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Album Review: Pretty Maids - Louder Than Ever

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 9:05 PM


Pretty Maids – Louder Than Ever

Written by Jim Sky

 

The fourteenth studio album by Danish metal-rock group Pretty Maids, titled “Louder Than Ever”, appears as something of a ‘Best Of’. The majority of the record features previously released, re-recorded work, which is bound to delight fans, while an absence of defining 80’s rock elements (exemplified by early classics such as “Night Danger”) finds replacement with an unapologetically modern Euro-metal production.


Listeners know what they’re getting from the get-go; new track “Deranged” opens with a bang, leaving little room to speculate on the tone and feel of subsequent songs. Think down-tempo, distorted guitar coupled with themes of religion and madness, compressed snare with liberal lashings of double-kick and treble-saturated solo shredding combining to provide a pastiche of Iron Maiden, Metallica and Motley Crue on the tougher end of the sonic spectrum. Vocalist Ronnie Atkins adds the most European element, displaying a depth and width of timbre outshining many thin-sounding American competitors from his time. It isn’t hard to see where some of Atkins’ Scandinavian heirs gained their inspiration, and his powerful range hasn’t diminished with time.


Tracks “Playing God” and “Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth” are a truly fantastic nod to Poison/Maiden/Deth that are bound to help fans relive their halcyon days as metal heroes. A reminder to fans that lyrics like “masters of insanity” are still super-fun before the inevitable softer rock-ballad appears in track four, a previously unreleased title named “My Soul To Take”. Considering it’s a new offering and the level of power projected by the first three tracks, this track was an early an unexpected departure. The record quickly regains momentum however, as “He Who Never Lived”, “Virtual Brutality” and “Tortured Spirit” immediately return to the realms of gritty guitar, big bass and tougher vocals.


Eight tracks in and the record slows down again, power-ballad “With These Eyes” easily finding a different home on a hypothetical Poison record. Nonetheless it’s an enjoyable listen, as added aural modernity on the production side creates a well-crafted and welcome entry to new song “Nuclear Boomerang”; a triplet-laden Euro-metal powerhouse that swings the record closer to Marco Hietala fronting Nightwish than earlier eighties nods. Keyboard arpeggios over crunchy six string licks continue the band’s theatrical flourish with “Snakes In Eden”, before “Wake Up To The Real World” cuts the drama short. The penultimate piece is the only straight, hard-rock number on the album, featuring a delicious filter mixed across the song’s trademark solo.


Closing track “A Heart Without A Home” comes as something of a small surprise. Pretty Maids choose to end ‘Louder Than Ever’ with a guitar-dominant ballad. An apparent attempt to meaningfully end a mostly kick-ass heavy metal-rock album may be deliberate, with softer, newer material marking the exit point on the record. Overall, “Louder Than Ever” isn’t groundbreaking in terms of genre, theme, production or maturity but long-time fans will find a nice addition to their Pretty Maids collection. Meanwhile, first-time listeners can enjoy a retelling of classic Danish metal-rock that really is “Louder Than Ever”.


Categories: Album Reviews

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