Sixx: A.M.: DJ Ashba (guitar); Nikki Sixx (bass guitar); James Michael (drums). Additional personnel: Julia McDermott (keyboards); Nina Bergman, Dee Mclaughlin (background vocals). HEROIN DIARIES SOUNDTRACK is the musical counterpart to former Motley … see full wiki
The Bottom Line: A story that is tragic and hopeful at the same time. It is easily the album of the year. Done with intelligence and forethought it is outstanding.
As Nikki Sixx starts off this album by reading from his diary, you are instantly plunged into the horrible world of drug addiction. It is hard to fathom just what goes through the mind of a heroin addict but Sixx gives you a glimpse that is so brutally honest it makes you wonder just how someone could ever pick up a needle. Sixx takes you on a musical journey that is the compliment to his book of the same name. This is the story of a year in the life of a drug addicted rock star. It is not a pretty sight to behold. But it is one that is not without hope and in the end it leaves you thinking that even as bad as it can get, there is still hope as long as you are willing to do for yourself what needs to be done.
You have to give credit to the man who brought you this little gem. It is hard to let someone see the dark side of yourself but he lets us all in with the hope of helping those who might fall into the abyss that he, like many before, had created for himself. I guess the old saying; If it can help just one person, really rings true in this case. Some just have to hit the bottom before they can crawl up. Maybe Sixx can help a few from having to take that god awful trip.
Sixx starts out the album with an excerpt from his book. "Xmas In Hell," is just the tormented beginning of a story that definitely needed telling. Sixx's words speak for themselves:
"December 25th, 1986, Van Nuys, Merry Christmas Well that's what people say at Christmas, right? Except for normally they have somebody to say it to. They have friends and family. They haven't been crouched naked under a Christmas tree, with a needle in their arm like a crazy person in a mansion in Van Nuys. They're not out of their minds. They're not writing in a diary and they're definitely not watching their holiday spirit coagulate in a spoon. I didn't speak to a single person today/ I thought..why should I ruin they're fu**ing Christmas? I've started a new diary and this time I have a few new reasons. One, I have no friends left. Two, so i can read back and remember what I did the day before and three, so if I die, at least I leave a nice little suicide note of my life. It's just me and you , diary..Welcome to my fu**ing life."
With that the group breaks into a demented version of Carol of the Bells that is the essence of a tortured mind put to music. It is a relentless little glimpse into the horror of drug addiction and captures you right from the start. Luckily my drug of chose is music that can touch you in a way like Sixx has demonstrated here.
Sixx returns to his diary after this musical interlude to finish his thoughts on that Christmas day:
"Nobody would believe the sh*t that happens inside my head. It's haunted. Now I've come down from the drugs it seems like a sick play that I saw in a theater somewhere. Thirty minutes ago I could have killed somebody or better yet...myself."
With these words the pathetic life of a junkie unfolds before your ears. Sixx's terrifying tale is one that should be mandatory for anyone contemplating the use of these type of drugs.
Sixx's personal story is one filled with the cliched past of an abusive broken home where as a teenager he turned to drugs. He was a real delinquent who even got his first bass guitar by selling another guitar he stole from a music store. From this very troubled past to his fame with Motley Crue is a story in itself but this album is not the one of a bad boy who makes it big. No, it is the story behind the story. It is the dark side of rock and roll and one that is as compelling as it is horrifying.
Take the next cut from the album called "Van Nuys." It starts out with a haunting piano before vocalist James Michael(who's voice captures this tortured spirit perfectly) starts off with the stark truth of Sixx's existence:
"I don't want to die out here in the valley. Waiting for my luck to change I just want my dad to know that i finally made it."
Then a string section and an echoing chorus joins in as he sings:
He further laments his rough upbringing when he declares:
"I don't want my mom to know that I never loved my life and I sold my soul."
A searing guitar then enters which clearly defines the stark contrast in the mind of a junkie. And at this high moment the paranoia and realizations of his chosen life are capped off when Michael says to you:
"Well you don't know how to get back to your crawlspace Underneath the dirt and the rust and the waste."
It is at this point that Sixx realizes that he needs to stop this life or die. With a beautifully constructed piece of music he is begging for the help that seems impossible to find for a junkie who has hit the bottom.
There is a chapter in the Nikki Sixx story that really hits home. One time he OD'ed and was taken to the hospital. On the way there his heart stopped and he was revived with two shots of adrenaline. After being released from the hospital he goes home and snorts a line of heroin. Nikki said that when he realized what he was doing, it was at that point he knew he had to kick this habit. This is the basis of the next chapter by the band called "Life Is Beautiful."
This hard rocking tribute to the beginning of redemption by Sixx is one of the major highlights on the album and has become a hit single with it's powerful message.
"You can't quit until you try You can't live until you die You cant learn to tell the truth Until you learn to lie. Can't breath until you choke You gotta laugh when you're the joke, There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive."
Michael's is the perfect vocalist for this story and he delivers a wallop to you right between the eyes with this piece. He makes you feel the pain and the anguish that is tormenting Sixx at this moment in his life.
Reflecting on a woman who is trying to help him, Sixx through the voice of Michael shows the depths to which an addict will sink with his dramatic "Pray For Me."
"She lights a candle But she doesn't know why She wants to save me But I'm Barely alive My soul is thirsty I just wanna get high and Make her go away."
The metal onslaught echos the demented mind as Sixx proves how lonely the life of a junkie is as he pushes his loved ones away in search of the next fix. This song is as heavy as anything on the disc and with good reason as it relays the anxiety of drug addiction. It is a powerful thing and it takes equally powerful music to deliver the message.
The reflective piece "Tomorrow," is best described as a power ballad that is Sixx taking stock of his life and deciding that change is in order.
"Have you given into madness You're running out of places to hide Cuz everybody's got a reason To justify how they're feeling Maybe you should open your eyes Just look at yourself Do you like what you see Look at yourself Is this how it should be."
Sixx lets you inside his mind as he hits the road to recovery. It is a long hard road with many potholes along the way. But it is at least a start. And the band starts down that path with a great song to begin the journey.
One of the highlights of this disc is a very dynamic piece called "Accidents Will Happen." Not to be confused with the Elvis Costello song of the same name, this is a beautifully crafted piece dealing with the inevitable relapse of a drug addict. Few make it through without having this happen but when it does it usually comes with a realization of what they did helped by the clarity of healthy mind. Sixx and the band make you feel the anguish of a relapse while still giving hope of recovery as they say:
"Take some time Learn to breath And remember what it means To feel alive To Believe There's something more than what you see. I know there's a price for this But some things in life you must resist."
The message is clear. Don't ever give up. It is a heart wrenching moment on the album and they give you a truly enthralling song to capture it. This is good...and I mean really good stuff!
Nikki reads from his diary once more about what they mean to him. Looking back on what he had been through from the perspective of a lucid person he lets you know that recovery is a never ending process. As he puts it, this is only the "Intermission." This track then goes into a short instrumental where a scorching guitar by DJ Ashba puts what Sixx is saying into perspective. It is a terrific little bit of metal that screams that there is still a long way to go.
From there Sixx reflects back on his whole life with a dramatic flair that is more reminiscent of the work of a progressive group such as Iced Earth or Blind Guardian. Michael's reflects back on Sixx's childhood and his mistreatment by his father in the epic feeling "Dead Man's Ballet." From soaring metal to beautiful piano work this song takes you on the roller coaster ride that is the life of Nikki Sixx. This is musical storytelling at its best and remember that some of the best music created comes from the darkest places we have experienced. This is a piece that you would never expect from Nikki Sixx. It definitely packs a wallop that is as impressive as any music I have heard lately.
The band returns to the story of Sixx's OD and his short time death when he so aptly puts it "We're the drug scouts of America," in the song "Heart Failure." This crunching heavy rocker takes you beyond the realm of normal brain activity when you hear Sixx read about his mind set during and after this episode:
"Like I said to look into the eyes of death was intoxicating. Taking it into our lungs, laughing at ourselves where other's would probably cry and more importantly would probably just die. To stand face to face with your demons and not back down takes a constitution that most people just don't have. A life that's soiled with sex, drugs and rock n roll."
Then he went home and snorted a line of heroin. It is hard to figure out how normal thought can get so out of whack for someone who is obviously intelligent but the junkie will do about anything to get what he craves. Luckily I am just an addict for good rock and roll and Sixx is the pusher of some fine stuff this time around.
I always thought that Lou Reed gave the best description of drug addiction, that is until I heard "The Girl With Golden Eyes."
"She speaks to me in Persian Tells me that she loves me The girl with golden eyes. Though I hardly know her I let her in my veins And trust her with my life I wished I never kissed her 'Cause I just can't resist her."
This is sung almost like a lullaby as if to emphasize the effect of the drug. But the song dramatically changes as Sixx starts to read from his diary about the first days of methadone treatment. The music soars as the pain of drug withdrawal is brutally described in the diaries of Sixx. This is not an easy path to follow and this comes out in his reciting of what he had been through. This is gripping and tragic but it is at the same time optimistic as you can hear with the change in his voice as he starts to ween off the drug. There is no need for pictures to describe what has happened. The words and music speak for themselves.
One of the most infectious pieces on the album is the moody song "Courtesy Call." Starting out with the sounds of a phone off the hook and a relentless knocking on a door, it delves into a side of drug addiction that is all too common. Hard driving guitars belabor the point of how wrapped up in the high an addict becomes as he is oblivious to what is happening around him. Then the music reaches a crescendo as you hear the door being forced open and finding an OD'ed druggie laying there. This is not just rock and roll it is pure theater set to music and the main character is a tragedy that even Shakespeare would have thought beyond redemption. If this song doesn't leave you a little unnerved and a little bit unsettled, I can only say I hope you never have to deal with this caliber of emotional upheaval.
The bands final offering is the mesmerizing "Permission." Drawing to a grand conclusion as Michael sings:
"Well I close My eyes Remove each piece of armor one by one Inhale this moment deep into my lungs And make amends for all I've done. All of my devils are free at last All my secrets revealed And your permission is all I need to heal.
Swirling and majestic this is the song of hope and the light that is at the end of the tunnel. Free from the chains of addiction, Sixx can now see life in a different way. If this album is any indication, then that way is the best path for him to follow.
The album ends just as it begins with Sixx reading from his diary. After a brief uplifting instrumental, Nikki wraps it up with some final words that I will let you discover yourself. Just remember that there is "Life After Death."
I was totally impressed with the mind and the music of Nikki on this album. It takes some guts to tell the tale that he has and to do so with such honesty. Each song is taken from a chapter in his book and the telling of it here only makes you want to go and grab his autobiography as soon as you can. In a time when we are being inundated with the lurid stories of some of our most famous rock stars, Sixx tells his tale with a brutal honesty that only makes you feel for him even more.
This is a must have album.
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