God Listens But He don't buy records.

Perpetual celestial boys King's X give anger a chance.

The band spent six weeks over the past summer holed up in Atlanta recording the album -- its first done outside Houston. "It was a lot of fun," says Gaskill. "It was very pressureless. We were really in tune with each other."

Recording Dogman may have been free of tension, but there is pressure for the album to sell.

"I think that there's pressure amongst everyone but the three of us," says Pinnick. "You know -- Atlantic and management. All of 'em. They're psycho almost, trying to make this work. It's scary watching this machine work. I didn't know people had this much drive. You know, for us, if it doesn't work -- we're used to that. If it does, great. And if we lose the record deal because this record is a flop or something, we'll take it from there."

But what about all those Christian followers who have floated the band through mostly lean times? Has King's X, with an uncharacteristically angry album, abandoned its spiritual ideals and its spiritual audience?

Tabor maintains that the new album still has spiritual undertones, and that "knowing us, that will always be there." The title of Dogman has its own spiritual association -- raising questions of servant and master -- but in a far more subtle presentation than in the past.

So, with a shifting of spiritual gears and a hint of commerciality in the air, King's X unleashes Dogman. So far, so good. The first single (the title track) entered the charts as the second-highest add at album-oriented radio -- just a facial hair behind new product from that other Houston band, ZZ Top. With an upcoming national tour slated to bring the band through Houston sometime in late February (as opening act for the Scorpions), the band is ripe and ready to move from Next Big Thing status to, simply, Big Thing. And if King's X manages, finally, to make the leap, it's a safe bet that someone -- either in the band or at Atlantic's corporate headquarters -- will be thanking God.

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