Pretty Maids – Undress Your Madness (Frontiers Music)Wednesday, 6th November 2019
Mere weeks prior to the release of the latest Pretty Maids album, word came out that vocalist Ronnie Atkins is dealing with lung cancer. Hopefully it will not derail the work on Undress Your Madness, as this Danish unit has been very consistently churning out quality melodic metal – beyond their 80’s start into a prominent veteran band you can depend on for killer, memorable songs and performances. They’ve been on an uphill climb since 2010 with Pandemonium, and this 16th studio record shows no sign of veering off course, delivering ten addictive tracks from Pretty Maids that combine catchy vocals and equally energetic/memorable musical hooks, riffs, and harmonies.
The band understand how to mix up the more commercial, easily accessible material with heavier offerings that prove they haven’t lost their love for the genre – the latter aspect appears on the fourth cut for the title track, Ken Hammer delivering a robust/dark riff parade and thoughtful, bluesy-enhanced solo extravaganza. Approaching a semi-ballad like “Will You Still Kiss Me (If I See You in Heaven)” with a mixture of clean/electric rhythms and multi-part vocal melodies, the song takes on a veneer that combines older Rainbow/Europe aspects with classic 80’s Def Leppard. The use of keyboardist Chris Laney is another asset, as he adds unique textures throughout as another earworm for the listener to gravitate towards beyond the conventional tempos and solid Atkins singing – check out his ivory tinkling for “Runaway World” or his steady support to the driving guitars during second half anthem “Black Thunder”. Producer Jacob Hansen once again knows how to capture Pretty Maids in their best element, keeping their sound lean and mean but also with enough modern angst and bite to appeal to a wider audience. The five-piece just know how to write and perform in a capsule, grabbing the right main riffs and building upon them in the right, focused manner for maximum impact.
Undress Your Madness will not rewrite the book on melodic heavy metal – it just adds another strong chapter for Pretty Maids and their ability to still be relevant for 38 plus years as a band. Let’s hope for a safe recovery for Ronnie, enjoying this album in that interim as another worthwhile effort in the band’s deep discography.