- Album Reviews

Pretty Maids – Motherland

Danish rockers Pretty Maids were formed in 1981 by vocalist Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer. Despite having moderate success and longevity as a band, Pretty Maids is only known in America for its signature song Future World from the 1987 album of the same name. After numerous line up changes, 12 studio albums and three live albums, it looks like the Maids are experiencing a career renaissance of sorts. The band received critical and fan acclaim for their 2010 album Pandemonium and subsequent tour, including appearing on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise in 2012, and a show stealing performance at ProgPower USA XIII festival in 2012 (the bands first concert on U.S. soil). After the release of Pretty Maids first live CD/DVD set It Comes Alive (Maid in Switzerland), the band set out on the difficult task of following up the success of Pandemonium. All the key components are back in place as the winning formula of producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe) and band members Rene Shades (bass), Morten Sandager (keys), and Allan Tschicaja (drums) joining Atkins and Hammer are set to release the bands 13th studio album Motherland via Frontiers Records. So the question is, how do you top a masterpiece of melodic heavy rock such as Pandemonium? The answer is simple; you don’t. Instead, Motherland picks up where Pandemonium leaves off, albeit with less of a focus on being heavier and just concentrating on writing great songs with catchy hooks and melodies.
The album kicks off with the anthemic and powerful first single Mother of All Lies, whose lyrics question the trust we put in this generations world leaders. The political theme continues on the epic and melodic To Fool A Nation. Atkins is in fine voice as always and Sandagar’s melodic keyboards overlay the Hammer’s crunchy and heavy power chords. On The Iceman, Sandagar’s keys once again take the spotlight with an eerie melody and a heavy yet melodic chorus. The band shows its lighter AOR side on the “hit single in the making” Sad To See You Suffer. This song is signature Pretty Maids (similar to Little Drops of Heaven from Pandemonium) with a sing-a-long chorus and bright melodies throughout. The band comes roaring back with a vengeance on the heavy guitar rock of Hooligan, which has some great guitar work and killer vocal harmonies. The band shows it’s softer side with Infinity, a symphonic keyboard laden power ballad with soaring vocal harmonies during the chorus. A sinister vocal and riff start off the heavy rock anthem Why So Serious? (a lyrical nod to Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight perhaps?). The verses feature a heavy chugging guitar rhythm and an uplifting harmonious chorus. The title track is a heavy fast rocker with tons of energy and heavy guitar and melody. This is the kind of song the Maids excel at and should be a great song to see in a live setting. I See Ghosts is a spectacular headbanging song that combines the bands strengths of AOR melody and hooks and heavy guitar crunch that will have fans pumping their fists and singing along to the chorus. Atkins and company return to their more sentimental side with ultimate pledge of devotion Bullet For You, another well-done power ballad with a more commercial approach. First and foremost, Pretty Maids is a band that excels in a live environment and nothing shows that more than the hard edge of Who What Where When Why, which is guaranteed to have full crowd participation during the shout along chorus. The albums final track, Wasted is a mid tempo piano driven song that builds in intensity from the beginning to the gloriously epic chorus and a fine way to close out the album. In the final analysis, Motherland is a perfect follow up to Pandemonium, it may not be a “heavier” album, but it is sure to please longtime Pretty Maids without a doubt.

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