Sound — 7
In May of 2011 Santa Cruz, CA native James Durbin finished 4th on "American Idol". The former Domino's pizza delivery man impressed millions of fans each week with his dynamic and straospheric vocal range. However, what makes him significant is that Durbin is the first "metalhead" to not only compete on "AI" but finish in the Top 4. Every week, he repeated his mantra: "give metal a chance". Durbin also brought Judas Priest into the national conscience when he asked them to perform two songs with him on the finale. Durbin also performed w/ Zakk Wylde on a cover of Sammy Hagar's classic "Heavy Metal". In late November, Durbin released his debut album, "Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster". After the way he carried the flag for metal on "AI", some might expect that the album is 100% metal. It isn't exactly. Some songs, like the opener "Higher Than Heaven", "Outcast" (which features Mick f--king Mars), and the finale "Stand Up" are hard rock/metal material. There are a lot of ballads and pop songs. The album seems to be what the standard "American Idol" contestant is forced to release for a debut: a mostly pop album. Two songs, "Deeper" and "Screaming", approach Daughtry territory with their anthemic choruses and melodic rock sound. Throughout, Durbin's voice shines, since it is the focal point on the album.
Lyrics — 9
This section gets a 9 solely based on the golden pipes of James Durbin. When you hit notes that makes Steven Tyler's jaw drop, you know you have a range. His "screaming" is very Sebastian Bach. On "Deeper", he even shows his lower range. The lyrics are standard love fare, although "Screaming" addresses bullying.
Overall Impression — 8
"Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster" is a nice debut, but it's below what I was hoping for. The album is too poppy, and I was hoping James would be given more freedom to write harder rock songs. But, with Howard Benson producing, and outside songwriters including Ben Moody and Marti Frederiksen, what did you really expect? Nice debut, but hopefully James Durbin will get his way next time, it's much nicer to hear him sing rock n' roll instead of pop.