mess. Not sure what the thought was on this. The drums almost sound machined and the intro and verse bits sound like a GAP commercial. And again we are treated to a non-dUg lead vocal so drowned in effects it really is offputting. Then as some aside there appears to be an almost click track of dUg singing in a plastic trash can, the chorus call back, what the what? Again another demo quality miss, that should be on a side project or not at all. And that’s the album closer…

So...If you're looking for anything remotely KING'S X and I am meaning in any form, Three Sides of One will be very disappointing, OVERALL. Now if you take the first 4 tracks, “Let It Rain", "Flood Pt 1", "Nothing But The Truth" and "Give It Up”, call it an EP and reset your mind to say hey this is KING'S X’s 13th album in over a 35 year career. The musicians have been through the life ringer and are stepping out the other side. They are consummate road warriors and they are in their respective golden (almost for some) years, so these 4 songs are an absolute blessing to have from our favorite band. Then yes, go get Three Sides and spin tracks 1-4 and avoid the back 8 and you will be tickled pink. Being a KING'S X fanboy as I lead with this review saddens me. I have seen this band live more times than I can count and they are the most gracious musicians on planet earth, but I have to wonder what the story may be as to why the album veered so far off the course of a “standard” KING'S X record? Why’d dUg only sing a quarter of the songs? Is all well? Maybe we will learn more someday, but until then proceed with caution.

2.5 Out Of 5.0


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