First, let me clear up a few misconceptions, as they all use nicknames but can be rather misleading. Andy ‘Sixx,’ the vocalist, is likely named after the amount of post-production engineers required to record his vocals. Christian Coma, the drummer, believes in worshipping himself (as do the rest of the band coincidentally), which is of course a trademark of Satanism (although sometimes you might also wonder if he is a little comatose back there). Jinxx and Pitt form the guitar section, nothing wrong there, and despite the stripper name, Ashley Purdy is in fact a dude. You’ve always gotta be careful these days with so many celebrities seeming to enjoy public cross-dressing, though fortunately, he’s not particularly good at it and largely comes off just looking like a stereotypical butch lesbian. The genre, too, often seems to be confused, many calling them ‘Metal’ which is a rather loose definition. And by loose, I mean wrong. Neither are they really Glam, though for some unknown reason they do try to emulate those awful 80s style photos that we now chuckle over, asking ourselves, ‘did people really think that looked good?’ and the likes of Pantera still refuse to acknowledge ever existed. Instead what they actually do is take certain elements from modern emo (the whining and crying mainly) and the rest from hard rock (sadly I hear a lot of Nickleback influences), combining the two to form the core of their sound.
Let us begin with asking what it is they didn’t screw up, shall we? The bassist can’t be heard at any point doing anything remotely of interest, simply trying his best to follow the rhythm guitar. The drums manage to keep a steady beat, sometimes quite impressively and energetically so, but just as often this is not the case. Instead, the only real surprise came from the twin guitar work, winners of a Revolver Golden God award in April this year. Now I wouldn’t go as far as that, but I was genuinely impressed to discover a basic level of competency; each song does manage to contain a catchy riff and basic scales-based solo. There’s plenty of little flourishes and fills, throwing out a quick swept section here or there. I would even go as far to say that despite my prejudice, they really are moderately decent guitarists and undeserving of the hatred the band attracts, displaying that AC/DC sensibility where they never risk trying anything too adventurous from a compositional point of view because that might be difficult, and it’s best to just stick to what they know. If this review were to end here we could conclude they were an average rock band, throwing out a couple of catchy riffs but doing nothing out of the ordinary. Sadly it doesn’t, and now I’m tasked at explaining why the vocalist has about as much talent as Justin Bieber but with less balls (at least he vomited on stage when he hit puberty and had to hear his own music).
Moving on swiftly from comments of how much I despise the ‘My Chemical Romance’ brand of whiny, annoying tone that he sports, it’s a sad fact of modern music that so many vocalists utilise autotune. Some merely clip the edges, erasing those tiny inconsistencies where the voice naturally fluctuates. Others use it for effect. Here it’s used because he’s tone deaf. I can’t criticise him too heavily as a person for being unable to sing in key as I’m certainly no better (so don’t go mistaking this for an attack against his person), but I’m also aware of this fact and am not the vocalist for a major label band. It seems like some sort of cruel joke that nobody let him in on, everyone snickering behind his back until a label signed them up and suddenly they realised they were now stuck with him. It must have been a difficult decision for the producers whether or not to make him sound like T-Pain, trying to cover up his incompetence by going ‘we wanted to make him sound like a Dalek,’ or to get him to rap and turn them into another ‘Brokencyde’ (if this name is unfamiliar, for the love of god, don’t acquaint yourself), but ultimately they decided not to and just prayed nobody would notice. Well sorry guys, I did.
There is, however, one thing they did do which genuinely does feel original. The music’s lyrical content is less self-deprecating as with emo, or empowering as with hard rock, and is instead oddly religious in a way perhaps only ‘Stryper’ was before them – but don’t be expecting this band to be throwing bibles into the crowd. The religious themes don’t seem aimed so much at pre-existing religions as much as they are in deifying themselves; ‘Saviour’ in particular having that condescending tone of ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re a lonely retard without any friends, we love you, but only if you agree to buy all our stuff.‘ They’ve found themselves not just a part of the ‘scene’ market, pandering to those who follow the trends, but have gone a step further and intentionally given themselves a brand to follow. They prey on those who seek to join a club; to gain a sense of inclusion in their mutual obsession, and they do it on a scale that I’ve never seen before. It’s been manufactured like a product to be marketed and advertised; a product designed from research whose sole intention is to tick as many boxes as possible with the minimal effort. No doubt it has been successful, but it bears more resemblance to a form of brainwashing; a musical form of ‘Scientology’ creating a small cult in the process rather than any other legitimate form of art. Certainly, we can then add an inflated sense of ego to their short list of accomplishments, and one can only hope the Christians catch on to the face paint and self-constructed church they’ve established, assume its the devil as they always do, and tear them a new one. For once, I can actually agree with them when they cry, ‘abomination.’
‘Set the World On Fire’ was self described as the greatest rock n’ roll record ever made – actually that quote is even worse with Sixx, of all people, calling it (and I’m taking a direct quote now), “the best album anybody’s ever made.” Sadly physics is not their strong point, as every good physicist knows flames require oxygen, and in the vacuum of talent surrounding the vocalist there’s none of that, and any matchstick flame would find itself extinguished by his mere presence. This album would have difficulty setting alight a gas station if it was being played by a suicide bomber driving an oil tanker into it’s side; this is a completely fire-free zone. Instead, the best description can be found in the closing moments of their very own video for ‘Perfect Weapon‘ (from their debut album admittedly, and don’t worry, I’ve skipped past all the actual music), where an army of pre-teens dressed like their idols chant their name in a brainwashed cult-like fashion. If you’ve hit puberty and still like them, you should probably seek psychiatric help before they break out the ‘special punch’ and you discover what that track ‘ritual’ was really about.
Highlight: Love Isn’t Always Fair (we get 40 seconds of a pretty good intro before the vocalist enters and ruins it).