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So at some point in the 2000s members of the arguably already dead glam outfit Motley Crue decided they wanted to bring back their original singer and give it another go. After a hand full of singles we get Saints of Los Angeles featuring Motley Crue's classic vocals and attitude mixed with modern hard rock guitar tones, riffs and lyrics about the tough street life. Oh boy, talk about about bad ideas.
I'll cut straight to the point. Motley Crue has probably never been considered the go to metal band by any group of metal enthusiasts, without tracks like 'Live Wire' to prove that they can lay down some serious thrashy riffing if they truly wanted or 'Shout at the Devil' which wears clear Judas Priest inspirations we'd probably all be content shoving them in a pop influenced hard rock category. These metal elements did not carry over for Saints of Los Angeles. The most headbanging songs here such as the title track and "Mutherfucker of the Year" are just modern hard rock, as if a certain member forgot that he wasn't making a Sixx A.M. record. The riffs are too predictable, jumpy and in the case of title track filled with guitar effects to pick up the slack. So in these ways the record is a step down from other material and really begging to be passed over, just as I have passed over Sixx A.M. ever since I was exposed to their radio singles. Really though, I think the difference ends with riffs and lyrics being that as far as vocals go Vince still delivers his nasally singing and as far drumming goes you still get the classic rock thump and thud beat, sadly never being played quickly enough to be considered a skank beat.
However while the lyrics still aren't a strong suit or anything to write home about they also cut out a lot of the sleaze factor and cheese making the power ballad "Animal in Me" into a listen that's actually pretty decent as well as making the tough guy act on the title track somewhat believable . Also, while the riffs may be a weak point here the solos are still decent. So while it certainly isn't my favorite thing ever, or even by Motley Crue it's still redeemable to get some playtime every once in awhile.
Motley Crue had experienced some turmoil following the release of their biggest album, Dr. Feelgood, in 1989. Their lead singer, Vince Neil, either quit or was fired from the group in 1992, and the band subsequently brought in replacement John Corabi, and released a self-titled album in 1994. However, the album wasn't such a hit with fans, and nor was the singer, who was out of the band by 1996. Vince Neil was back in the picture, but the next album, Generation Swine, was a relative commercial flop also. Some of the material had been written by Corabi before he left, and there was tension in the group which would eventually prompt drummer Tommy Lee to quit. They hired Randy Castillo, released another flop of an album, New Tattoo, and after that, Castillo passed away and the band lay dormant for some time, until 2004, when Lee rejoined, which brings us to this point. Their "comeback" album, Saints of Los Angeles, was released in 2008.
Is it a comeback that proves that the band can still write fresh material and tackle new things, or is it the sound of a band trying to recapture those glory days by writing songs that are re-hashes of the attitude and ideas of the band back in the day? I'm afraid it's more the latter than the former. Pretty much every song is about the typical sex, drugs and rock and roll clichéd crap. Downing the whiskey, having sex with women, being an animal. There's nothing really new or worthwhile to be found here.
The music itself sounds like Motley Crue trying to write music exactly like their 80s output, but this vision suffers in part due to the modern production and the songwriting process itself, which just makes it bland and pale in comparison to their classic material, especially seeing as the production makes the band sound less unique. Every song is written by bassist Nikki Sixx and his chums James Michael, DJ Ashba (both of whom are Sixx's Sixx:AM bandmates) and Marti Frederiksen. Sixx is only interested in giving us what he THINKS we want to hear, not what we actually want to hear. For a start: Nikki, what band are you writing for? This isn't Sixx:AM. This is MOTLEY CRUE! Maybe if you let your bandmates have more songwriting input like you used to, this could have been better. It seems like James Michael and Marti Frederiksen (along with Desmond Child) do a lot of songwriting for 70s/80s bands who feel that they need outside writers to "enhance" their material. Well, guess what? It doesn't enhance it. It just makes your stuff sound more clichéd and bland, and your band sounds less unique. This is why I think, for example, Scorpions' Humanity: Hour I, could have been better than it was. But anyway, let's get back on topic.
The band members seem good at playing their instruments (assuming it was the actual band members and not, say, Sixx:AM and/or Josh Freese) so it's a shame it's put to little use here. When I first heard the album around 2 years ago, I did get into the title track and "The Animal in Me", but do I listen to these songs anymore? No, no I don't.
If you're a Motley Crue fan who has yet to hear this album, by all means check it out if you must, but don't be surprised if you don't get as much excitement out of it as the band's first five albums. Saints of Los Angeles is the sound of aged rockers who probably don't get along that well and are mainly in it for the cash, collaborating with overrated outside writers to write songs with immature lyrics about drugs and sex (it doesn't sound cool coming from a group of 45-55 year olds) whilst sounding like most mediocre metal bands of the modern day. And actually, I much prefer both the self titled album and Generation Swine to this. Perhaps it's about time the "boys" threw in the towel. Nikki, it's all well and good saying you want the band to retire at a high point, but you are way past your "high point", and doing nothing but just talking about it won't get it done any quicker.
Saints of Los Angeles (From now on will be called SOLA) is the first Motley album of all new material since New Tattoo in 2000. It is also the first with the original lineup since 1997's Generation Swine. But do the Crue still got it? The anwser is yes. Yes they do. What we have here is a collection of sleazy rockers that would not sound out of place back in the late 80's/ early 90's.
SOLA is a concept album based off of the best selling book The Dirt, which is the bands autobiography. The themes of the songs go right along with the book and tell tales of drug abuse, partying, getting signed to Elektra, the music industry, and simply fucking shit up. The band also refinds the sound it helped invent on this album. Gone are the groove inspired tunes of the Crab era and the industrial dabbling of the late 90's. In its place are high octane rockers in the vein of Dr feelgood.
You can see them trying to bring back some things they did on earlier albums like Feelgood and Shout with the spoken word intro LAMF that leads into a rocking tune. Even though this album is a return to form it sounds modern as well. One songs even sounds like something Avenged Sevenfold would have written. But that's what you have to do to survive and stay consistent. Also almost every song on the album was co written by Nikki's band mates in Sixx AM. This is probably what led it to sound more modern but Nikki can do that on his own, he is a master songwriter.
From start to finish this album rocks you to the ground and doesn't let up for a second. This is music to snort coke to, to bang girls to, and to crash your car to! If your a Motley fan and you don't enjoy this album from start to finish you just aren't a Motley fan and should go home now.