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King's X has never, hell, I mean never been concerned with what anyone thinks of them. While other bands worried about their image, King's X focused on doing their music, their way. Lyrically and sonically, the only constant in the band's career is that the words and notes they put forth are always a reflection of who they are at that moment in time, with full acknowledgement that they'll be somewhere else by the next album.
With that in mind, Black Like Sunday makes a lot of sense, despite being a bizarre choice of project: a collection of early 80's songs the band had written back when they were starting out, young, naive, and learning their chops. The songs are predictably rough in their construction and silly in their lyrics- the reflection of where the band was decades before. Why King's X would find this sub-par material worthy of revisiting now, I can't begin to guess. It's one thing to sit around the living room playing some fun tunes from the good ol' days with your friends; it's quite another to book a studio and release them as a proper album.
But that's exactly what's on this record- a treat for hardcore fans, and probably a waste of time for everyone else. King's X has admirably- or foolishly- chosen to alter nothing in these nostalgic reconstructions. The same dopey 80's-rock guitar riffs they came up with back in the day are the ones they employ here, the result being an album where one of the most talented groups on the planet are playing some of the dopiest rock music they've ever done. Clearly, the whole thing is done with tongues firmly in cheeks, but still, it's puzzling. Fans would probably rather hear the actual original demos, which at least serve a historical purpose, and everyone else is just going to avoid this record altogether. If King's X doesn't usually float your boat, Black Like Sunday is certainly not going to get it sailing.
Once you come to terms with what this is, though, there's definitely some fun weirdness here, the kind that only comes out of the creative minds of energetic young amateurs who "don't know any better." While most of this stuff is basically 80's rock with little resemblance to King's X, there are flourishes and flashes of their unique greatness throughout. Dreams is probably the best track here, starting off with a riff that, with the benefit of hindsight, is clearly a detuned King's X forerunner. It's also a great little tune, which jumps from metal to reggae effortlessly- a true example of the talent that lay beneath. Screamer, with its middle-eastern minor-key vibe, is also an interesting foray into the darker territory that the band would revisit with more maturity on Dogman. Apparently, Down and Two are actually genuine King's X tunes that have been floating around (the other songs predate the "King's X" monicker) and they sound it- though neither is that great.
The album alternates between the quirky and the mundane throughout, leaving you scratching your head as to why the boys chose what they chose. You're The Only One- a cute, innocent number- sounds just as cheesy as the demo they recorded decades ago under the name "Sneak Preview", but I'm sure that's on purpose. Danger Zone might be pretty generic, but its "no-one-understands-me" teenage-rebellion lyrics are right in line with the band's heart-on-sleeve style- but coming from a teenager's point of view, it's not really going to compete with the material they've been producing this century.
Whether or not King's X thought about what value these songs might hold for everyone else, who knows- but they're clearly having fun here revisiting memory lane, and the album cover- an amateurish fan contribution chosen in a contest- seems to indicate they want us all to join the party.