HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

King's X - Black Like Sunday
(Metal Blade)

Black Like Sunday finds King's X reaching back into their bulging bag of "thousands" of unused songs (I think that's seen a little self-propelled exaggeration over the years - I'm sure it's in the low hundreds, max), specifically compositions from before the debut album. Thenceforth the band re-recorded them, surprisingly tweaking little in terms of the music or the lyrics. And man, it simply rules, because what you get is King's X as metalized riff rockers, with an engaging naiveté icing the cake, a heartening quality that comes with the odd new wavey bits, reggae bits, power ballady bits, lyrics about making it someday, and song structures conventional and simply charming. Amusing calendar concept to the booklet, but I would have preferred the lyrics - not that you can't hear them clearly, both the words and the messages. What falls out, damn near ecstatically, is a small jewel box of some of the band's coolest anthems, songs like Working Man, the title track and the Poundhound-like Two demonstrating the band's song prowess in a number of directions (like we didn't bloody know by now). Damn... I gotta go 8 on this, given that there's a handful of uneasily off-base tracks, but fact is, I've played Black Like Sunday more than any record in the last two months, beginning with the half-album advance, and now the full eminently pleasurable history lesson.
Rating 8

The Hidden Hand - Divine Propaganda

Still crawling doom fossil Wino has dissolved Spirit Caravan, hooked up with a couple of unknowns and launched yet another really cool stoner rock band. Only The Hidden Hand is an impressive, unified package right through graphic concept, lyric and sound. The album is almost about too many things to support the spin, but central is the conspiratorial concept of hidden hands pulling our strings. The greys (in many shades) and foil-stamped silvers support the smoky, filmy, surging, billowing music enclosed, this band fusing dreamy melodies with blobulous production values and ubiquitous guitar that overwhelms, buries, the vocals. Great tones, great grooves, very good songs, meaning that this is no reinvention, but more of a refinement.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 3