Six months ago, Los Angeles based hard-rock outfit, Sixx:A.M., released Prayers for the Damned and, as promised, the trio have just released the second volume of the double-album, Prayers for the Blessed. As presaged by the title, Prayers for the Blessed is the softer of the two albums, but that softness is not applied with any consistency, which leaves the listener wondering whether Sixx:A.M. might have been better off forgoing the double-album route, instead spending some extra time on track selection and releasing a single, definitive record.
Prayers for the Blessed opens with the solidly rockin’ Barbarians (Prayers for the Blessed), which features a ballistic guitar solo from DJ Ashba. It’s a little over the top, but in a guilty pleasure kind of way, and is only really let down by the lacklustre drums – and the weakness of the drum tracks is consistent complaint throughout the record. Wolf At Your Door’s chorus sits a little oddly with the rest of the song, a misstep that is repeated on The Devil’s Coming which pairs a stonking riff with a chorus that feels uncomfortably ‘poppy’ for the track.
The instrumental Catacombs cleaves the record in two, and is superfluous by both being unnecessary and pointless. It is the type of high-gain speed playing based on a classical riff that works well in a live setting, but it has no place on a studio release, and Prayers for the Blessed’s two halves aren’t nearly distinct enough to benefit from the demarcation. Sixx:A.M.’s attempts to fuse pop-infused chorus into hard-rock songs are successful on That’s Gonna Leave a Scar with the chorus’ pop inflections juxtaposing well with the verse’s solid rhythmic drive.
If you had to pick one song to summarise Prayers for the Blessed’s folly, it would have to be the inclusion of a cover of Badfinger’s 1970 hit, Without You – a song that has been recorded by no fewer than 180 artists in the 45 years since its first release. Interestingly Sixx:A.M. took the Harry Nilsson version as their template – the version Mariah Carey also used for her cover on Music Box – and they’ve opted to stick very close to what has been done before, raising the question “what’s the point”. That Sixx:A.M. have attempted to do something different is laudable, but when you’ve got decades of experience in music industry – as Ashba, Nikki Sixx, and James Michael all do individually – you are expected to stick the landing, which just doesn’t happen here.