The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack [10th Anniversary Edition] [CD]
Personnel: James Michael (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, programming); DJ Ashba (guitar, keyboards, programming); Nikki Sixx (keyboards, programming); Tony Palermo (drums); Melissa Harding (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: James Michael.
Now, this is an interesting album! Designed as a companion piece to Mtley Cre bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx's autobiography, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack -- based on journals he kept during the peak of his drug abuse in the '80s, now supplemented by commentary by his friends and the man himself -- is a genuinely odd and oddly moving record, a weird pileup of pained spoken word diary entries, operatic metal, L.A. sleaze, grimy electro-industrial beats, the stray power ballad, and circus music, all delivered by Sixx's new band, Sixx: A.M., which is fronted by vocalist James Michael, who also produced and wrote the album with Sixx. Musically, this album exists out of time -- it certainly doesn't sound like a throwback to the Cre and, despite the echoes of She Wants Revenge on "Pray for Me," it doesn't sound modern, either. In that sense, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack is the product of a true, distinctive artistic vision -- one that might not be coherent, but it's certainly compelling, both in its open-wound honesty and often baffling mash-ups of styles. Even if Sixx: A.M. dabble in modern textures here, this never sounds like a desperate attempt to sound modern, since everything in this music is designed to mirror Sixx's voyage into heroin hell. It's a concept album and, as such, it plays as an extended suite instead of a collection of songs, but that's the appeal of this record: it's an art rock confessional, quite unlike anything Sixx -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has done before. Which means that even if The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack isn't quite to your specific tastes -- it might be too gloomy for Cre fans -- it nevertheless is hard not to admire the risks Nikki Sixx takes on this record, or the strange success he achieves here, either. [A 10th Anniversary Edition of The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack was released in 2017, with the CD edition including three "re-imagined" tracks.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine