I first encountered Sixx A.M. back with the release of ‘The Heroin Diaries’ – the album that was basically released as a musical adjunct to Nikki Sixx’s book of the time.
Except it became a bit more than that. It stood very firmly on its own musical merit. Surprisingly so, in fact.
Capitalising on the popularity of ‘The Dirt’ (which remains an essential page turner in your library), the Crue bassist did a pretty decent job of telling his side of the story through a rake of Big Rock tracks.
If you’ve read either of the books you’ll know the score – Van Nuys Boulevard this, Accidents that.
It was interesting, and better yet, it was pretty musically satisfying. And the band too was curious. Comprised of Sixx, producer and songwriter to the stars James Michel (Crue, Hammerfall, Scorpions, and yes, Papa Roach) and DJ Ashba, the slickness of it all was an indication that it was the product of a trio who’d been more than round the LA block.
Oh and dont presume DJ Ashba is a DJ. He isn’t. There’s no scratching and samples on this. It’s just Darren Jay, and what’s more he was the guitarist for Guns N Roses for a while on the Chinese Democracy tour. Granted there were dozens. But it shows the pedigree that Mr Sixx is working worth.
So, introductions over. Is this latest one any good?
Well, it’s hardly as rough hewn and sexy as Motley Crue, but what is.
It’s also left the darkness and introspection of ‘The Heroin Diaries’ behind somewhat, which was an initial disappointment, but which I suppose means Nikki has very literally got it out of his system.
Ashba is a pretty good guitarist in the classic hair metal mould – slick – and even gets his own ‘Eruption’ style moment on ‘Catacombs’.
It’s big hard rock, polished to a sheen, written by eagle eared producer / multi instrumetalists who know how to wring the most out of a chorus. It misses only Desmond Child.
There are nods to Motley Crue’s locomotive chug in a few of the tracks, notably the excellent ‘The Devil’s Coming’ and the moody ‘That’s Gonna Leave A Scar’, with its darker 80’s feel that sort of harks to Whitesnake a bit.
On vocals James Michael is very, very good. He has a bang of Sammy Hagar or John Corabi about him. The epitome of the Big American Rock Singer.
He does particularly well on ‘Riot In My Head’, which actually does sound like he means every note. No small thing. ‘Helicopters’ has this feeling as well, and is a superb rock ballad. Twenty years ago it would have been all over the radio like a rash.
I guess being called ‘Prayers For The Blessed’, following on from the same ‘…for the Damned’ means the tonality will be a bit more redemptive all round, and that’s very much the vibe. By the back end, the band are in reflective mood and the songs take a noticably soul searching quality.
Is this longhand for saying it could do with a bit more oomph? Maybe. Probably, even. But it just doesnt seem like that’s the brief this time round – they’re going for a different thing on this one, that’s probably closer to pop.
Still though, it’s pretty satisfying – particularly the back half, which after they’ve revved up is where it sings properly. If you’re after a bit of US mega-rock, cracked out by a trio of old hands who know precisely what they’re doing, then you know it’ll hit the spot.
Powerballadry writ large for the most part, it’s not the heaviest or most energetic, but there’s passion in there, moreso than with some of their peers. If you’re into some 80s moods brought a bit more up to date, give it a go.
2.8 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 26/01/17
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