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Pretty Maids – Kingmaker

Pretty Maids
by Anton Sanatov at 05 November 2016, 10:51 PM

A great record has something that goes beyond the typical virtues of fine musical composition; it has the ability to alter your current spiritual state, to pull you away from the edge. A truly fine album may indeed have what it takes to grab you by the back of the neck, yank your face out of the mud and wake you from a slumber of dejection…making you a King within your own destiny.

Some give it to you hard and raise you up to ‘royal’ status through a dose of tough love whilst others take a more transcendental, melodic approach to stimulate your philosophy, but one thing is for certain: we should all consider ourselves so fortunate, for we have access to a bottomless mine of musical collectives that have the powers to inaugurate our souls. And on “Kingmaker”, industry veterans PRETTY MAIDS show that they still rule over their own providence whilst continuing trying to inspire others to do the same.

“Kingmaker” opens strong and triumphant with “When God Took a Day Off”, racking up serious melodic Metal mileage fuelled by an 80’s formula and smooth yet punchy rhythms that carry upcoming tracks in the likes of “Face the World”
and “Bull’s Eye”. The melodic presence threads these songs with brisk guitar leads and domineering vocals, and the band’s approach to composition almost borders on progressive. There is indeed a very notable “clean-shaven” feel to these songs, and whilst they are far from incendiary, they still manage to spread their wings above the sun due to their fine craftsmanship.

That being said, for all its effortless flow, this record can still leave a bruise. PRETTY MAIDS grab the hammers and get to building that coveted throne with wise riffing and righteous heaviness on tracks like “Kingmaker”, “Humanize Me”, “King of the Right Here and Now” and “Sickening”. The latter songs see the band combine their seasoned, crisp songwriting precision and crown it with a pound of led as they manage (very adequately so) to blend their refined songsmanship with whole-hearted Metal values.

Of course, there is an overly familiar sound to “Kingmaker” – after all, the kingdom has been around for a long time. PRETTY MAIDS do seem to be applying well-established architectural techniques to this record – very much along the blueprints of bands like U.D.O. and SAXON – but it is nonetheless hard to fault.

The production is very crisp and airy, although slightly excessive. The sound is indeed very well executed, but unfortunately the production elements tend to dip their fingers into the songs far too many times and often end up stirring the waters into an unnecessarily chaotic current. The performances of the band members however, are top-notch. Particular praise goes out to guitarist Ken Hammer who applies a modest but nonetheless distinguished approach to his playing and compliments the songs with his sonic contributions – whilst still throwing in some cool solo licks when the mood strikes him.

Overall – take to the throne young one. Whilst this record may not be a crown gem, it nonetheless has the strength to make you shine – even if it is just for a day. On “Kingmaker” PRETTY MAIDS prove that the music still moves them, and whilst this effort may not possess the urgency to rule the world, it nonetheless showcases the ever-present desire to do so.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

  1. When God Took a Day Off
  2. Kingmaker
  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. Heavens Little Devil
  9. Civilised Monsters
  10. Sickening
  11. Was That What You Wanted
  12. Kingmaker (Extended Version) \[Bonus Track]
Ronnie Atkins - Vocals
Ken Hammer - Guitars
Rene Shades - Bass
Allan Tschicaja - Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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