King’s X – Three Sides of One Review

2022 seems to be a year for bands I was a fan of in their heyday to reunite. A couple months ago we saw the release of the not-amazing-but-not-embarrassing new album from Porcupine Tree, Closure/Continuation. Back in January Jethro Tull released their first album in 19 years 1. Now this week we see a new album from the venerable melodic prog rockers King’s X. Three Sides of One is the band’s 13th album, and first since 2008’s XV. The trio have a combined age of 195, which is almost the same as Steel and I. That’s old, but age doesn’t bestow nor hinder success; songwriting does. Can Dug Pinnick, Ty Tabor, and Jerry Gaskill still write some great material?

If I was forced to use one word to describe Three Sides of One, it would be odd. Nowhere is this more evident than on “Flood Pt. 1.”2 It opens with cheesy orchestral hits and manic screams before a thick, nasty riff destroys us. Then the verses come, highlighted by strings and sweet vocal harmonies. Back and forth we go between the two extremes for three minutes in disorienting fashion. No other songs are that schizophrenic, but the album as a whole is. It feels like the band has tried to write material that encompasses everything, but in doing so they haven’t excelled at any one facet.

In fact, the highlight of Three Sides of One has to be Ty Tabor’s work. After a month of listening, I struggle to find fault in anything he’s laid down here, whether it’s laid-back melodies, discordant metal riffs, or his amazingly tasteful solos; both “Watcher” and “All God’s Children” are elevated a notch above forgettable with his impeccably arranged leads. Another of the band’s historically strong points is vocals, and that holds true throughout, whether it is Pinnick on his own or the excellent harmonies the three of them create. And despite the heavy mastering hand, the band sounds great instrumentally. Pinnick’s bass could be louder at times, but when it has that nasty growl (like “Let it Rain”) it’s a thing of beauty. And of course Gaskill crushes it on the drums. These guys have been playing together for more than four decades, and despite the uneven songwriting it shows.

“Take the Time” is a sweet little acoustic number, featuring the band’s trademark amazing vocal harmonies paired with a melody that possesses Steven Wilson-like pop sensibilities. Back to the one-word description idea: harmless. Sticking with the mellow vibe, “Holidays” and “Every Everywhere” both have a bit of The Beatles influence buoying them up. The band get heavier on occasion, with opener “Let it Rain” and “Give it Up” both bringing some solid hard rock to the mix. “Festival” does as well, but (going back to one word) it’s a dumb song. The silly lyrics and raw vibe make it seem like a throwaway track that was added to lengthen the album. Elsewhere, “Nothing but the Truth” is a soulful ballad that, at over six minutes, drags a bit but is saved by an outstanding Ty Tabor solo.

The hallmarks of King’s X are here: the mix of metal, prog, soul, and lyrical spirituality, the sweet vocal harmonies, Pinnick’s grinding bass, Tabor’s excellent solos, and Gaskill’s laid-back groove. But the songwriting is too uneven to elevate Three Sides of One into the same realm as the band’s iconic releases of the 1990s. Much like Closure/Continuum, listening to this one made me go back and revisit my old King’s X albums rather than wanting to keep playing this newest release. That being said, there’s plenty to enjoy here, you’ll just have to dig around, and pick and choose, to find it all.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: InsideOut Music
Websites: |
Release Worldwide: September 2, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The Zealot Gene is actually really good
  2. There is no Part 2…
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