Released: 2014, Frontiers
I really, truly enjoy well designed, well-thought out releases like this. LOUDER THAN EVER is a 30th Anniversary package from the respected Danish Metal act. It features four new tracks, and eight re-recordings. Let’s look at the details behind what makes this so interesting in my mind.
Around 2006 and the resulting four year gap, Pretty Maids went through some big changes. They lost a couple of long-time members and they switched label to Frontiers after being on Massacre Records for over a decade and five studio albums. In 2010 they came raging back with PANDEMONIUM which saw new fire for the band with a darker, gritty, guitar tone, faster songs and Ronnie Atkins singing in a tougher, lower register. Now in 2014 we hit their 30th Anniversary and instead of a simple ‘Best Of’ (they already have one of those) or Live album (they already have three of those) they decided to re-record some tunes from the Massacre years plus one more. On top of that they wrote and recorded four new cuts to add value for the fans. There is also a retrospective DVD with the package but for full disclosure I am only reviewing an advance copy of the CD part.
I sat and listened to the original versions and the new version and the new songs, and while the there is nothing wrong with the original recordings, these new versions with the new members have a renewed vigor and energy. As you can see from above they picked many of the heavier tunes from those five albums. They redo the following songs.
-Pyscho Time Bomb (From SCREAM, ’95)
-Snakes In Eden, With These Eyes (From ANYTHING WORTH DOING, IS WORTH OVERDOING, ’99)
-Tortured Spirit (From CARPE DIEM, ’00)
-Virtual Brutality, Playing God, He Who Never Lived (From PLANET PANIC, ’02)
-Wake Up To The Real World (From WAKE UP TO THE REAL WORLD, ’06)
I’m surprised they didn’t redo anything from SPOOKED (’97). I would have dropped the one more recent Frontiers album from ’06 and added a cut from SPOOKED, but that is just me.
The new songs are all as good or better than anything they have done. We get two heavy ones and a mid-paced rocker/semi-ballad and a ballad representing all their styles. The lead off track, a new song, ‘Deranged’ is a fierce way to start this mostly (80%) heavy album. The mid-paced rocker, ‘Soul To Take’ is in the style that they always do so very well. The lead off single, ‘Nuclear Boomerang’, is as heavy as anything they have ever done with lyrics about The Manhattan Project in World War II. Rounding out the album we get a gentle, acoustic tinged ballad called ‘A Heart Without A Home’, ending things on a quiet note.
The production is immaculate and the cover art is really epic looking with the giant figure being a little nod to the past with the robotic looking, female that has been on a couple of their early album covers and revisited on WAKE UP TO THE REAL WORLD. Some of those Massacre albums are getting increasingly hard to find and these powerful remakes will hopefully introduce fans to songs from albums that were harder to find, especially in North America. Some fans even consider those Massacre albums among the weaker albums of the bands catalogue and I hope they will very pleasantly surprised with these fiery new versions. The album title says it all. After thirty years, the band is louder than ever and this compilation is a real treat.