Anyone who knows anything about King's X knows about how criminally underrated they are. Prog-rock riffing with Beatle-esque harmonies, a wonderfully emotive soul-singing frontman and perhaps the most melodically gifted guitar player in the world, all neatly wrapped in a power-trio package renowned for the excellence of their live shows sound interesting at all? King's X is the band for you.
Dogman is probably the closest that King's X came to having a hit CD seeing how it was released around the time of their now-legendary performance at Woodstock '94 where they blew practically everyone else off the stage. Of course, every band that has ever played with them will tell you that King's X constantly obliterated them, but Woodstock was easily the biggest audience they ever had while doing it, and this led to a short lived spurt of popularity for them. However, Dogman was, at the time anyway, a rather atypical record for King's X.
For one thing, it is not a happy record at all. Just take a look at the song titles; "Black The Sky", "Fool You", "Go To Hell" and so on. They even choose to cover Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression". It's hard to imagine that this is the band that just a few years earlier had released an album called Faith, Hope, Love with pretty much the entire record dedicated to those values. Maybe it had something to do with vocalist Doug Pinnick's coming out of the closet and his associated renunciation of Christianity, or their less than amicable split with their long-time manager. Whatever the case may be, King's X were not in a happy place when they wrote these songs.
The music itself is much darker than on previous albums. The prevailing moods in the music appear to be anger and melancholy. It's hard to ignore that this is, for lack of a better comparison, a grunge album. Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise because Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam's bassist, has reputedly stated that King's X were the forefathers of grunge and their previous albums never had a shortage of heaviness. That heaviness was always counteracted by the upbeat vocal melodies and harmonies though. Not this time. Even the production is much more raw than on previous albums. The title track and "Pretend" would fit perfectly on a playlist next to Alice In Chains, while "Go To Hell" is jarring in that's it's a completely unexpected, minute-long slice of punk riffs and vocals. "Complain" is close to punk in it's raw pissed off-ness, but the band still incorporates their harmonies making it much more palateable. The band also shows a greater willingness to incorporate their groovy and funky influences as on "Shoes", "Black The Sky" and "Don't Care" where the riffs are more percussive than angular.
The album grows a bit stale in its second half which isn't as strong as the first half, except for "Complain". Also, there is less diversity and therefore interestingness in the band's sound. Doug sings lead vocals on every song the harmonies are downplayed quite a bit compared to the band's other albums. However, the album is still a gem of heavy melodic rock especially if you're into grunge and/or progressive rock.