PRETTY MAIDS – Pandemonium

PandemoniumDanish hard rockers Pretty Maids seem to be one of those bands that don’t know how or when to quit – a good thing for us listeners. Despite being so close to a major breakthrough, they never ever put the band to rest. They released their first EP in 1983, an E.P. that promised a lot and made some waves around Metal communities around mostly Europe and Scandinavia. They gained a reputation as a high-class Hard Rock band when they released their debut long player Red Hot And Heavy back in 1984 and they were extremely close to breaking it really big with their most popular album Future World in 1986, opening for big acts like Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake. But for some reason, their big break never came. It would take them three years – an extremely long time back in the 80’s –  to release the phenomenal follow-up Jump The Gun and in 1990 it was like people had forgotten about the band. But Pretty Maids kept going and kept releasing albums and touring and they always kept the quality of the songs and musicianship very high. And with they I mean singer Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer, because the band has gone through numerous of line up changes, leaving Ronnie and Ken as the core of the band and as long they are there, there will be a Pretty Maids as long as they want it to be – Hammer and Atkins being the main song writers and has been so since day one. It was now four years since we got a sign of life from Pretty Maids, then with the album Wake Up To The Real World (2006), an album that was also a kind of come back as its predecessor, the only underwhelming album from the band – Planet Panic – came out in 2002. That said, the band has never released one bad album. In fact, they haven’t even been close to one and that is certainly the case with this, their 12th album, as well. The main things with Pretty Maids’ music is diversity and quality. A Pretty Maids album contains everything from Metal to Hard Rock to Pop to ballads which make their albums diverse and even though you know what you’re getting when you buy a Pretty Maids CD, they never become predictable. Being a big Pretty Maids fan, I’m always a bit nervous before listening to a new release from them, always hoping that this particular new album won’t be the one when they lose it and record a pile of shite. I’m pretty sure that will never happen, but when you have waited for four years for a new product, you really want it to be something special and not just good. But it is with the usual high expectations that I let Pretty Maids’ first record in four years attack me.

The record starts with the title track that holds an intro that reminds me of the intro to “Future World” and when “Pandemonium” breaks loose, it’s a melodic metal attack we get on our hands – a brilliant tune and probably the opener on the following tour. Also on the heavier side we have ”I.N.V.U.”, a pretty brutal groover that also hold a really catchy chorus. Another live favourite, I’m guessing. First single “Little Drops Of Heaven” follows and it is just amazing, a pop song that would be a huge hit in a prefect world. I’m completely floored – this must be one of the best AOR tracks ever written! “One World, One Truth” and “Final Day Of Innocence” both has the brilliant mix of a really heavy foundation with the best melodies a hard rock album can offer, especially the latter has an amazing pop feel. ”Cielo Drive” (written about the Charles Manson murders) and ”It Comes At Night”, are both brilliant songs that mixes aggression with a killer melody. Both songs are really heavy – Heavy Metal actually, but they never give in on the melodies and the finesse. Of course we get the compulsory rock ballad, but that should be read in a good way, because ”Old Enough To Know” is a fantastic ballad. The way Pretty Maids write ballads, there’s enough cheese to sell, but at the same time, they never get cheesy at all, if you get my drift. Powerful ballads are Pretty Maids recipe. ”Beautiful Madness” is a commercial hard rock song with a melody catchier than a STD and could easily be released as a single. The song reminds me of “Invisible Chains” from their 2000’s Carpe Diem record. As a final, ”Breathless”, an amazing pop-metal hit song will leave us with all smiles. There is also a bonus track, a remix on “It Comes At Night” – totally unnecessary, if you ask me. It’s not that different to the original version. I’m not sure if anybody will even hear the difference.

It only takes one spin to realise that Pretty Maids has once again released a high quality record, but this time we get something extra as this might just be one of Pretty Maids best albums ever. Atkins and Hammer never seems to run out of brilliant hooks and melodies and the riffs from Hammer are just amazingly catchy. Yes, a killer album, in fact this is their strongest effort since the oh so underrated masterpiece Spooked from 1997. With Pretty Maids, you always know what you get and what you get is great music, great production and great musicians and this is a CD any Pretty Maids fan could easily buy unheard. Better yet, every damn hard rock fan could – and should – buy this unheard. Let’s just hope that we don’t have to wait another four years for a new Pretty Maids record. The quest for world domination has begun!

10/10

Tracklist:

1. Pandemonium
2. I.N.V.U.
3. Little Drops Of Heaven
4. One World One Truth
5. Final Day Of Innocence
6. Cielo Drive
7. It Comes At Night
8. Old Enough To Know
9. Beautiful Madness
10. Breathless
11. It Comes At Night (remix bonus track)

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