Pretty Maids

01. Mother Of All Lies
02. To Fool A Nation
03. Confession
04. The Iceman
05. Sad To See You Suffer
06. Hooligan
07. Infinity
08. Why So Serious
09. Motherland
10. I See Ghosts
11. Bullet For You
12. Who What Where When Why
13. Wasted

Ronnie Atkins (Lead vocals)
Ken Hammer (Guitar)
Rene Shades (Bass)
Allan Tschicaja (Drums)
Morten Sandager (Keyboards)

Red Hot and Heavy (1984)
Future World (1987)
Jump The Gun (1990, released as Lethal Heroes in America)
Sin-Decade (1992)
Stripped (1993, acoustic album)
Scream (1994, not released in Europe until 1995)
Spooked (1997)
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Overdoing (1999)
Carpe Diem (2000)
Planet Panic (2002)
Wake Up to the Real World (2006)
Pandemonium (2010)
It Comes Alive (Live 2012)


Jacob Hansen (Producer, mix)

Released 2013-03-22
Reviewed 2013-03-10



Last year I got a nice surprise from Pretty Maids and their live album 'It Comes Alive' and not only proved my negativity against the band but also against live albums wrong. Now they're back with a studio album, the thirteenth of the kind, and it's the first that I review and I do it only because they impressed me so much with their live album and I wanted to give them a chance to do the same with a studio piece.

'Motherland' takes up Pretty Maids where they left us with 'Pandemonium' in 2010 and we get a cover art with some sort of devilish creature in the foreground and a human shape reaching it to the feet. But it's not the shapes that are interesting here, it's the colours - the post apocalyptical grey and other shades which you could almost hear in the music a well. The music sounds angry and dark and kind of heavy and it feels like a natural way to go for this band. They have the same producer as they had on 'Pandemonium' and the same line up as they had on the live album, which is one changed member since 'Pandemonium' in Rene Shades on bass. I think this album sounds very modern and grand on this album and mostly I think it's a result of working with one of the greatest producers in the world - Jacob Hansen. I think 'Pandemonium' were a little bit like this but now they've taken it one step further and it sounds so much better! The sound is clean like a polished eye-ball and it strikes you like cricket bat every time you hear the instruments or vocals roaring towards you, you're completely knocked down by it as you've got a punch in the face by Evander Holyfield. Just the way you want the sound!

Since Pretty Maids have released twelve studio albums already and beside that also six EPs and three live albums, not to mention their 30 years as an active band, I'm sure people will say all kinds of things about this new album compared to their earlier ways of doing things. I'm sure people will say things like "good old Pretty Maids" or "not at all like in the good old days" or whatever… Probably everything depending on who you ask but I won't say anything like that, mostly because I don't have that kind of relationship with the band and also because I normally don't do that kind of things. Instead, what you'll hear from me is that this is an album that's very melodic and modern in its sound but made in a classic hard rock kind of way. The classic hard rock kind of way comes from how they still make music according to the basic hard rock construction, which is the way this band normally does things but since they have this heavy, modern sound mostly coming from the superb full-bodied Hansen production they haven't made something that sounds exactly like everything else in this 40 year old genre. I think a big credit id due to Morten Sandager for giving this feeling as his keyboards manages to create both modern foreground sounds and moody background sounds at the same time. Him and Hansens big, clean sound gives the modern while the rest of the band brings the classic to the sound and I think most of it sounds really good! The band sounds very attuned on all the instruments and Ronny Atkins on vocals sounds almost a bit uncharacteristic clear in his voice, all though you hear his somewhat rough voice break through the barrier too. It's a voice made for singing metal and the songs on this album feels very much metal so it's no surprise to hear it work well together. Classic hard rock or heavy metal made according to well tried templates, still I can't say it feels dull or blase but actually pretty good!

I don't fall for music that sounds "the way it should sound" just because it's a classic band because there's no specific ways a band must or even should sound. There are, however, ways that bands sound better because they know how to make that kind of music better and Pretty Maids do apparently know how to make this kind of music well. We'll probably never hear this band play something revolutionising or chocking but that's probably a big reason why people love them. Predictability - one of the most appreciated attributes for humans, especially when it comes to music (and specificly this kind of music). If you do something unpredictable you're almost doomed to be criticised by not only fans but also hard rock media and I'm pretty sure some will cheer this album because of its predictability because in a way it is pretty predictable, pretty expected and pretty normal for being Pretty Maids. But it's not extremely predictable and it's not dull. It is good! Pretty Maids does the thing they do best on this album and they do it without repeating themselves excessively, which is the reason why I think 'Motherland' is worth a closer look. If you're a fan from before or not doesn't matter, this will work for both and there's actually no bad tracks at all on this 51 minutes long album - all 13 tracks are good and I especially like The Iceman, Sad To See You Suffer and Why So Serious.

All in all a really good album and maybe I've been unfair to Pretty Maids before? Perhaps… or perhaps it's their 30 years doing this that had made them this good? Either way I'm pretty sure I'll play 'Motherland' again in the future and I recommend you do do the same!



Label: Frontiers Records
Three similar bands: Kingdom Come/Fair Warning/Pink Cream 69
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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