Pretty Maids are a melodic heavy metal band from Horsens, Denmark that was started in 1981 by Ken Hammer and Ronnie Atkins. Two decades later the band is still
putting out high caliber melodic heavy metal, bucking the trends and holding on to a very dedicated underground audience.
1. "Fortuna Imperatrix
Mundi (Carmina Burana)" (:23)
In their early years as a band Pretty Maids were playing music that was much closer to traditional heavy metal than the more commercial, melodic metal and AOR they became now known for years later. Their debut is still melodic, but equally heavy. I've long been a fan of this album. Frankly, if it was a two song single with just "Back to Back" and their cover of Thin Lizzy's "Little Darling" I'd still say it was essential listening. "Back to Back" is probably my favorite Pretty Maids song as it is heavy yet has more hooks than a tackle box. This track was also capably covered by Hammerfall. "Little Darling" is a fairly obscure choice of a Thin Lizzy cover. Being a Lizzy maniac myself, I always enjoy when a band pays tribute to the Irish rockers. However, the rest of the disc is quite good as well. "Battle of Pride" and "Night Danger" are upbeat, traditional heavy metal rockers with some nice guitar solos, while the title track is a slower, more plodding heavy number. There are some hints of the more melodic AOR-style in songs like "A Place in Night". Frankly, "Red; Hot And Heavy" is an underrated heavy metal gem from a band who are not really known as being a heavy metal band. I personally think this album is one of Pretty Maids finest platters.
Pretty Maids-Future World (Columbia) 1987
1. "Future World"
Perhaps I'm just getting the wrong discs, but I'm just not getting it. From some of the emails I get you would think that these guys were one of the greatest and heaviest power metal bands to ever walk the face of the earth. This is just not the case. Don't get me wrong, however, this album is actually very good, but it's not jaw dropping, ear splitting heavy metal. Rather, "Future World" is a quality commercial metal platter with touches of power metal. What gives it the slight power metal edge is the rough vocals which stand in direct opposition to much of what would have been considered pop metal in the 80's. The opening title track is a monster of a song, and the rest of the disc follows suite. The disc sports very cool cover art as well. I'll have to check out more of this bands music based on the strength of this disc.
Pretty Maids - Sin-Decade (CBS) 1991
1. "Running Out"
"Sin-Decade" continues in the same metal meets melodic AOR mode that the Maids are known for. However this disc seems a tad heavier than some. This could be due to producer Flemming Rasmussen who is known for his work with Metallica. As with the rest of their catalogue I find the entire CD to be quite solid and entertaining throughout. Standout cuts are the amazing title cut and "Nightmare in the Neighbourhood". "In the Flesh" is a straigh-up heavy metal number and a bit faster than what I am use to hearing from Pretty Maids. Of course the quintessential song here is the cover of Thin Lizzy's obscure single "Please Don't Leave Me". A great song to begin with, but capably covered here as well.
Pretty Maids - Scream (Massacre) 1995
In 1998 I bought an album by Hammerfall called "Legacy of Kings". On that album there was an incredible cover of the Pretty Maids' "Back to Back". On the strength of that song, I decided to check out some Pretty Maids platters. I posted on a few trade boards that I was looking for some Pretty Maids and "Scream" was the first CD I managed to secure. Honestly, based on that one song, I was expecting some screaming heavy metal, but what I got instead was melodic pop metal. Argh! I must admit, I was very disappointed at first. However, once I got past that initial disappointment, I discovered that "Scream" is a choice melodic metal disc. The disc starts off with a couple of strong heavy metal numbers, "Rise Up" and "Scream", before breaking into some more melodic numbers. Both these tracks feature fat guitar tones and some infectious vocal melodies. Actually it's this mix of heavy guitar tones, vocal melodies and the first-class song writing that makes this disc so appealing. Track number three, "Psycho-Time-Bomb-Planet-Earth", while not quite as heavy as the first two tracks still features those choice melodies, layered vocal harmonies and heavy guitar tones. "This Love" could easily have been a huge MTV hit if it had been released during the heydays of heavy metal. Somehow Pretty Maids manage to find that perfect mixture of pop songwriting and heavy metal that made bands like Whitesnake and Skid Row so popular in the late 80's. It isn't until "Walk Away" that the band takes down the intensity level a bit for a power ballad. I swear I have heard this song somewhere before, but I do not think it was a hit and it's not a cover song. Several songs from this disc could easily have been radio hits had they been released in 1989. Unfortunately in '95 this type of melodic heavy metal was relegated to underground status under the tyranny of grunge. Regardless of it's lack of success however, "Scream" is a solid platter from beginning to end. The stellar songwriting along with the powerful production by Flemming Rasmussen make "Scream" quite inviting. Despite my initial disappointment with this CD, over time it has become one of my favorite CDs.
Pretty Maids - Anything Worth Doing, Is Worth Overdoing (Scandanavian Records) 1999
In Eden" (5:16)
Well, one thing is for sure, these guys certainly have not followed any trends nor strayed from what they do best. "Anything Worth Doing" is a fine slab of melodic heavy metal, not unlike the stuff they did back in the 80's. I guess when you know what you do best, you stick to it, and certainly Pretty Maids are at their best playing melodic metal. The one thing that has changed is the production which actually makes the tunes a bit heavier sounding. With a few more listens I can see this cd becoming one of my absolute favorites.
Pretty Maids - Carpe Diem (Massacre) 2000
1. "Violent Tribe"
Yet another melodic metal platter from the Maids. Tracks one through four are probably a tad heavier than "Anything Worth Doing" but still retains the same melodic and commercial appeal. Tracks five breaks away from the heavy metal formula. "Clay" is a mostly acoustic ballad with a huge commercial hook. Track six brings us back to the heavy metal again and continues in like manner for the rest of the disc, switching from melodic heavy metal to infectious power ballads. Picked up this disc in a trade with a trader from Poland. However, the disc itself is a German pressing.
Pretty Maids - Planet Panic (PREMA ) 2002
1. "Virtual Brutality"
Have read a ton of negative fan reviews on this CD. Most claim that this disc is "to modern". Hmmm, not sure what their idea of "modern" is because this isn't some modern rock or alternative album. "Planet Planic" is perhaps the band's heaviest album in a long time. It may even have a slightly more modern production, but overall this is just what I would expect from Pretty Maids. A couple tracks even seem to dig back to their heavy metal roots. "Playing God" and the cover of "One Way to Rock" are both straight-forward rockers. Likewise "Natural High" is nothing short of a melodic rock ballad. Nothing "modern" about these songs. The band does experiment on a couple of tracks with drum loops and modern production effects, but nothing extremely distracting. OK, even I won't say that this is the bands finest hour, but even I still think they deliver the goods.