When three world-class musicians throw down and pool their resources together for a side project, it’s never a sure thing as to what the outcome will be. There are perhaps expectations of billion-notes-per-second shred, or even the glimmer of prog-leaning self-indulgence. KXM has none of these traits – maybe to the dismay of fans of each of the players involved. What the band does excel in, however, is big, wide-open grooves with a ton of ambience behind it.
In a word, it’s all about feel, feel, feel. The collective talents of ex-Dokken guitarist George Lynch, King’s X vocalist/bassist Dug Pinnick, and Korn drummer Ray Luzier ditch the frayed metallic edges and step into heady, seemingly uncharted rhythmic nirvana that should only serve to enhance their already A-list reputations.
From the trippy, almost tribal percussion that opens lead track “Stars,” the guys embrace a masking of humdrum 4/4 timing with snotty, modal guitar passages and soulfully ravaged melodies. Tracks like “Rescue Me” are more indicative of Luzier’s Korn mothership with nu-metal pulse and unrestrained, almost Tom Morello-sounding guitar inventiveness from Lynch. It’s really Pinnick’s deep well of emoted pain that comes through the loudest, with vocals that fall somewhere between the Detroit growl of Wilson Pickett and the boisterous R&B slather of Stax Records legend Eddie Floyd.
Pinnick’s lyrically implied spiritual muscle flex comes through in tracks like “Faith Is a Room,” where he channels decidedly Sly Stone-ish funk and backhands it with hard rock riffage, offering the idea that, “I’ve heard it said before, faith is a room with many doors – don’t be afraid.” He also tackles the uncertainties of these “dangerous times” in which we live on “Human Friction,” a beautifully flanged in tone, somewhat haunting aural escape where Pinnicck dreams of a place “where I can burn, all through the night.”
Though he shows an unbelievable amount of hang-back throughout, Lynch’s patented six-string flight of fancy appears in earnest in cuts like “Burn,” featuring a darkened slice of tone more akin to his later Lynch Mob or solo outings; he’s still every bit the fretboard gymnast that he always was, just redeployed for a new mission. Luzier also bears his teeth ably on “Do It Now,” with an almost jazz-inspired slapback and odd-metered snare striking; all three players tuck skillfully hidden virtuosity inside the song itself.
Carelessly hanging on a groove, that’s where you’ll find KXM. It’s not a bad place to be.
KXM ‘KXM’ Rating: W W W W V