By Bob Nalbandian

CD Reviews March 2008

Strum Sum Up
Magna Carta

King's X bassist/vocalist/mastermind Dug Pinnick is back with an astounding new solo release. Being a long-time fan of Pinnick's eclectic musical style and his uniquely soulful voice since King's X 1988 debut Out of the Silent Planet I knew to expect something both musically and lyrically intriguing from Pinnick's first solo effort Strum Sum Up. But...holy shit! I never expected something with this impact! I was never too enthusiastic about King's X's latter releases (as they seemed a bit redundant for my tastes) and over recent years I've opted more for Pinnick's side projects such as Supershine and PoundHound. But having said that, everything I've truly missed about Pinnick in recent releases...his unbelievably powerful/soulful voice, his bombastic bass/guitar riffs, brighter more dynamic production (I found the latter King's X and PoundHound records to be muddied up and midi-ed up to the point where it'd distort when turned up loud), and stunning impromptu jamming...shines brighter that ever on Strum Sum Up!

From the opening riffs of "Perfect World" Pinnick and his exceptional team of musicians lay down some of the most punishing grooves that will compel you into an hour-long headbanging frenzy. And that voice! Now this is the Dug Pinnick I so fondly remembered...emotional yet overwhelmingly powerful! As the mid-break to the opening track approaches and you take a moment to catch your breath, Pinnick pummels you to the floor with this bombastic rhythm-riff. Absolutely relentless! And when you think it's over - then comes Part 2! The groove-train chunks along in this monumental instrumental jam highlighted by Pinnick's amazing bass/guitar riffs and Wally Farkas's brilliant fretwork reminiscing the classic guitar jams of Hendrix/Trower/Marino. "Damn It" lays back the groove into a more subtle yet ultra-catchy Deep Purplish tone. "Dynomite" opens in subtle King's X fashion and then explodes into a commanding chorus that lingers into (you guessed it) "Dynomite (PT. 2)." I love the way it creeps from a moody Alice In Chains Angry Chair-ish groove then builds into a riff-raging fury! Dug really let's loose at the end of this song as he wails away like he did back in the Gretchen days. The Part 2's are a brilliant concept and really accentuate the dynamics and spontaneity of this disc. It's like hearing Motorhead's "Overkill" for the very first're waiting for it to end yet at the same time you hope it never ends! The songs that follow aren't quite as powerful but still hold strong; "Life Is What You Make It" has an incredibly catchy uplifting chorus and "Part 2" keeps the groovy chorus-riff flowing that melds into a '70s R&B-style vocal chant. Other highlights include the funkified epic "Coming Over," "Hostile World" (which, ones again builds into a powerhouse groove at the end with Pinnick wailing away like no other), and the incredible closers "Cross It" and "Cross It (PT. 2)" (Great early Zep-style riff on this!).

Strum Sum Up was released late last year easily putting it in my top 3 CDs of 2007. A flat-out remarkable solo effort from Dug Pinnick, this album has all the elements of a classic rock/metal record. And one must also give credit to Pinnick's amazing group of musicians, most notably guitarist Wally Farkas (who also co-produced the CD along with Dug and Michael Parnin) and the vast array of guest musicians including Steve Stevens and (executive producer/backing vocalist/guitarist) Hal Sparks.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 15 Page 2