Of all the various Motley Crue offshoot bands over the years such as Methods of Mayhem, 58 and Brides of Destruction, much less Vince Neil and Tommy Lee’s solo albums and Lee’s Rock Star Supernova, Sixx: A.M. is the most honest.
If you’ve read Nikki Sixx’s rendering book The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, you’re taken deep into his tattered mindframe circa 1986 and ’87 when Motley Crue ascended the ladder of hard rock success and subsequently released its second-biggest commercial hitGirls Girls Girlsahead of the far-superiorDr. Feelgood. Reading about Sixx’s extraordinarydecadence (even managing to out-shock Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his own debased narrative Scar Tissue), Sixx admits Girls Girls Girlsin his opinion suffered much from his addictions and his inability at the time to get a grip on life. It’s also the reason—along with the other Motley Crue candid expose The Dirt—that Saints of Los Angeles is Motley’s best and most sincere album in years.
Forming Sixx: A.M. with the purpose of breathing musical life into Nikki Sixx’s sordid and troubled autobiography, the end result featuring James Michael on vocals and guitars and DJ Ashba also on guitars is decidedly an anti-Crue soul-purging. The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack weaves a drug-infested and clean-resurrected rock opera with appreciable candor and courage. Colliding excerpts of Sixx’s diaries with a sound bred of Meat Loaf, Muse, Hanoi Rocks and FM radio rock with dashes of haunted Danny Elfman-esque scores, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack serves as fair warning to junkies in the guise of poster child rock stars. It is also Nikki Sixx’s confessional to his massive audience which headbanged along to his monster bass though keeping a wary eye on him, knowing he’s already dropped dead from this life for a few terrifying minutes.
There is hope amidst The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack as there is desperation and a self-flogging lament expounded from Nikki Sixx’s sinful past, one indirectly pinpointed to rejection in his youth by his estranged parents. Compounded into 13 songs which vary between pounding rock jams and fragile ballads born of pain instead of schmaltzy lust (“Tomorrow” and “Girl With Golden Eyes,” for instance), The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack respires on its soaring single “Life is Beautiful” as well the schizophrenic “Pray For Me.” It throws darts at an absentee father figure on “Dead Man’s Ballet” and swoons into gospel-laden choruses as compensation for the internal anger seething out of Sixx’s accusatory lyrics. No one could’ve predicted “Heart Failure” would be so tuneful with a combination of biting Goth riffs and a rockout solo section. Nevertheless there’s deeply buried apprehension in the low-end notes of the song that plummet the listener into Nikki Sixx’s near-death experience.
As Sixx: A.M. bravely mixes in random electro pulses, a Piccadilly circus of the damned nuance, a subliminal Eight Mile hip hop-rock grooveon “Van Nuys” and even some Beatles and Black Crowes swoons on “Permission,” The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack rises above the implication of cross-market gimmickry. Included in this deluxe edition is a bonus live CD recorded at this year’s Crue Fest, Live Is Beautiful. Featuring eight songs from The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, only Nikki Sixx can attest to what it must’ve felt like to put his life’s story on display in front of a summer festival crowd, much less challenging them to wrap their heads around a frequently morose and cheerless form of metal expressionism, although “Life is Beautiful” and “Pray For Me” might be the two best songs Sixx has ever written. And you thought Motley’s “Danger” or the John Corabi-sung “Welcome to the Numb” were disturbed…
Sixx: A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack Deluxe Edition
Eleven Seven Music
Review by Ray Van Horn, Jr