What a difference a death makes. On December 31, 2015, Motley Crue was effectively given its last rites, at least for the foreseeable future. With that death, Sixx:A.M. was finally allowed to spread its wings and soar. Up to this point, the band was, for better or worse, a Nikki Sixx side project providing a musical soundtrack to his literary and photography projects. Sixx:A.M. was resigned to share the spotlight with The Crue and, more importantly, the creative energy of its namesake.
With the release of Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1, Sixx:A.M raises the bar in a big way. Not to minimize the previous three records which all included some fantastic moments, but Prayers is like a 50-minute ride on the roof of a speeding train while getting kicked in the teeth. When it’s over you’re left exhausted and exhilarated and all you want to do is do it all over again. While the album is distinctively Sixx:A.M.,the riffs are as strong as anything Sixx has delivered since The Crue‘s Saints of Los Angeles.
As strong as the music is, the record shines lyrically as well. You’ll have to pay close attention when listening as a lyric sheet is not included with either the CD or LP version. Sixx’s ability to paint amazing pictures with words is well known, but he and James Michael make a great one-two punch. Like the music, the tone is heavy and dark delivered with a never give up attitude. Everyone has felt the sting of being mistreated, beaten down and marginalized. This record sends the clear message that it’s ok to be angry, you are not alone, get up off the mat, dust yourself off and get to kicking ass. While his contributions as a lyricist stand out, make no mistake, his flawless vocal, dynamic melodies and production, are as key to Sixx:A.M.
The record opens with “Rise”, the first single, anthem and great opener. The next two songs, “You Have Come to the Right Place” and “I’m Sick” are arguably two of the best on the album with absolutely no filler. DJ Ashba’s playing shines throughout, but these represent two of his best solos. His lead work is melodic and clearly composed to fit the song, not show off his chops, of which he has no shortage of. No shredding for the sake of shredding, but make no mistake, Ashba can shred with the best of them.
Next up are the title track and “Better Man”. The ballad-like intro of “Prayers” creates a mellow vibe before kicking into another heavy, hooky chorus. The mid-tempo and introspective “Better Man” leads into another huge anthem, “Can’t Stop”. If this track doesn’t get you pumped, check your pulse, you might be dead.
Similar to the title track, “When We Were Gods” starts off slowly and builds into another huge chorus. Sixx’s overdriven, haunted bass drives the next track, “Belly of the Beast”. Hear that bass growl front and center.
The next two tracks are almost sister tracks, viewing similar situations from different emotional points of view. “Everything Went to Hell” and “The Last Time (My Heart Will Ever Hit the Ground)” are a no holds barred look at being on the wrong side of love. Cheated on, lied to? These are for you. We’ve all been there.
The album wraps with the aptly titled, “Rise of the Melancholy Empire”. A perfect bookend to the record and perhaps a foreshadow to Vol. 2 due out later this year.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a kick-ass rock record, look no further, “You Have Come to the Right Place”.
Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1 is available now on CD, digital download, and clear vinyl.