Today I’m going to try a little experiment. I’m going to invert all my inverted crosses, take a break from giving birth to Beelzebub and talk about an album with Christian subtones that I dig. Don’t worry, this won’t be a regular thing. There’s only one.
King’s X are something of an oddity. Prog-rock bands are known for their odes to faith about as often as Christian rock bands are known for being…well…good. So not a lot then. But what could have been a weakness for the band, making it difficult for them to be taken seriously as musicians, was simultaneously a strength. King’s X sounded like nobody else on the planet, and their uniqueness helped them to rise above the prog-rock masses (as much as prog bands like to think of themselves as unique, such a thing does indeed exist). The intersection of instrumental complexity with Doug Pinnick’s soulful, lush gospel-influenced vocals has an ethereal effect, making for a sort of prog version of easy listening, if easy listening had soul and credibility. But for all their musical accomplishment, if the lyrics followed the all-too-common Christian rock methodology of using that music the kids are down with as an indoctrination tool, King’s X CDs would be nothing more to me than shiny frisbees. Here too they distinguished themselves, with a disarming lyrical honesty. They were upfront about their doubts and unafraid to explore their emotions from a more humanistic perspective, making them relatable instead of preachy. This makes their music much easier to enjoy and absorb. They’re musing, not teaching and it makes all the difference in the world.
Nowadays, Doug Pinnick, the group’s vocalist, identifies as agnostic, and in 1998 he came out as gay. I like to think that a lot of the doubts he had when recording “Gretchen Goes To Nebraska”, the band’s Magnum Opus, have been laid to rest, and that the man who gave us the sweet melancholic vocals on “Summerland” has found something as close to a happy ending as one can experience in this chaotic flawed world. For bearing his soul to all who cared to listen he deserves that much. My favorite King’s X song, Summerland, is posted below. You can find more of their music on the band’s iTunes.