Overall Score: 9.5/10 Emotional investment: 10/10 Riffage: 10/10 Replayability: 9/10 Pros: Outstandingly powerful and emotional Cons: 'Everything Went to Hell' will have you reaching for Du Hast instead
Clawing out of its cage, ‘Prayers for the Damned’ is Sixx:A.M.’s phenomenal ode to the personal battles that keep them alive. The first half of a double-edged sword from the rockers, this fourth studio venture hands centre stage to the darker side of James Michael’s emotional range, backed as always by the familiar stellar tones of Sixx and Ashba.
Powering through the chugging groove and glittering bassline of passionate opener ‘Rise’ lies an outstanding riff of air-punching quality, while ‘You Have Come to the Right Place’ draws on the strong rock community to find solidarity. “Bring on the shame, bring on the pain,” calls out the unapologetic ‘I’m Sick’ – if this incredibly catchy riff rock is an ailment, you’ll be glad it’s contagious.
There’s true unbounded helplessness in the title track’s tones, reaching out for divine intervention alongside an impeccable instrumental performance. Armed with a heart-wrenching solo and the band’s most solemn vocal conviction to date, ‘Better Man’ warms the soul right before ‘Can’t Stop’ grasps its icy heart and confronts with an almost Manson-esque grinding.
Laced with a lethal dose of determined menace, ‘When We Were Gods’ adds a seductive lull to the mix compounded by the resigned fate of ‘Belly of the Beast’. While a little repetitive on record, it’s sure to be a roof-raiser in a foot-stomping live environment but doesn’t really hold a candle to its complex neighbours.
With its slightly Du Hast-like opening riff, ‘Everything Went to Hell’ places the raw authenticity of betrayal on track, right down to the female soundbite begging for forgiveness. Even the gravelly electrics of ‘The Last Time (My Heart Will Ever Hit the Ground)’ sound beaten down and disillusioned, short of James Michael’s voice cracking. Bouncing back in epic fashion, however, closer ‘Rise of the Melancholy Empire’ grows defiant in its almost orchestral arrangement and draws the curtain in the most elaborate manner.
Tugging on your emotions throughout, Sixx:A.M.’s ‘Prayers for the Damned’ is a suitably heavenly collection of heartfelt anthems.
‘Prayers for the Damned’ is out now on Eleven Seven Music.