Truth be told I haven’t been excited over a SIXX:A.M. release since This Is Gonna Hurt, which is really the only album I’ve been in love with from this band, so much so it was in my Top Five of 2011. “Oh My God” remains to this day my favorite song they’ve ever recorded. And that’s not to say I haaaated everything else, I just found Modern Vintage to be boring and uninspired, and Prayers For the Damned, Vol. 1 to be pretty good, just not worthy of devoting time to writing up. Well that all stops now with Prayers For the Blessed, Vol. 2 (out now, Eleven Seven Music),the second, and much better half of this Damned/Blessed double album whose two parts were released within seven months.
Opening track “Barbarians (Prayers for the Blessed)” is heavy, catchy, and ballsy just where it needs to be, and the thing that really stands out is drummer Dustin Steinke’s playing. The dude can flat-out bang where he needs to. “We Will not Go Quietly” is the tune that made me hot on this record because DJ Ashba’s guitar and James Michael’s vocals mesh together in a near-perfect rock anthem. “Maybe It’s Time” switches things up and crosses over into ballad territory, something Michael excels at vocally, with the band following suit.
“The Devil’s Coming” really shines on this album because it’s got a great build-up and an anthemic hook that swings for the fences, and “That’s Gonna Leave a Scar” does too, due to it being the sickest, most aggressive track on the disc. This is one of those moments when Michael, Ashba, Steinke, and Nikki Sixx totally nail it. That said, I really wasn’t a fan of “Wolf At Your Door” or the cover of BADFINGER’S “Without You”. The former really didn’t stand out at all, while the latter, let’s face it, has been done to death for nearly 50 years, with only Harry Nilsson’s 1971 version being a true classic, even surpassing the original.
Fear not though, because “Suffocate” was excellent with a hearty mix of sing-along chorus and melodic guitars. “Riot In My Head” has a misleading title, because it’s a rather mellow song for the most part before it gets loud on the hooks. The highest point of this record though, comes in closer “Helicopters”. It’s moody, dark, bleak, yet uplifting all at the same time, and is without a doubt right up there with the aforementioned “Oh My God” as an all-time favorite. Ashba’s solo is extremely emotional and fluid. At the end of the day Prayers For the Blessed is some of the best work SIXX:A.M. have done in years and I’m glad I gave this one a listen. You should, too!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Helicopters”, “We Will Not Go Quietly”, “The Devil’s Coming”, “That’s Gonna Leave a Scar”, “Suffocate”