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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CD-Review: Pretty Maids - "Louder Than Ever"

The Danish cult rockers PRETTY MAIDS don't want to take a break: it's exactly one year ago when Ronnie Atkins and Co. released their latest album "Motherland", which was followed by a long European-Tour. Inbetween they recorded their new effort "Louder Than Ever" - an album that consists of re-recordings from songs of the 1995 - 2006 era, plus four brand new tracks. Let's see if those new versions make sense.

Re-recordings seem to be in trend right now. There are so many bands out there, who re-recorded their older stuff to shorten the waiting-time for their next release with new material. So, those LP's are often some kind of fillers to stay active in the music world, although there is nothing new to say or to present.
With "Louder Than Ever" it's quiet the same, but here it made a bit more sense to re-record the old material, because of the change of the band's sound. I think every fan of this group knows that Pretty Maids play more Melodic Metal with a modern approach nowadays than Hard Rock back in the 80's/90's. So, it was interesting to hear the new versions of the older songs.

First of all I can say that all songs on this record rock very, very hard. In my opinion the band never sounded that heavy, so the album title says it all. The production (handled by Jacob Hansen again) is crunchy and punchy - simply perfect. Hansen plays a big role for the bandsound since "Pandemonium" from 2010 and again he delivers fantastic, quality work. Also the band is in top form, Ronnie Atkins screams his heart out and Ken Hammer kicks so much ass on the guitar, it's a pleasure to listen to this album. Each song get's a heavier and more modern edge and this is quiet interesting. So, production, presentation and sound is simply top-notch!

But I have one major problem with this record: there is a reason why many songs of this specific era are forgotten - and that is the weak songwriting. The thing is: even if you pimp up the sound and the production, the core-songwriting itself stays the same and here I have to say that many songs sound so uninspired and bulky without great melodies or big hooks. Best examples are songs like "Psycho Time Bomb" and "Virtual Brutality". Some kind of hit potential is hardly missed here. On "Pandemonium" and "Motherland" Pretty Maids found the perfect balance between heaviness and great remarkable melodies - and this is the reason why I love this band so much nowadays. Don't know where it comes from, but since 2010 they increased their songwriting skills very much. Just think of "Little Drops Of Heaven", "Bullet For You", "Motherland", and many, many more. Of Course, the Maids had always some great songs in their repertoire like "Walk Away", "Hell On High Heels" or "A Love And A Fiction", but sadly not one single song of them ended up on "Louder Than Ever".

The best songs on this record are - without any surprise - the new ones. "Nuclear Boomerang" is a cool neckbreaker, as well as the darker "Deranged". "My Soul To Take" is the typical airplay radio song and my favorite on the whole CD, while "A Heart Without A Home" is a very calm track, which gives a good contrast to the rest of the songs.

Finally I can say that "Louder Than Ever" shows the band from their heaviest side and is an essential purchase for all die-hard fans, who love everything the band did in the past. People like me, who became fans with the fantastic "Pandemonium" should listen first and then decide if they'd like to spend their money on this one.



01. Deranged (new song)
02. Playing God
03. Psycho Time Bomb
04. My Soul To Take (new song) *
05. He Who Never Lived
06. Virtual Brutality
07. Tortured Spirit
08. With These Eyes
09. Nuclear Boomerang (new song) *
10. Snakes In Eden *
11. Wake Up To The Real World
12. A Heart Without A Home (new song) *

* best songs 

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