KXM – Circle of Dolls (2019)

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KXM is the hard rock side project of dUg Pinnick of Kings X, George Lynch of Dokken and Ray Luzier of Korn.  Having previously released two albums, the trio have just dropped their third, Circle of Dolls.

From the opening moments of War of Words, it’s clear that KXM is making music for themselves first, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  This is simply three world class musicians jamming together – the end result is going to grab attention, but it’s mostly for them.  Case in point, after three albums, they have still never played live!

This is an album full of moments that challenge the listener.  Non traditional song structures are used frequently, and the results are interesting and often exciting.  Mind Swamp features sharp guitars and a brilliant cinematic solo.  The vocals are laid back, and put me in mind of Alice in Chains at times.

The title track is more of a straight forward rock number.  Luzier fills all the gaps with some very busy drumming, but melody is the king of this track.  Lightning is all about the groove, Time Flies ups the ante in the vocal department, as Pinnick really demonstrates that he can be smooth and almost croon, but also takes off and soars through the choruses.

Twice clocks in at over six minutes, and sees this three piece unit really utilise every inch of their abilities.  The track is absolutely flooded with melodies and harmonies, and it’s probably the best set of lyrics of the album too.

Big as the Sun is all about the infectious rhythmic tapping of Ray Luzier and the wall of sound that Lynch builds with his guitars.  This track also features some killer bass lines, injecting a decent helping of funk into the mix.  This is a standout track for sure.

Vessel of Destruction is another track brought to life by Luzier’s drumming.  He appears to be the centre of the band, and the other members build around his foundations.  A Day Without Me is a bluesy number to begin with, but seamlessly evolves into a huge hard rock wall of sound.

Wide Awake is another showcase for Pinnicks voice, Shadow Lover has a slightly ominous feeling to it, but when that riff cuts through, it’s superb.  Cold Sweats and The Border close out the album, and together they are a great reminder of everything that came before them.

There is so much going on in this music, that it absolutely commands multiple listens.  KXM is interesting and very much outside of the ordinary.

8/10

Shayne McGowan.

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