Sixx AM - 'Prayers For The Damned'

 

 

THE BAND:
Nikki Sixx – bass guitar
DJ Ashba – lead guitar
James Michael – lead vocals, keyboards
Dustin Steinke – drums
additional musicians:
Melissa Harding - background vocals
Amber Vanbuskirk - background vocals

 TRACKLISTING:
1.) “Rise” - The intro to this track opens with the band plus Melissa and Amber singing the title "rise" four times.  Outside of Mötley Crüe using female back-up singers on the 'Dr. Feelgood' and the 'All Bad Things Must Come To An End' tours I believe this is the only time Nikki has used two female back-up singers.  In between each backing vocal James sings a lyric line.   Underneath the fourth full lyric line, Dustin hits a huge cymbal crash that kicks-in the musical section of the intro.  Underneath DJ's rhythm guitar arrangement of the musical intro James played a keyboard arrangement.  DJ changed the rhythm guitar arrangement for the musical verse.  For the first two measures of verse the last two lyrics of all the odd lyric lines (1, 3, 5, &7) was repeated connecting it to the even lyric lines.  After the eighth lyric line there was a rhythm arrangement change.  This one measure consisted of just a rhythm guitar and lead vocals.  After this measure there was a rhythm guitar change for the musical chorus.  The lyric arrangement of the pre-chorus was the same arrangement that opened the song except for the fact Melissa and Amber sing back-up underneath the main lyric lines.  The way Nikki, James and DJ arranged the lyric lines of the pre-choruses completely blew me away!  The lyric arrangement of the choruses were arranged in the same fashion as the lyric arrangements that opened the song.  After the first chorus, there was a lead guitar solo.  The drum line Dustin played on the chorus threw me for a second because he throws in a couple of double-bass drum patterns out of the middle of nowhere.  After the lead guitar solo, there was a second chorus.  This chorus was arranged as if you would arrange a breakdown section.  The coda was a chorus arrangement with the song ending on just a led vocal line.
2.) “You Have Come to the Right Place” - Before I get into the breakdown of this track, let me just say this is one of the best songs I have ever heard lyrically.  This track opens with DJ playing a rhythm guitar riff over the top of a floor tom and bass drum pattern.  In many ways the heaviness Dustin added reminds you a lot of the Shinedown song "Sound Of Madness".  About two measures into the intro DJ overdubbed a couple lead guitar licks.  After four measures Dustin begins playing the same rhythm on one of his cymbal crashes as the floor tom and bass drum pattern.  For the cymbal crash pattern he dropped the floor tom to chocked the cymbal.  The rhythm guitar of the musical verse had one hell of a hook attached to it.  When the lyrics of the verse kick-in they turned down the music just a little almost forcing you to pay attention to the lyrics.  After the third lyric line the music section was turned back up.  After the fourth lyric line there was a rhythm arrangement change for the musical chorus.  The chorus had an amazing lyrical and vocal hook attached to it.  For the musical chorus DJ overdubbed a second rhythm guitar arrangement.  To connect the first chorus with the second verse there was a small minor lead guitar solo.  After the second chorus there was a major lead guitar solo.  Some of the notes DJ played on this solo where the same notes as the ones as the notes of the lyric lines.  The second verse consisted of only vocals and a keyboard arrangement.  It is almost like a breakdown section however, it is actually the second verse.  After the second chorus there was a major lead guitar solo.  After the lead guitar solo there was a breakdown section.  This breakdown leads to the third chorus.
3.) “I’m Sick” - Before going into the musical intro this track opens with a small guitar effect.  The musical intro consisted of a heavy rhythm guitar rhythm.  The musical intro consisted of DJ playing a very heavy rhythm guitar arrangement over the top of a drum and bass line.  There was a drum fill connecting the intro with the musical verse.  For the musical verse DJ dropped the distorted rhythm guitar arrangement for a more subtle rhythm guitar arrangement.  The band slowed the musical arrangement down for the musical verse.  I am not wearing headphones so I cannot say for sure however, it sounded as if Dustin's cymbal crashes where stereo split.  If so then this was the first time I have ever heard this type of recording technique.  This by the way was very cool.  There was an arrangement change for the musical chorus.  DJ switched back to a distorted rhythm guitar for the musical chorus.  The choruses of this song were very short.  The hi-hat pattern Dustin wrote for the song ranks up there with some of the best I have ever heard.  For the rhythm guitar arrangement of the second chorus DJ added a few palm muting effects.  The  third chorus which was right after the second chorus consisted of DJ playing a lead guitar rhythm over the top of the rhythm guitar arrangement.  After the third chorus there was a spoken lead vocal over the top of Melissa and Amber singing backing vocals.  Musically this breakdown section consisted of a keyboard effect over the top of a bass drum kick.  For me, Melissa and Amber's backing vocals made the breakdown section.  After the breakdown section the song kicks back in.  Over the top of the rhythm guitar arrangement DJ plays a blistering lead guitar solo.  When Michael mixed this track he should have turned the rhythm arrangement down just a little to bring DJ's lead guitar solo to the forefront.  Not that there is anything wrong with the mix, DJ solo just gets a little lost. The coda consisted of a chorus arrangement.
4.) “Prayers For the Damned” - The intro to this track opens With DJ playing a very simple picking rhythm arrangement.  Underneath the picking arrangement, DJ overdubbed a small strumming rhythm.  Tough small and will mostly go unnoticed gives the main rhythm arrangement a more full sound.  Underneath these two rhythms there is some sort of keyboard effect.  This arrangement lasts for maybe a measure then the band kicks the musical intro in.  For the musical intro DJ kept the main picking rhythm however, instead of a strumming arrangement that opened the song he changed it to a distorted electric rhythm.  Over the top of the two rhythm guitar arrangements DJ overdubbed several lead guitar licks.  About a measure into the main musical intro there was a snare drum fill.  After the snare drum fill DJ's guitar tracks are turned up just a little.  This musical intro alone had just a huge hook attached to it that I cannot wait to hear the rest of song.  All three members are credited as composers on the CD so I do not know who came up with the different guitar track idea.  Whoever came up with this idea was a fucking genius!  For the musical verse the band slows the song down by using the same electric guitar picking arrangement as the one DJ used for the musical intro.  Every lyric along with the way they were arranged completely blew me away.  This by far ranks up there with the greatest thing Nikki   as ever written!!!!
5.) "Better Man” - This intro consisted of a rhythm guitar arrangement, bass and drum line.  The musical intro consisted of an acoustic guitar arrangement.  For this intro section Nikki wrote what is by far the best bass line I have ever heard him write.  Guess it is a good thing he was not caught stealing that guitar way back when!  Dustin placed the cymbal crashes of the drum line in the perfect locations.  When I first listened to this song I thought it needed a second rhythm guitar for the intro section.  However, if DJ had of overdubbed a second acoustic guitar then you would not had been able to have heard the huge bass line.  There was a tom-tom fill connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  Instead of changing the rhythm guitar arrangement or the musical verse Nikki changed his bass line.  Too me since Nikki's bass line is the main instrumentation of the song it only makes sense to change it for the musical verse.  Instead of completely changing his rhythm guitar arrangement for the verse DJ just kind of tweaked it a little.  There was a small musical rest underneath the last lyric of the musical verse.  There was a rhythm change for the musical chorus.  The chorus consisted of a huge Sixx hook.  There as a keyboard arrangement underneath the rhythm guitar of the second chorus this was something that was different than the first chorus.  Or at least it was not as prominent.  Underneath the fifth lyric of the second chorus there was a small snare drum fill.  Michael carried out the last lyric of the fifth lyric line.  After the chorus there was a tom-tom fill that connected the second chorus with the lead guitar solo.  The lead guitar solo had a very melodic feel to it.  The coda consisted of the third chorus.
6.) “Can’t Stop” - No amount of words could express how amazing this song is!  I was just completely blown away!!!!!
7.) “When We Were Gods” - This intro opens with a keyboard arrangement.  Starting on the downbeat Dustin plays a bass drum pattern.  After the first two measures, Michael overdubbed a second keyboard arrangement.  The vocals kick-in at the same time the second keyboard arrangement does.  Michael mixed the first two lyric lines with a vocal echo this really gave his vocal track a very haunting feeling. After the second lyric line DJ along with Nikki and Dustin kick the song in.  DJ used a minor chord arrangement giving the musical verse a very melancholy sound.  Dustin's drum line consisted of a tom-tom/snare drum pattern instead of the standard hi-hat arrangement.  Underneath the third lyric line Dustin switches the drum line from a tom-tom pattern to a standard hi-hat drum line.  For this section of the drum line Dustin starts the measure playing eighth-notes then ends the hi-hat rhythm playing sixteenth-notes.  This really showed his amazing drum talent!  The second measure consisted of a very strange abstract musical change.  This musical change consisted of just a bass drum kick and a strange snare drum effect underneath the lyric lines.  The musical change lasted for only one measure.  After this measure the chorus kicked-in.  The chorus consisted of a huge musical and lyrical hook.  There was a huge snare drum fill underneath the rhythm guitar connecting the first musical chorus with the second verse.  The second verse consisted of Dustin playing several tom-tom fills.  After the second chorus there was a Nikki expressed his amazing writing and arranging talent.  After the breakdown, section there was a lead guitar solo.  Though the blistering lead guitar solo that DJ wrote for this song as a little on the short side.  However, with that being said the song is so strong and the chorus has such a huge hook it really did not need a great big over blown lead guitar solo.
8.) “Belly of the Beast” - This intro opens with an acoustic guitar rhythm.  The best way to describe this rhythm is as it is something you would have heard in an old spaghetti western movie only speeded up.  After the riff is repeated four times DJ played four lead guitar licks over the top of the rhythm.  The acoustic rhythm is played one more time and then DJ repeated the four lead guitar licks again.  At first, and it still does not mean it isn't nevertheless, I thought Nikki was playing the main rhythm with an acoustic bass.  However, there is a bass line underneath the rhythm so I imagine this rhythm was played with a very odd tuned acoustic guitar.  The way the music and lyrics of the verse was arranged and mixed just completely God smacked me!  Underneath the third lyric line DJ kicks in a distorted rhythm guitar arrangement.  After the musical verse there was an arrangement change.  Over the top of the musical arrangement connecting first verse with the first chorus there was several backing vocal harmonies.  These backing vocal harmonies had a church choir sound to them.  There was a snare drum fill connecting this piece of music with the musical chorus.  The musical chorus consisted of two different guitar arrangements one lead arrangement and one rhythm arrangement.  Michael mixed his vocal tracks at different volumes giving the vocals a strange effect.  There were times when it sounded as if there were two different rhythm guitar arrangements plus the four lead licks that are scattered throughout the arrangement.
9.) “Everything Went to Hell” - This track opens with a strange little keyboard effect.  Underneath the keyboard effect, Dustin and Nikki play three eighth-notes and one quarter-note pattern.  To connect this arrangement with the musical verse DJ kicked in one hell of a mean rhythm guitar riff.  Over the top of this riff DJ overdubbed a minor lead guitar solo. There was a rhythm guitar change for the musical verse.  The lyric lines along with rhythm guitar arrangement of the opening verse had a had a huge in your face feel it.  There was several ball drum kicks connecting the first verse with the first chorus.                                                                                   
10.) “The Last Time (My Heart Will Hit The Ground)” -This intro consisted of a very cool rhythm guitar riff over the top of a drum and bass line.  There as a snare drum fill connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  The musical verse consisted of a rhythm guitar arrangement along with a lead guitar arrangement.  As the verse progresses it sounded as if the arrangement speeded up.  There was a one measure musical change connecting the musical verse with the musical chorus.  Though the lyric arrangement of the chorus had a small hook attached to it, you could barely hear the hook let alone the lyrics because the music arrangement was turned up to loud.  After the second chorus there was a music arrangement change that lead to the third chorus. (in between the second and third choruses I was kind of   expecting some sort of lead guitar solo)
11.) “Rise of the Melancholy Empire” - This song was utterly amazing!!!!!!



     First off this CD is strong enough there should be absolutely no reason why it should not get any air-play or be on the top twenty rock chart!!! 'Prayers For The Damned Vol I' was released on April 29, 2016, it is volume one of a two disc set Vol. II is scheduled to be released later on in this year.  This is the fourth solo CD from the founding member and bassist Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe's solo band Sixx AM.  Nikki is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation.  Don't believe me just pull out any Mötley Crüe CD and listen to any song that isn't a cover song.  With 'Prayers For The Damned Vol I'  Nikki just destroyed all the stuff he wrote with Mötley away!
    Now that Mötley Crüe is over and DJ has quit Guns 'N' Roses they can solely concentrate on Sixx AM.  Which, from the sound of 'Prayers...' it sounds like that is pretty much what they have done up to since Sixx AM's last release.  One of the things the band utilized this time around was the help of two female back-up singers.  This gave the band a whole new dynamic that they did not have on previous releases.  This also aloud the band to multi-track multiple backing vocals.  Giving some of the songs vocal dynamics that I have not heard since the multi-tracking Brian Wilson did with The Beach Boys.  You can credit this to Michael since he produced and mixed the release. 'Prayers For The Damned Vol I' is Sixx AM's most ambitious work to date.  The execution of the songwriting on this release is pure perfection and I am including the stuff he wrote with Mötley.  This is one of the top five CD's of the year and I just can't wait to hear Vol. II!!!!