KXM - Scatterbrain album review

dUg Pinnick’s astute American power trio reaps as it sows.

KXM - Scatterbrain album artwork

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This side-project-cum-supergroup’s eponymously titled 2014 debut stimulated a lot of interest, and this second salvo is set to raise the band’s profile further. Initially, the combination of Kings X mainman dUg Pinnick handling bass and lead vocals, Korn drummer Ray Luzier, and Dokken and Lynch Mob axe-wrangler George Lynch might seem a slightly disparate blend. The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, sits somewhere between the nu-metal/alt rock of Korn and the eclectic, hard-edged sounds and soulful hooks of Kings X, with Lynch terrific throughout adding grit and invention.

Apparently written entirely in the studio over a three-week period, Scatterbrain clocks in at well over an hour of quite wide-ranging material, albeit with consistent core sounds and an overall feel. Straight out of the gate, the title track is a jagged, urgent statement of intent with Pinnick almost howling the one-word refrain. For a guy in his 60s, Pinnick sounds great and he stamps his identity very firmly on this album (he’s also looking annoyingly spry in the promo pics). For fans of Kings X, tracks like Breakout, the rhythmic pump and chunky riffing of Big Sky Country with its Gillan-esque screams, and the slightly bluesy Noises In The Sky may help to ease the wait for their next long threatened release.

Funk and blues elements crop up frequently, in tracks like Obsession, True Deceivers and Stand for instance, and Not A Single Word incorporates bits of pop rock and even ska. In lesser hands such inclusions might help to consign the project to the “old farts still trying to sound hip” file, but KXM manages to give everything a contemporary sheen and inject real vibrancy, something Luzier’s often driving and unrelenting – yet unerringly appropriate – playing helps to emphasise.

KXM also challenges preconceptions – anyone seeing George Lynch as just an 80s hair metal hold-over, for instance, really needs to hear this and the range of sounds and styles he manages to squeeze out of his guitars – from creative rhythm and solo ideas in Breakout and Calypso to the technoflash noodling of Obsession and Panic Attack. The trio format seems to work well for KXM, and Lynch is a big part of this, managing to coax beguiling and expansive textures out of his instrument in tracks like Stand, but it is tempting to imagine how their sonic world might expand with a dedicated keyboard player.

While arguably not fitting any handy prog-related pigeonhole, Scatterbrain is very definitely worthy of your attention and offers much to fans of hard, slightly raw rock with bold hooks and shrewd twists.

Gary Mackenzie

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.