Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sixx AM - The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

As I’m usually delightfully late to most parties, Sixx AM is no exception. So while, the companion soundtrack to Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries has been available for public consumption for quite some time already, I’m only just now getting around to writing about it. There are a couple of reasons for this that involve podcasting and the resetting of iPods and the like, but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I recently was reintroduced to Sixx AM in the form of a video for the song Accidents Can Happen that was included with a guitar magazine I bought for the Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen interview it held in its glossy pages. Little did I know the real jewel of the purchase would be a music video on an otherwise instructional DVD.

I had listened to Sixx AM months before and realized at my first listen just how special the album was. From that point, I was determined to write about it…until I didn’t. That DVD brought The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack back into my awareness with a vengeance and I haven’t stopped listening to it since.

The book that is the jumping off point for the thirteen songs that make up the album, which admittedly I have not yet read (I’m waiting for the paper back as the hardcover is a tad expensive), chronicles Nikki Sixx, bassist and founding member of the rock band Motley Crue, and his decent into the throws of a raging Heroin addiction that led to his near death by overdose several times. The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack provides a musical counterpoint to the words written by the talented musician and former junkie.

Compositionally and musically, the album is dark and full of the imagery of one man’s struggle with the demons of his own creation. There is the constant feeling as the tracks follow the album’s course that Sixx’s struggle could, and most likely will, end badly at any point…and that is even given the fact that we as listeners already know the outcome.

This is not a Motley Crue album, or one that in any way resembles any of the other projects that Sixx has been involved in. For obvious reasons, the material is infinitely more personal and revealing than any lyric on Theater of Pain or Shout at the Devil ever was. No punches are pulled and while the constraints of writing a lyric that fits into a three minute song fundamentally require a measure of gloss to work, that veneer is ultimately exceedingly thin and transparent enough to allow an unencumbered view of the inner workings of what was, at the time, a very dark soul.

The musicianship of The Heroin Diaries is first rate; showcasing not only the bass work of Sixx but also the guitar and vocal abilities of longtime Sixx collaborators DJ Ashba and James Michael respectively. Both Ashba and Michael are talented audio professionals who have worked with a long list of other artists in capturing their visions in the recording studio in various capacities from songwriter to producer. That fact no doubt helped shape the albums more modern and cutting edge sound not to mention the excellent sonic quality of the songs themselves.

A companion album to a print work seems like a risky enough undertaking on its own. However given the subject matter, the frankness of the point of view and the new sonic ground that Nikki Sixx decided to cover in this album; the possibility of it falling flat and in spectacular fashion were almost guaranteed. That doesn’t happen though and it is because of the chances that are taken with Sixx AM as a band. As he did with his life as captured in tabloids, the book and the album, Sixx once again manages to somehow balance himself and his art on the edge of the blade that has so many times cut him. In reaching beyond what was a safe place and pushing the boundaries of his musical abilities Nikki Sixx, along with DJ Ashba and James Michael, have created a piece of art that is honest, engrossing, memorable and well worth a repeated listen.

1 comment:

guitar maniac said...

ive listened to the heroin diaries cd so much and love it. each time i listen to it its like listening for the first time.