Not too many people know that King's X, before cutting their first album ("Out of the Silent Planet", 1988), had already been making music for close to a decade. Even after 18 years, the band have successfully failed to break through to major audiences. This was probablue due to King's X striving hard to make unconventional music, music they themselves wanted to make. After having switched from Atlantic to Metal Blade the band laid down the tracks for their 7th album, "Tape Head".

Unfortunately I am quite unfamiliar with King'x X earlier material, but apart from the final track - the 'live' "Walter Bela Farkas (Live Peace in New York)" - "Tape Head" is filled with catchy, well-composed, good songs. Unconventional? Well, if it means that you actually know how to tune your guitar, yes, King's X is perhaps unconventional. If it means they're not five dreamy-eyed, handsome-looking boys in sneakers who sing in falsetto voices, yes, then perhaps you're right. If 'unconventional' means that, in fact, the King's X people are actually talented, sure, then they certainly are. The music as such, however, is just plain good. I heard elements of Live (the band), even of Zakk Wylde (as on his solo CD, "Book of Shadows"). Some of the tunes are quite groovy (the aptly titled "Groove Machine"), some are beautiful (the ballad "Over and Over"), some are up-tempo rockers ("World") and others are cool songs that you are tempted to sing along to ("Cupid", "Ono" and "Little Bit of Soul", for example).

In this day and age, where music has to satisfy a kind of instant gratification, people either have to like it within a child's attention span or will simply lose interest. Not until after several listens did "Tape Head" actually begin to grow on me; this lack of instant gratification will no doubt successfully keep King's X from breaking through to major audiences once more. I don't think they really care, nor do their fans. I hope Metal Blade doesn't either.

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Written October 1998


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