Perhaps more than ever in their lengthy career, King's X have embraced their heavy metal roots on their 11th studio album, 2005's Ogre Tones. While the riffs are mighty and quite a few screamed vocals can be detected, the most telling sign of all is that the group enlisted renowned '80s metal producer Michael Wagener (who has worked with Accept, Metallica, Dokken, etc.) to oversee the sessions. Early in their career -- especially on albums like 1989's Gretchen Goes to Nebraska -- it appeared as though King's X were all about succinct and snappy songs. But as their career carried on, the group seemed to embrace its artier side, as new King's X releases needed several spins to fully register. This remains true with Ogre Tones. While there are a few catchy tunes -- especially the album opener, "Alone" -- for the most part, riffs 'n' ranting play a prominent role here. King's X have a lot on their mind about the current state of the world, and they certainly don't hold back -- letting it all spill out on tunes like "Freedom" and "Get Away." Additionally, not all of the tracks hit the mark, especially the lyrics to "Bebop" (which quotes the famous line from "Tutti Frutti" -- "a wop bop a lu bop a wop bam boo"). While it may not be Gretchen, Pt. 2, there are a few leftover elements from the past -- the Beatlesque vocal harmonies in the chorus of "Fly," and the long and winding Ty Tabor guitar solo in "Sooner or Later" (which brings to mind "The Burning Down" from the aforementioned Gretchen).
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato