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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pretty Maids – Pandemonium review

Pretty Maids – Pandemonium CD review
(Released on Frontiers records - June 2010)

Danish rockers Pretty Maids return with their latest album to date, Pandemonium their last being ‘Wake up To the Real World’ in 2006.

For those who don’t know, the band has actually been around since 1981, yes that long, although they didn’t release their first album until 1984, with ‘Red Hot and Heavy.’
You see my problem with the band – possibly many other rock fans too. – is that often it seems like they have an identity crisis!

Now don’t get me wrong, as I certainly recognize the bands talents, but if I was to say to you imagine the pomp prog sound of say Asia, then the hooks of say Europe and finally the aggression of say Metallica and that’s to me somewhere about where the band is at!

This new album opens with the title track, with an intro piece of US President Obama during a news conference, leading you into the Pandemonium direction, statement wise, before the music then kicks in.

It’s a very powerful start to an album musically and that part I love, but the vocals during the verse …, hmmm … To me, with the music, this isn’t quite right with the aggressive snarl, but then the chorus hits melody and all is well again. That was my assessment upon my first few plays, but …. I’ve since grown to accept it, but after giving the CD some time away from plays.

‘I.N.V.U.’ - What?! Oh OK, I get it … Doh! Spell it out again … - next and I like this track, I really do, after growing from the darkness, it just grows with some great hooklines, but it’s Ronnie Atkins voice that really gets me, so changeable in so many different ways. Very interesting. Dark and grungy one minute then totally melodic the next …

Talk about going completely left field with ‘Little Drops of Heaven’ to the pop level almost, not in a power ballad way either as after a poppy start / intro, it simply builds to a huge powerful chorus and this grows and is getting the band a lot of attention too.

Next up it sounds like an Asia track, before crunching power chords in ‘One World One Truth’ and for a moment Atkins almost sounds like Magnums Bob Catley! It’s a strong heavy yet melodic song.

‘Final Day of Innocence’ is again heavy with plenty of melody present. Musically it’s similar to say Nickelback latest sound ala Mutt Lange, but perhaps a little more melodic. Love the way they blend atmospheric keyboards with heavy guitars.

Next there’s no messing with the riffing intro of ‘Cielo Drive’ and it’s just plowing through as the song just totally drives and as heavy as these guys sound, it’s still melodic. There’s an erie radio type broadcast mid way through before searing guitar solo that cruises. Atkins voice at time for me is almost too much growl in that seriously metalic vein, but it just works here somehow.

‘It Comes At Night’ certainly echoes say Megadeth / Metallica as it starts, but in the pre-chorus the melody kicks in briefly while the chorus is a growler and then midway through the song, it eases right down to a quiet simply piano and vocal piece. Clever. Then it becomes a strong melodic piece backing the solo, before the aggressive verse returns. Wow! Quite a track.
With ‘Old Enough To Know’ it’s melodic from the start and right through, as the ballad of the album rears it’s head beautifully. It really is a great track, maybe too mellow for many Pretty Maids die hards, but it’s class to me.

Next up is ‘Beautiful Madness’ which is almost a chug along easy going rocker, with the melodic keyboard overtones keeping it’s melodic edge, but again the variety in how Atkins phrases each song in a different way makes it intriguing.

‘Breathless’ is so commercial, it should be a huge hit and I’m surprised it’s not being played on every radio station …, everywhere! It’s almost classic Def Leppard territory meet the most commercial side of Guns ‘n’ Roses, but it’s so good in it’s own right, that I shouldn’t need to draw comparisons.

Closing track here is … – again? - ‘It Comes’ … Yes really … It was track number seven and then here at number 11 it’s back again. With a more atmospheric intro this time though. The remix?

It’s funny to hear the metallic baseline to some of these songs, particulary this one, with some of the swirling and stabbing keyboards that support the metal song structure and this is what makes the album such an interesting mix.
The thing is, maybe this is what has confused a lot of rock fans to maybe not take Pretty Maids 100% to their hearts so to speak.

There’s clearly a lot to be enjoyed here and at first I’ll admit, it wasn’t grabbing me, but with time it really is an album that has won me over.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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