Sixx: A.M. have been successful from their inception, with their 2007 debut single “Life is Beautiful” peaking at No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart, followed by a number of other hits over the past nine years. Not bad for a “side project” band.

The trio of James Michael, Nikki Sixx and DJ Ashba now has more time to tour and focus on Sixx: AM with Motley Crue’s farewell tour now finished and Ashba’s exit from Guns N’ Roses last year.

Their creative juices are really flowing, as their new album Prayers for the Damned is the first half of a double album, with the second half expected later this year. Sixx: A.M have always had a knack for writing anthemic songs, and that is evident right out of the gate with the opening track “Rise.”

Michael gives an explanation of the theme of the song, which has already climbed into the Top 10, saying, “Throughout history, some of the most dramatic changes have occurred when people reject the status quo and demand change. ‘Rise’ is about how we find ourselves at a global tipping point and how it is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders.”

The album balances heavy songs like “Rise,” “Can’t Stop" and “I’m Sick” with more introspective tracks such as “Better Man,” which begins quietly before kicking into full power ballad mode. “When We Were Gods’ is similarly dynamic, going from subdued to fist-pumping.

Michael is a talented vocalist with a wide range and distinctive sound. From softer crooning to dramatic singing to full-throated belting, he has all the bases covered. All of those styles are on display on the album closer “Rise of the Melancholy Empire.”

In addition, Michael does an excellent job producing and mixing the record. The sound is modern and crisp with plenty of power and depth. In addition to his work on Sixx: A.M.’s albums, Michael has also produced for artists including Papa Roach and Scorpions.

Prayers for the Damned sets the bar high for the album’s second half. Not only is it packed with numerous potential hits, it’s also laden with passion and emotion, a combination not easy to find.

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