Review Summary: The death of Mötley Crüe brings out a new kind of hunger in Sixx:A.M.
It's surprising enough that Sixx:A.M. have managed to make a stable career out of something that was originally only intended to document Nikki's insane life of excess and drug addiction in one album and book. But here we are in 2016 and Sixx:A.M are releasing the second half of their two part album. Crazy. What's even more surprising is Prayers For The Damned (Vol.1)
wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Predictably, after the release of Heroin Diaries
the output of the band dropped to dire lows; both This Is Gonna Hurt
and Modern Vintage
lacked soul, character and anything even remotely worth mentioning. All of the passion, hurt and soul of Heroin Diaries
was lost in translation -- obliterated into dust, and never seen from again. They felt like two albums written in the dark; style and aesthetic from both albums felt lost, trying its best to give you something out of nothing. And, indeed, this is a bed the band made for themselves when they decided to carry on a project that should have ended when it started.
In 2016, we have Mötley Crüe buried into the ground and Nikki Sixx, evidently, still out to prove something. And judging from the quality of Prayers For The Damned (Vol.1)
and Prayers For The Blessed (Vol. 2)
there appears to be something worth hearing from him again. Despite Prayers For The Damned (Vol.1)
's rather average execution, it was an album that showed a resurgence in the band; a sound that brought the dead horse back to life and in a way that captured the spirit of the debut somewhat. What Vol.2 does is refine and iron out a lot of the problems Vol.1 had, and to great effect. Riffs are more interesting, songs are tighter nit, and James Michael touches on some bloody smooth melodies throughout. The first thing that caught my attention to the LP was the guitar work and, namely, the album's solos: all the solos on here steal the show, they aren't overly complex and are constructed in a way that accommodates the mood of a track perfectly. More to my surprise, the solos tend to pop out at you from nowhere, but the surprise is also equally welcome as it generally makes tracks feel like they have a full and satisfying conclusion. But solos aside, the music is tight and holds a high level of energy, ensuring the listener is always alert when listening to the album.
Michael's voice is fantastic, he brought the Heroin Diaries
to life with his passionate performances, but for one reason or another, he has fallen flat time after time on albums since. Never quite reaching that level of melancholy and despair. In fact, like everything on This Is Gonna Hurt
and Modern Vintage
, he sounds uninspired. On Vol.2 we hear a reinvigorated frontman. His melodies are catchy, creamy and soar to the skies. He holds his weight throughout the album, but on ballads like "Maybe It's My Time" he really finds himself in his element. He even saves the album from knocking into a wall at times; the odd double bass kicks in particular on "Devils Coming" don't sound quite right with the group, but the music on the track anyway and the "wooooaaaowwww" parts touch on cliche and corny and would bring the band down a peg or two, if it weren't for Michael's fantastic verse and chorus melodies that stop the track from being a total bust, while the surprise cover of "Without You" is both elating and works really well with the band, with James Michael flexing some of his vocal abilities.
Is Prayers For The Blessed (Vol. 2)
a stroke of luck? I'm still musing over the question myself. The reason the question is brought up is because the LP does have moments that try and derail itself. As with "Devils Coming" there can be parts that clash with what the band are doing so well. As I mentioned earlier, the solos are great, but why is the album trying to give you more than your fill by devoting a 1:20 stand alone track to that. What's worse is the "Catacombs" shredding doesn't have the same feeling or context it has when it's used on an actual song. It's a shame to see the band make careless mistakes to an otherwise great album.
Overall, this is a great direction for the band, and some real progress has been made in going back to the drawing board. As with any band that releases a two part LP, one is always going to be better than the other, and Vol.2 is definitely it. It takes all the promising ideas Vol.1 had and makes them function 10x better. Everyone sounds like they have hunger in their bellies again, and it reflects on here because of that. If you lost all hope for this band, I'd recommend giving this a go, it just might lure you back into their web.
EDITIONS: MP3, C̶D̶, V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A