Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster review by James Durbin

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  • Released: Nov 21, 2011
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (6 votes)
James Durbin: Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster
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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.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    slowner123
    James is being smart bringing different elements of rock/metal slowly back to the broad audience. It's been ages since I listen to rock. Got tired of the same old rock sound out there. James' album is refreshing. It's making me crazy about rock again! I'm giving Rock/Metal back a chance!
    sabbia
    While I agree that this album as a whole leans somewhere between hard rock and "other" (difficult to classify most of the songs, I wouldn't say "pop" either), James himself said he wanted the album to be accessible to *all* his Idol fans, which is a very difficult tasks given the wide range of musical tastes. But, for any who appreciates rock music from a myriad of subgenres, this album is an incredible mix. The many musical elements scattered throughout give this album excitement and freshness. I never get bored of it even after listening to it nearly nonstop since its release 3 weeks ago. BTW, if you want a taste of the direction I believe James will be taking in the future.....purchase "Liberate" and "Back for More" that are bonus tracks on iTunes from MOABD. Those are by far the 2 best tracks of the entire album and will give the hard rockers the edge they crave.
    mustaine42
    I really agree with Sabbia. The bonus tracks are so awesome. I thought it would be a little bit harder than it was as a whole, but I found myself enjoying the entire album. Oh, and whoever played the solo on Higher Than Heaven has won me over. Kickass skills.
    lightdark
    It's not necessarily that he's being smart about it, it's just that pretty much the whole album was already written for him to sing, he didn't really get much of a chance to write any. (although it is a good idea about the different elements.)