Sound — 7
Nikki Sixx's musical legacy with Motley Crue is undeniable at this point in the game, but the bassist continues to expand upon his repertoire with his latest project Sixx A.M. The trio, which is rounded out by vocalist James Michael and guitarist DJ Ashba, can never be accused of borrowing from the Crue's trademark sound, but they do tend to follow in the footsteps of the mainstream hard rock that is flooding the airwaves these days. On one hand Sixx A.M.'s sophomore record "This Is Gonna Hurt" doesn't lack big choruses, which for some will be enough to keep their interesting. The problem is that the band's sound is just a bit too watered down in the end, and that's not even taking into consideration the multiple ballads on the CD. The record kicks off with the title track, which is a fairly straightforward tune featuring a chorus that is akin with a Seether vibe. While DJ Ashba's solo work is impressive, the core verses/choruses don't throw out any huge surprises. The first single "Lines Of The Beautiful People' contains a sing-along-worthy chorus, and vocalist Michael does effectively show off his impressive range. In many ways Michael's vocals have a similar quality to Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy, who currently does stand out as one of the best frontman around in terms of power/range. There is pretty heavy load of mellow tracks and ballads, which tends to give "This Is Gonna Hurt" (a title that almost begs for aggression) a pretty lackluster feel. "Are You With Me?' and "Oh My God" would fit in on any standard rock station, and those tracks could actually be deemed pop rock if we're completely honest. Not that we should make that an issue of good/bad, but the album does seem to be overly saturated with selections along those same lines. Because Sixx A.M. utilizes Michael's vocals well, it's completely understandable why they would feature stripped-down ballads like "Smile" which is basically Michael's vocals, acoustic guitar, subtle strings, and only the slightest percussion. Emotions do tend to drive "This Is Gonna Hurt", and "Smile" keeps a heartfelt, honest approach without feeling the need to stick in a big chorus at the end. One other interesting song of note is "Goodbye Friends", which although begins in a fairly mellow way, eventually morphs into some hybrid of HIM and Muse.
Lyrics — 7
Quite a few tracks have a storytelling quality, whether in the pensive "Oh My God" ("She was born at 6 a.m. on new year's day; In an alley right at the heart of where the homeless children play") or the La-La-Land-gone-wrong offering "Deadlihood" ("The sun is shining; Though everything's dying; Your stars burned out for good; Somewhere in Hollywood"). The themes do seem a little predictable and expected, and that actually is slightly distracting in the end. Given the fact that Nikki Sixx has once again written an accompanying book to go along with "This Is Gonna Hurt", the prose might provide a bit more originality.
Overall Impression — 7
There isn't a huge leap from the first to the second record, but that also means that the band's original fans shouldn't be disappointed. One certainly doesn't expect Sixx to recreate what he's produced with Motley Crue over the years, but there aren't too many all-out hard rock songs on the new record. And again, we should judge an album by its title, but it would be a bit more satisfying to have at least a few more in-your-face, riff-driven tracks to truly make "This Is Gonna Hurt" complete.