SIXX:A.M. – PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED
Released: 18 November 2016
℗ 2016 Eleven Seven
From April to November 2016 has proved an arduous trudge, slowed by the keen anticipation of Prayers For The Blessed from Sixx:A.M. Thankfully, Volume 1 in Prayers For The Damned has kept us company all the while and what a welcome companion it has been. I don’t believe hand has been put to disc (I said disc) more frequently than with this astounding album. Suffice it to say that my expectations for Vol 2 have been so high that they have proved cause for pause. In point of fact, I remember the excitement for vol 2 being so great when speaking to DJ ASHBA back in March, I was actually concerned about being disappointed. I simply couldn’t accept that Prayers For The Damned could possibly be equalled.
But the wait is over and immediately, track one puts all concerns to rest. Barbarians is a brilliant and extremely thrilling bridge from Prayers For The Damned as you are carried away by the massive sound. Visions of the roofs being blasted from stadiums by Sixx:A.M. and this gargantuan sound, leave me helpless to resist the feeling of genuine thrill accompanied by a goofy grin. Everything is perfect. My uncontrollable excitement swells further with the arrival of We Will Not Go Quietly, as does my realisation that full-time dedication from James, Nikki and DJ, has metamorphosed Sixx:A.M. from sensational side project to scorching, magmatic monolith and this eruption, a two Volume magnum opus. And I worry that is an understatement.
As was the case with tracks like Rise from Volume 1 and This Is Gonna Hurt from back in 2011, I visualise these songs performed live before a crowd in seething celebration of mighty rock magnificence. Prayers For The Damned and Prayers For The Blessed were quite clearly constructed from the heart, but with the massive stadium sound at the fore of intent. The influence behind Wolf At Your Door is brilliantly explained by James in our recent chat, which you can listen to here and by now I am blissfully aware that Sixx:A.M. are sweeping me away, yet again, with a second perfect collection.
In addition to songwriting and vocal prowess, James possesses tremendous skills as a producer and engineer.
I join his avid fans in looking forward to hearing the results of all his work, be it writing, singing, mixing, or producing. With performers like Hammerfall, Scorpions, Alanis Morrisette, Motley Crüe, Papa Roach, Halestorm, Sammy Hagar to name but a few, having invested in his tremendous abilities we all share in being the ongoing beneficiaries.
The importance of his skill here, as with Prayers For The Damned, is the critical continuity of the original vision through to the end product.
Maybe It’s Time is a track directly from the heart and soul of Sixx:A.M. This song will prove a lifeline for so many, so much so that one feels quite humbled to hear it. A song that is sure to stay the hand of self-harm for those in the darkened pit of desperation. Much like You Have Come To The Right Place from Vol 1, a courage swells in the listener born of acceptance and compassionate understanding. A camaraderie stemmed of experiences shared, coupled with Sixx:A.M. shining the light of hope and encouragement to bravely battle on. I find astounding the courage some musicians demonstrate when sharing their most private experiences, demons and inner selves, however, tracks like those produced by Sixx:A.M. are the magnificent result.
The Devil’s Coming is insanely impressive and an instant classic. Bursting at the seams with hooks, riffs, soaring percussion, rhythmic ebb and furious flow, perfectly entwined and wrestling for dominance in this dynamic sensation.
DJ lets loose in Catacombs which is a sensational soaring solo performance and again, the result is sheer awe compounded by the angst of anticipation, awaiting in a chance to stare stage-ward at a live performance.
During subsequent spins, I repeatedly find myself resisting the temptation to repeat some of the earlier offerings, but know I must refrain because the track sequence provides such an incredible and additional dynamic to this album. Additionally, when you play Volume 1, then 2, the experience reaches an entirely new peak of brilliance and we can become acclimatised to the lofty heights of musical, vocal, and lyrical excellence, along with the anticipation of what Sixx:A.M. may conjure for our future amazement. That said, I’m also busting to hear That’s Gonna Leave A Scar again. A sensationally Sixx:A.M., song, consistent with their own archetypical sound, now its own chapter in the annals heavy rock history. While we are dipping toes in the historical waters, a Sixx:A.M., version of Bad Finger’s Without You emerges, oozing familiarity but with a new rock edge. Now this track has been recorded by literally hundreds of performers and perhaps I am now blinded by the brilliance of Nicky, DJ and James, but this rendition would have Pete Ham and Tom Evans saying ‘damn that’s awesome’. Absolutely sensational. Please, please have a listen to the original for an appreciation how superbly Sixx:A.M. capture the original rock essence and seamlessly blended it with their contemporary hard rock excellence.
I was thrilled to hear James perform Suffocate, and so brilliantly. In my humble opinion, this is an unprecedented demonstration of his superb vocal ability and raw passion in performance. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to learn that the track is about 15 years old and was written at a time of great pain, front and centre on the battlegrounds of personal anguish. To hear a track like this brought to life after so many years, silently cradling those raw sentiments, is genuinely thrilling and to be invited to share with James and Sixx:A.M. is something very special indeed.
It seems redundant to repeat the identical sentiments for Riot In My Head, so I simply refer you to the above comments. My only addition is to offer further thanks to James for his courage to share those emotive experiences with, such musical excellence bearing the healthy fruit. I feel compelled to note that we, the grateful recipients, hold respect for the journey whilst enjoying the reward. Thanks to Nikki, who doubtless was instrumental in helping draw those demons to the fore and turn such angst into magnificent anthems. While I’m at the superfluous outpourings of gratitude, thanks to DJ for his musical influence and guitar prowess, providing the power push into gargantuan, stadium-sized offerings. The results of Sixx:A.M. launching full time together, quite literally speak for themselves on Prayers For The Damned and Prayers For The Blessed as a collection, or as individual albums. We, the long-time followers are certainly enjoying the glorious warm glow of vindication as more fans join the fold. When you consider Sixx:A.M. has a quality back catalogue in The Heroin Diaries, This Is Gonna Hurt and Modern Vintage and couple it with the consideration that Prayers For The Damned and Prayers For The Blessed are their first dedicated works together full time, the excitement becomes irresistibly infections. Together and unencumbered by the demands of former bands, these magicians are free to apply the Midas touch they collectively possess. Now settle back and enjoy the perfection of Helicopters as the album finale. Just perfect.
Prayers For The Blessed is the perfect cohesive accompaniment to follow Prayers For The Damned. Together or enjoyed individually, this twin album collection constitutes absolute rock brilliance and moreover, musical excellence. Bravura Sixx:A.M.