.@planetmosh reviews the new album from Pretty Maids, out now on @FrontiersRec
Thirty years into their stop-start career, this 14th album from Pretty Maids is something of an amalgam, being as it is a combination of re-recorded tracks and four new songs.
However, any suggestion that this approach is a sign that Ronnie Atkins, Ken Hammer and co. are running out of creative steam as they enter their third rockin’ decade would be a misnomer, as ‘Louder Than Ever’ is irrefutable proof that the Maids are as relevant, vibrant and, well, louder than ever.
Looking at the eight re-worked tracks first, it’s a carefully chosen and clever selection from the heavier end of their back catalogue, featuring the likes of the towering ‘Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth’ (given the benefit of a huge kick of modernity almost two decades on from its original release), the double whammy of ‘He Who Never Lived’ and ‘Virtual Brutality’ (from 2002’s excellent ‘Planet Panic’ album, which also spawns a hard-hitting re-invention of the under-rated, WASP-esque ‘Playing God’) and an acerbic rendition of the title track from ‘Wake Up To The Real World’.
The four new songs, interspersed among the rest of the material, a should be the main focus of attention, and quite rightly so, as they are an extremely strong and diverse collection. Opener ‘Deranged’ crunches and grinds with venomous intent, while ‘My Soul To Take’ is a typical, powerfully sweeping Scandi-ballad; ‘Nuclear Boomerang’, meanwhile, harkens back to the band’s ’80s glam metal routes while echoing the apocalyptic heaviness of 2010’s punishing ‘Pandemonium’ opus, and closer ‘A Heart Without A Home’ is a rough-edged acoustic led showcase for the richness of Atkins’ vocals and a suitably relaxing denouement.
The Maids could easily have released the four new songs as a stop gap EP, but having taken the bold step of interweaving them with the revamped archive collateral they have produced an album which lives up to its title and shows a band still very much delivering powerful, energetic and hard-hitting hard rock.
The special edition comes with an insightful DVD recorded during last year’s ‘Motherland’ tour, giving a genuine feel for what it is like to be in a band on the road, and featuring some wonderful archive footage, as well as the promo videos from the singles, ‘Little Drops Of Heaven’ and ‘Mother Of All Lies’.
Deranged / Playing God / Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth / My Soul To Take / He Who Never Lived / Virtual Brutality / Tortured Spirit / With These Eyes / Nuclear Boomerang / Snakes In Eden / Wake Up To The Real World / A Heart Without A Home
Recommended listening: ‘Nuclear Boomerang’
‘Louder Than Ever’ is out now on Frontiers Records.
Pretty Maids play the Frontiers Festival in Milan on 2 May and Firefest in Nottingham on 25 October.