(Rat Pak)

01. Stars
02. Rescue Me
03. Gun Fight
04. Never Stop
05. Faith Is a Room
06. I'll Be OK
07. Sleep
08. Love
09. Burn
10. Do it Now
11. Human Friction
12. Tranquilize
13. Rescue Me (radio edit)

RATING: 8/10

Quite the unusual alliance in the form of guitar wizard George Lynch, soulful KING'S X bassist and crooner Doug "dUg" Pinnick, plus KORN drummer Ray Luzier. Yet sure enough, the threesome are a dandy match for one another as KXM. Having come together officially after jamming on the side, there's no telling how far KXM is intended to go, though it's almost a safe bet KXM is considered by its constituents as a side venture for kicks. Accordingly, these guys take their time to work their numbers, but often it's by deliberation and most of the time, the songs pay off on their self-titled debut.

All three members of KXM use their prestige as an opportunity to explore outside of their best-known facilities, even if KING'S X gets heavy songwriting representation here. As background singers, Lynch and Luzier recreate if not wholly duplicate the harmonious humming and ahh-ing of Jerry Gaskill and Ty Tabor. To large effects, "KXM" rings like a satiation serving for Pinnick's fans using a pair of superpowers to give listeners a bonus thrill.

Lynch and Pinnick dish up some tasty echoing licks to open up the album's single, "Rescue Me", (and later on "Do It Now") before settling into a slink where each member methodically works to an uplifting and catchy chorus. There's a decided KING'S X feel to the number, also to the sweaty, stepped-up pace of "Gun Fight" and the appositely drawn-back slide of "Sleep". On the latter song, Pinnick orates some sordid family affairs in song that keeps listeners glued even with the laborious crawl of the tune. The country and blues-oriented ballad "Never Stop" comes off as both KING'S X and the band's numerous hard rocking contemporaries of the late Eighties. The difference on "Never Stop" is George Lynch's dwindling notes along the verses that cart instead of thread. Thus there's an extra breeziness to the number that satiates nicely.

"Faith Is a Room" changes things up a bit with each member's respective backgrounds coming together in a strange alliance of DOKKEN-meets-KORN with a funky drive courtesy of Pinnick. Throwing in a peaceful choral interlude that could've rested snugly on KING'S X's "Faith Hope Love" album, it's almost surprising how sharp "Faith Is a Room" is with all of its differing input. Then if Lynch had been able to hang with DOKKEN longer, there's no doubt he would've pushed hard for the sex-driven glide of "Burn" that sounds equally tailored for Don Dokken as Pinnick.

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Ray Luzier must've had the most fun of the trio, since he gets to show off his chops that aren't always showcased through KORN's straightforward rhythms. Luzier has as many dynamics in his arsenal as his KXM partners and it's a treat hearing him lay down shuffle slides on top of roll-happy chugs and polyrhythmic fills. He just about steals the limelight on the instrumental jam "Tranquilize" and he more than keeps up with George Lynch's guitar theatrics and Pinnick's ravenous bass plunks on the extensive solo section of "I'll Be OK". Though "I'll Be OK" hits a tremendous crescendo, the biggest climax on the album comes from the escalating sonic euphoria of "Human Friction" that already has a gnarly set of riffs to build from. One can detect Ray Luzier feeling awestruck as he hammers away in tandem.

Though not every song here lights the room on fire, there's an appreciable tightness to "KXM" that finds veterans of different eras merged into a compact forum where they're enjoying each other's company and finding ways to delight their whims and those of their fans. If you're a KING'S X fan especially, this is going to be a mandatory grab while lying in wait of Pinnick, Tabor and Gaskill to come up with their next offering.


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