Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be stranded on a remote island in the Pacific or Caribbean? With only rum and coconuts to survive? And lets say that you’re stranded with a sound system and you only have one album to listen to for the rest of your life. Or at least until help comes in a few weeks. So what would it be? I simply can’t choose one album so I’ve decided to make a segment out of it: ‘Stranded Desert Island Albums.’ And this weeks entry is a record so good that it just can’t be good for you, but it still is. One of the most unique, strong and heavy records to be released: King’s X’s ‘Dogman’.
So what constitutes a stranded desert island album? First off it has to be a straight down record. Every track is strong from the top to the bottom. With very few exceptions. It has to have some form of diversity in the way the songs are written. There has to be a growth with the record. Something new is discovered each time you listen. And it obviously has to be something that sticks with you for a prolonged period.
So this weeks entry is King’s X’s ‘Dogman’. For those of you who don’t know the band well or have never heard of them, I’m jealous. Because discovering this band is really an experience. A power trio to end all power trio’s. And on ‘Dogman’ King’s X delivers just that. Starting with the opening title track. You’re instantly pummeled with bass and some phat ass drumming! Then guitarist Ty Tabor comes in with his 100 megaton tone that peels the paint off of the walls. And it’s just getting started.
The album moves into ‘Shoes’. A track that opens with the band a Capella doing their signature, unreal, vocal harmonies. And I’m pretty sure the harmony is augmented, which is super insane for any rock band to attempt. Then it moves into the sludgiest, most muddy guitar chug. Think Alice in Chains but a little heavier. The breakdown at the end is fantastic. Then we get ‘Pretend’ which is a very catchy mid tempo rocker that has major radio appeal. Making it hard to understand why this band never achieved household name status. Following ‘Pretend’ is the first ballad. The psychedelic ‘Flies and Blue Skies’, which the band has been playing in their set recently. The song really shows how the band can communicate as one unit flawlessly.
Then we move into a song that I can listen to over and over again: ‘Black the Sky’. It’s one of the greatest riffs ever written. EVER! You want to talk about a band that has touch and feel. Look no further than this band and this song for the example. Plus the breakdown at the end is pummeling. The next track ‘Fool You’ should have been released as a single. It has major major hit potential. With excellent melodies and a swirling vocal harmony bridge that raises hairs. And personal lyrics. King’s X is strongest when they get personal. Up next is ‘Don’t Care’. A song that rivals ‘Black the Sky’ in excellence. What this song does better than any other is display how heavy the band can sound instrumentally while mixing in their trademark vocal harmonies. The harmony lead into the breakdown is simply stunning. I’ve never heard a band so in tune with melodic harmonies that sounded so heavy instrumentally. It’s mind blowing. Then back to ballad land with ‘Sunshine Rain’. Another song with huge radio hit traits and potential. Then the semi-punk like track ‘Complain’ enters. It’s a great change of pace. A shorter, less progressive and more direct track. But it’s still the realm of what band was trying to achieve with the album. Which is a more groove, mid tempo heavy metal record.
What’s probably the most unusual song on the album is next. ‘Human Behavior’ is a sarcastic, dissonant track that calls out the follies of man. Think satire in music without the comedic element. The dissonant chords and harmonies set the mood perfectly for the lyrics. Following is ‘Cigarettes’ which is certainly one of the most emotional songs King’s X has ever done. And that’s saying a lot. It’s a huge hit within the heavy music community. Still playing it live to this day. And allowing quite a bit of audience participation. Because everyone knows the lyrics. Plus, when they do the song live they extend out the jam into this otherworldly dimension. All while just being three guys who are playing their instruments like there’s no tomorrow. It’s quite an experience. ‘Go to Hell’ is a quick punk track that shows the diversity of the group. A 52 second blow out. Then the final track ‘Pillow’ arrives. A vulnerable, honest track that hits the sweet spot with its chugging, mid tempo nature. A very very strong way to end an album. Sometimes bands let the final few songs sort of drift off in quality. Not these guys. Quality all the way through.
‘Dogman’ has everything that a stranded desert island record needs. Originality, strength from top to bottom and some songs that are so good you have to listen to them over and over again. If you don’t know this band, this album is a great place to start. What are some of your favorite records? Any stranded desert island quality choices?
Crazy vocal harmonies. And that chug!
One of greatest riffs ever written.
The rival track.
And the strong album closer.