Chase Charaba, Online and Social Media Manager
At the announcement of Sixx:A.M.’s fourth studio album, Prayers For the Damned, Vol. 1, fans wondered if the band would finally deliver a proper follow-up to their first two albums after the disastrous Modern Vintage alienated fans with its straight pop content and proved unsuccessful. Released April 29 and debuting at number 19 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and number seven on the Digital Albums chart, Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1 puts Sixx:A.M. back on top.
This is the band’s first album where all three members have made Sixx:A.M. a priority. Nikki Sixx seems refreshed following the end of his other band, the legendary glam metal act Motley Crue, and guitarist DJ Ashba quit Guns N’ Roses so that he could focus on his work with Sixx:A.M. This new dedication shows.
The album starts with its lead single, Rise, the best track on the album. It’s a very typical Sixx:A.M. song with big choruses, easy lyrics and an attitude that really makes listeners want to rise up. It also contains one of Sixx:A.M.’s best guitar solos. The song has more in common with the band’s second album, This is Gonna Hurt, from 2011.
You Have Come to the Right Place sounds like James Durbin’s (of American Idol fame) Higher Than Heaven from his 2011 debut album Memories of a Beautiful Disaster. After some research, it makes sense. Sixx:A.M. vocalist James Michael wrote the Durbin song. While Durbin’s song takes on a hard rock approach, Sixx:A.M. takes the middle ground between a hard rock anthem and a pop ballad, making it better than the song Michael wrote for Durbin.
The album’s title track, Prayers for the Damned, is ballad-esque but not quite traditional. It’s much slower and darker than the rest of the album, but very pleasing to listen to. It may take more than a single run-through, but this is one of Sixx:A.M.’s finest songs.
Better Man is reminiscent of the band’s first two releases, incorporating acoustic elements and straight pop-rock vocals from Michael that sound haunting at times. Along with Sixx’s stellar songwriting and Ashba’s clean guitar work, this is a standout track.
Can’t Stop tries hard to be a hit, but ultimately fails. The chanting choruses don’t mix well with the heavy orchestral background and Michael’s vocals seem weak and drowned out. This song doesn’t stand out from today’s watered-down mainstream rock.
When We Were Gods is the worst song on the album. The song’s first minute gives listeners the chills, but when the chorus breaks in, the song derails. It would’ve been better without the heavy guitar parts in the chorus and the shouting that leads into the guitar solo, much like the opening to Bon Jovi’s Lay Your Hands on Me.
Belly of the Beast is intense with a dance beat, heavy bass lines and wailing vocals. However, the song is out of place and it makes listeners wonder, “What is this?” It sounds like an outtake from Modern Vintage in 2014, and that’s where it should have stayed. This song may be catchy, but it isn’t Sixx:A.M.
Rise of the Melancholy Empire starts with a simple piano and guitar intro for nearly a minute until Michael’s voice joins in softly. The backing vocals throughout the song can best be described as a possessed church choir. This is a powerful end for the album and it leaves the listener feeling satisfied, but also longing for more.
Luckily, there’s only a few months to go until Prayers of the Damned, Vol. 2 is out.
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