Some points of clarity before I write a single world about the new project KXM, in order that this review is understood and evaluated fairly by anyone reading it. This project features three guys - Dug Pinnick of King's X, George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, and Ray Luzier who is currently the drummer for Korn. Out of fairness, I'll allow the following for this review. First, I'm not a fan of Dug Pinnick's music at all. I've interviewed him several times (I think five times, actually), and he's a super cool guy, but musically I've just never, ever gotten King's X as much as I've wanted to understand why so many just worship them. In many ways, King's X falls into that category that Dream Theater does for me - that I just don't understand the appeal of. As for Lynch, again putting it out there, I work for Dokken as their webmaster and also for current Dokken guitarist Jon Levin as his as well. That said, I think Lynch has the distinction of not only recording some of the best music of the "hair era and beyond (because LYNCH/PILSON was by far his best recorded work), but he's also recorded two of the worst albums of all time in my ears in Dokken's SHADOWLIFE and Lynch Mob's SMOKE THIS. I haven't liked much of Lynch's work in a long time, as Microdot, Souls of We and other stuff I'm sure I'm missing have just not been very good. As for Luzier, I think I met him once at a David Lee Roth show in the late 90s, enjoyed the DLR Band album he played on, like Korn, and also remember that he had some sort of association with Darren Householder from one of my favorite bands that never made it big, Love/Hate. So there, it's on the table.
The reason I'm putting it on the table? Because I know that no matter what I write next is going to be met with a bunch of criticism. If I say I hate KXM, it's because I hate King's X or Lynch. If I say I like it, it's because I'm a Korn fan. At least now, you can take this review with the proper grain of salt.
The truth though is that, aside from the single "Release Me", KXM is actually a pretty solid listen. I don't love it, but certainly don't hate it either. As a fan of somewhat experimental projects, KXM seems to cross a lot of boundaries that many bands probably wouldn't try to go across. It's hard not to hear King's X from song to song when Pinnick is so much the pivotal member of that band, but throughout KXM, he's added just a hint more texture to his vocal presentation to come across closer to Jeff Scott Soto than his own back catalog. Again, that's just a little difference, and certainly you won't be mistaking one for the other any time soon. Still, he sounds pretty compelling on songs like "Gun Fight".
As for Lynch, KXM is one of those releases from him where his love of trying to not repeat his past has helped him more than hurt him. On other projects (specifically Souls Of We), he stretched far past what made him great. Here on songs like "Faith Is A Room", he seems to explore some kind of odd double tuning in his playing that mixes both modern guitar sound and a deeper tuning that he used in Lynch Mob on REVOLUTION LIVE. Lynch sounds pretty solid here, and is accompanied well by Luzier, who's got a machine gun sounding tribal beat going underneath Lynch and Pinnick on this song.
While overall, KXM is pretty solid, it does come with some missteps. As previously mentioned, the first single "Release Me" is just not a good song. It's far too filled with weirdness, specifically from Lynch who seems to be trying to create too much texture instead of just playing and driving the song with his guitar. The other song that really shouldn't have made this album is the somber, almost pathetic tale of spousal abuse and a mother's willingness to take it called "Sleep". I think it was supposed to be a blues song, but it fails here hard. Lynch's guitar playing is far too metal for the blues solo he provides, and Pinnick is comes off more whiny than feeling deeply pained as I think he was going for. Definitely an immediate skip on future listenings of this release.
PITRIFF RATING - 74/100 - Overall, KXM is a pretty cool project. I would love to see these guys tour with the Winery Dogs just to see the end of show jam that would almost certainly end each show. This is a project that could very potentially have some legs to it, and they are off to a solid start.