Sound: By this point, it's no secret that Nikki Sixx has lived (and almost died) through some insane times. Behind The Music has touched upon it during the VH1 show's Motley Crue episode, but fans of Sixx are now getting a more up-close-and-personal glimpse of the bassist's personal memoirs. On Sept. 18 Sixx is releasing The Heroin Diaries, a book featuring the bassist's personal journals from 1986 and 1987. In an unusual step, Sixx has also released a soundtrack of the same name to accompany The Heroin Diaries. It covers a moody, often fascinating landscape, but there is a word of caution: It bares little resemblance to any Crue classic.
While the theme of the soundtrack is most definitely inspired by Sixx's personal journals, the songs are a group effort by the name of Sixx: A.M., a 3-piece featuring Sixx, James Michael, and DJ Ashba. The 13-track CD has dark, introspective aspects all the way through and never feels even slightly like Sixx's work with the Crue. While it follows a straightforward rock approach for the most part, the CD truly stands out during the moments that Sixx: A.M. attempts to be almost a rock opera that The Heroin Diaries is at it's most memorable.
Sixx starts the CD off with the spoken word X-Mas In Hell, an ode to a Christmas gone wrong. The bassist wryly captures a less-than-perfect Christmas in his past and it sets the perfect tone for the soundtrack. The album does need to create a bit more of a storyline because it's more than just a typical CD, and it does that well in the first track. There are several songs after the intro without Sixx's vocals, and the album does lose some of it's identity during the first half. Thankfully midway through the band gets things right and returns to the spoken word element. Although he's got some very strong musicians behind him, Sixx does need to step in the spotlight to make it truly feel like the CD is the soundtrack of his life.
One of the best examples of Sixx's identity shining through is the circus-like spoken word track Intermission. When you don't hear the sound of the carousel-like background or a simple piano, Sixx is uttering an excerpt from his journal. The band transitions nicely from the tune into Dead Man's Bullet, which has an over-the-top, rock opera type of feel to it. It's the times when Sixx: A.M. does attempt to broach Tommy territory or even Mozart's world (Life After Death) that they are the most impressive. // 8
Lyrics: In this particular case, the lyrics are probably the most important aspect of the CD. You can't really have a successful soundtrack to an autobiography or journal without meaningful lyrical content. Sixx doesn't disappoint and gets personal along the way. Dead Man's Bullet includes lyrics like, Oh, no: How could this happen to such an amazing young boy? I had my whole life ahead of me. While at times it feels like it's paying homage to Freddy Mercury's softer moments in Bohemian Rhapsody, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Vocalist James Michael has the chops and emotional delivery to due the lyrics justice.
There are some wittier, more cynical moments along the way, and thankfully those are usually spoken by Sixx. In the introduction to the primarily sung Heart Failure, Sixx wryly compares he and his buddies to the Drug Scouts of America. The moments that come directly from the journal are the most engaging and do show that Sixx has a knack for storytelling. // 10
Overall Impression: Vocalist James Michael is an exceptional talent and has the necessary dramatic touch to his vocals. In the course of just a few song lines, a variety of emotions just ooze out of Michael's voice. There are a lot of powerful singers, but Michael is one of the few who is able to convey the ups and downs that are chronicled in The Heroin Diaries book. The music underneath it all lags at times, but Michael still does what he can to make something out of it.
Sixx wisely chose to introduce his new band Sixx: A.M. by associating the trio with his new book -- and vice versa. While the book won't be released for about another month, it's hard to conclude whether the soundtrack truly enhances the journal entries. When it comes down to it, Sixx has led a very interesting life and it's almost a guarantee that the book will undoubtedly be a page-turner. All in all the CD does indeed have some memorable, introspective tracks (namely Van Nuys, Intermission, and Dead Man's Bullet) that take you on the kind of dark, personal trip one might hope for from the death-defying Nikki Sixx. // 9