Sixx:A.M. - The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

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Eleven Seven Music
Produced by DJ Ashba & James Michael

In a rather unprecedented move Nikki Sixx, co-founder, bassist and chief songwriter of World-conquering rock band Mötley Crüe has assembled a new band to record a soundtrack album for his autobiographical book 'The Heroin Diaries'.

This kind of record, and there are only similar concepts because nothing quite like this has been done before, always gets criticised for the same things, sometimes not entirely unfairly. If someone makes a "personal" record, they're accused of being inaccessible and self-indulgent. If they make a record too close in sound to the band they're most famous for being a part of, they're accused of trying to live off past glories. A varied record is disjointed and incoherent. And so on.

Nikki and co. have avoided all of these pitfalls. In between some of the songs Nikki hauntingly reads excerpts from his diaries (the book is based around an actual diary he wrote over the course of a year), but this doesn't provide a constant narrative. In fact he only reads five times, and two of those are the intro and outro tracks. Two excerpts in X-mas In Hell are separated by a grand intro piece with epic backing vocals, while the two in closer Life After Death are surrounded by a frenetic lead-guitar fuelled outro. The other three are during the rocked-up silent film music of Intermission, the intro to Heart Failure and a frantic counting of the ten days it took him to get clean during Girl With Golden Eyes. Each time adding to the music, rather than interrupting or distracting from it.

The rest of the story is told through a set of accessible hard rock songs with great riffs, solos and vocals, but very importantly a lot of extra touches that ensure none of them lose the sense of grandeur the spoken and instrumental parts have built up. The rest of Sixx:A.M. (and indeed the origin of the 'A' and the 'M') is former Beautiful Creatures guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist/guitarist/producer James Michael, and together with Sixx they have made some of the tightest, rich-sounding rock music around.

The brilliance of most of these songs, besides Michael's unbelievably emotive vocals, is that they could, quite easily, stand on their own without the rest of the story; first single Life Is Beautiful and second single Pray For Me being prime examples. They've all got their own identity but all flow into each other as necessary. Reading the book is also not strictly necessary to enjoy the CD.

The songs gradually lay out Nikki's path to sobriety, through the time he clinically died from an overdose (Heart Failure, with the brilliant lyric "I'm face down on the tracks/The train is coming fast/And it's not derailing") and his time in rehab (Van Nuys with it's ominous "Everybody gets high/Everybody gets low"), but take them on their own and they perhaps mean something else. Listen to Life Is Beautiful apart from the rest of the album, for instance, and it's easy to forget that it's part of a grander scheme.

The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack is, of course, a deeply personal record; a true soundtrack of Nikki's life. But more importantly for listeners, it's unquestionably album of the year. Nothing better has come out so far, and nothing else will. The year covered by the book and CD is like an episode of '24'. By the end it's impossible not to think "how could all of that happen to one person in that short time?" The good thing about Nikki's story, which is something '24' can't claim, is that it's not complete nonsense, and although no one else can possibly fully understand what he went through, he presents the most intimate picture he can in the most enjoyable way he knows how.

“ album of the year ”

Tracklist: X-mas In Hell / Van Nuys / Life Is Beautiful / Pray For Me / Tomorrow / Accidents Can Happen / Intermission / Dead Mans Ballet / Heart Failure / Girl With Golden Eyes / Courtesy Call / Permission / Life After Death

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2007, Albums, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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