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Released: 2016, Frontiers Records
For a band as long in the tooth as Pretty Maids, with 35+ years in the tank, the turn of the decade in 2010 has shown they are still incredibly prolific. Hell, most bands can’t keep up with their pace, let alone release three albums and a live record as these Danes have done! Now with their fourth album this decade, the Maids have delivered what may be their heaviest, angriest record yet.
Seriously, although KINGMAKER includes the typical hard rock/heavy metal mix that the band is known for, this album is seriously pissed off. For every rockin’ “Heaven’s Little Devil”, there’s a couple of pure metal ragers like “Civilized Monsters” and several songs with pissed off lyrics. I won’t dig into the lyrics too much, but suffice it to say that Pretty Maids are none to happy about the state of the world right now.
Back to the music, Ken Hammer and co. have written what I consider to be eleven of the band’s most effortlessly enjoyable songs; from racing opener “When God Took a Day Off” to curb-stomping closer “Was That What You Wanted”, KINGMAKER is piled full of hooks and memorable riffs. I must mention Ronnie Atkins as well; his vocals are possibly more impassioned now than perhaps they’ve ever been. Between this fiery performance and his incredible work with Nordic Union earlier this year, 2016 is the Year of Atkins! Metal-Rules doesn’t vote on individual performances, but for my money, Atkins is the vocalist of the year; hands down.
Pretty Maids haven’t really deviated from their formula here, so if you’re a newer fan or a long-time follower, KINGMAKER will satisfy. That said, something about this album is a cut-above the group’s usual high standards, making this an easy Top 10 candidate for 2016.
1. When God Took a Day Off
3. Face the World
4. Humanize Me
5. Last Beauty on Earth
6. Bull’s Eye
7. King of the Right Here and Now
8. Heaven’s Little Devil
9. Civilized Monsters
11. Was That What You Wanted
Ronnie Atkins: Vocals
Ken Hammer: Guitar
Chris Laney: Keyboards
Rene Shades: Bass
Allan Tschicaja: Drums
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