Starting their career back at the beginning of the 1980s, Pretty Maids have consistently released quality albums throughout the years. Unfortunately they have stayed under the radar and never broke through with the success they truly deserve.
Building on their rebirth with 2010’s Pandemonium and 2013’s Motherland, they are back with Kingmaker, which follows the same formula as their previous releases. They’re still led by founding guitarist Ken Hammer and vocalist Ronnie Atkins, who have been the backbone of their existence from the very beginning.
Pretty Maids are unique, able to lay down some heavy thick sounding riffs in one instance and then the next track can be tender and poignant. From the beginning, vocalist Atkins has shown that none is better morphing his voice from menacing to melodic like on their early ’80s track “Future World.”
Kingmaker’s title track features a driving heavy riff blended with some great double bass drumming from Allan Tschicaja. The groove filled “Was That What You Wanted” finds Hammer detuning his guitar and adding modern influences into his music. The ultra heavy “King Of The Right Here And Now” could be one of the heaviest songs in their catalog. Hammer dominates the music with heavy down picking until exploding into a remarkably memorable chorus.
Pretty Maids are at their finest when blending as much melody into their material as possible. They have an incredible knack for crafting ballads with an edge that still rock and are propelled forward. “Face The World,” “Last Beauty On Earth” and “Heavens Little Devil” are filled with pop sensibilities that are centered on Atkins’ fantastic melodies. Each track will fill your head and implant themselves to repeat in your brain over and over.
Pretty Maids are not for anyone looking for brutal metal or experimentation. They craft straightforward songs that are meant to pump your fist and scream along with the amazing vocals of Ronnie Atkins. Entering his 50s, Atkins still has an incredible set of pipes that showcases him as one of rock’s most diverse and finest vocalists.
Kingmaker is another strong release for a band that was dead and buried fifteen years ago. Their last three releases are as good as anything that they have put out in their career and it is inspiring to see a band thirty plus years into recording that are still able to write at such a high level.
(released November 4th, 2016 on Frontiers Music)