Retro-review: ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ by King’s X

King’s X 1988 debut album Out of the Silent Planet is a great first effort by a band that has been unfortunately overlooked the majority of their career.

Out of the Silent Planet is the first recording they made on Megaforce records following years of being signed to exclusively Christian music labels. While it didn’t make waves and didn’t make as much of an impact as its follow up album, Gretchen Goes To Nebraska, it is still held in high regard, being listed as one of Kerrang’s top 10 records of 1988 and being listed as one of the top 200 albums of the 1980s by Metal Hammer.

Despite their early reputation and the fact that the title is a line by C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent album doesn’t come off as an album geared toward Christians. There is no hellfire and brimstone nor anything resembling hymnal verses. Instead, the songs deal with personal battles and rather spirituality not geared toward any one god in particular.

The line up, which has never changed, is Doug Pinnick on bass, Jerry Gaskill on drums and Ty Tabor on guitar. All men are credited with lead and backing vocals.

At first, that may sound a little strange. Not many bands aside from Kiss have multiple vocalists. But King’s X is not like Kiss.

Pinnick is the lead vocalist for all intents and purposes. His voice is the most dominant on the album. But, Gaskill and Tabor join with him in harmony, making one voice out of three.

This harmonizing has become the staple to King’s X sound. Pinnick is powerful on his own, but when the three combine, the voices become huge, filling your ears with an ocean of sound. It works well and has influenced several other bands, who’ve taken the formula to varying degrees of success.

King’s X is still around. While never making it to the status of rock gods, they have managed to keep making music for more than 30 years. What is behind that staying power can be heard on this album.

The album

Out of the Silent Planet has quite a dramatic opening with “The New Age.” I’m not sure if its intro is inspired by science fiction or horror movie soundtracks, but it starts with that score-type sound, until King’s X brings the rock. It’s a good, mid-paced intro, that gives you a taste of the band’s heavy riffs, vocal harmonies and guitar melodies that come together as an impressive whole. It does the job that any lead in should do: It makes you want to hear more.

By the way, I ought to mention that this album sounds great. You hear and feel the bass drums and guitars. The instruments and the vocals are balanced. Nothing sounds like it is diminished to allow something else to shine.

Going against expectations, King’s X actually slows things down for the second song, “Goldilox.” It’s not exactly a rocker, being closer to a ballad. Pinnick’s performance carries this song. Singing the verses alone, the chorus just punches you in that good spot when the voices of the other members of the band kick in.

The pattern is similar with much of the album, but that’s not a bad thing. Whether the first real rocker “Power of Love” (which has an awesome guitar solo) or the equally rocking “What is This?,” it works and doesn’t get get tired. Much of this is thanks to the band being composed of people who know how to get the most out of their instruments and add those extra little bits of sound in places that other rock bands overlook.

King,” which has probably one of the better music videos of 1988, is probably the highpoint of the album. It kicks everything heard on the album up a notch. It catches you right away with its rhythm and melody and keeps you with its catchy chorus. Pinnick definitely shines on this one as well.

Standouts in the latter half of the album are “Far, Far Away” and “Visions.” “Visions” especially, since once again shows their talent for dropping those little somethings in a song to make them even more interesting and re-listenable.

The verdict

I’d definitely recommend giving Out of the Silent Planet a listen. The songs are all on Youtube, so it won’t cost you anything. After that, you can decide whether you want to pursue your own copy or not.

Out of the Silent is a good album and it makes the listener look forward to what they have to offer next, which is Gretchen Goes to Nebraska.

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