Live the life I want to
And why does that provoke you?
And why so serious?"
One Word Review: Danish
If 2010's Pandemonium was a reminder that Pretty Maids is still a force to be reckoned with, then Motherland takes that reminder and stresses it with 13 intensely neat and tightly controlled underscores. The album is consistent, varied, well made and delivers heavy metal which is equally heavy and melodic. If you are a Pretty Maids fan then that is all you need to know.
Motherland differs somewhat to what has come before by being married to a very keyboard-centric sound. I do not remember any Pretty Maids album where the keyboard sound has had so much focus. Fortunately, Ken Hammer's guitar sound is sharp and heavier than ever. This combination of a monstrously heavy guitar sound and focus on the keyboard gives the album a very compact sound. Adding to this impression is a drum sound, which is strangely lacking in punch but somehow fits into the compact sound just fine. The production of the album certainly makes the album stand out and sound very well-conceived.
The production suits the album and gives it a darker edge, much in tune with the lyrics which often deal with varying degrees of instability. Be it mental, financial, emotional, fanatical, moral or romantic I get the impression that there is a theme of instability running through the album.
Unexpected moments of brilliance shimmer all through the album. These include the guitar line which draws the basis for the chorus of To Fool a Nation, the way the word "Power" is emphasized in the chorus of Mother of All Lies, the pounding fury of The Iceman, the surprisingly heavy opening to Hooligan, the drawn out rhythm and keyboard melody which smothers Infinity in atmosphere (in a good way), the way the opening line "I'll stand my ground" lays the basis for the powerful title track, the bombastic chorus line for Who What Where When Why and last but not least, Ken Hammer's guitar solos which are cool and to the point. All these moments are but some of the highlights on a highly enjoyable album.
Ronnie Atkins' voice has aged like a fine (insert you choice of alcohol here, I'll go for red wine) and I am constantly amazed at how he epitomizes both the convincingly brutal and mesmerizingly tender. He delivers a memorable performance here.
Why So Serious is a standout and has been my favorite song right from the first listen. The lyrics are excellent in a very direct way and the message is forced down the throat of the listener by way of forceful singing and an overwhelming powerful chorus, The way the line "It takes hell to hold me" is delivered is my favorite moment on the album and it defines the very essence of the band. Just brilliant. Ken's solo part is excellent as well and builds tension perfectly for the last chorus.
With Bullet For You Pretty Maids are in their zenith and most well known persona, delivering a power ballad with sincerely emotional lyrics. This is also their most vulnerable moment on the album.
Wasted is one of the most keyboard-heavy songs and it is also the one which best utilizes this element, as it adds a wonderfully epic atmosphere to the whole song. The song is a headbanging delight but I am in two minds about the keyboard-heavy sound. In some songs it works but in others I feel it is unnecessary. These include moments in Why So Serious and The Iceman where the keyboard takes some of the brutality away from the songs.
In their finest hour Pretty Maids are monstrously heavy and spellbindingly melodic. They are a rare breed of band who are able to fit these two opposites into something unique and instantly recognizable. Motherland not only honors the bands legacy, it is also among their finest and comes highly recommended.
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Mother of All Lies