Hard rock doesn’t get much better than Pretty Maids – especially in 2013. The older the band gets, the angrier their album themes seem to be – and this results in some pretty heavy music with exceptional social messages and plenty of melodic moments. The Danish band celebrated its 30th anniversary with last year’s live album It Comes Alive and have now entered their third decade with Motherland.
Motherland is packed with the same modern melodic hard rock sound that resulted in the masterful 2010 album Pandemonium. It’s a strong follow-up to a career defining album and seems to continue where Pandemonium left off. In many ways Pandemonium was similar to the 1987 masterwork Future World, with Motherland being the powerful follow up that Future World never had. On this album the band really seems to give it their all and the results are intelligent and kick ass all in one.
Opening with the potent Mother Of All Lies, Motherland begins with a strong political message, in your face grooves and is by far the best tune on the album. For the most part, the heavy attitude continues throughout the album – even in the ballads Infinity, Bullet For You and Wasted, which are more harsh and less fluffy than the brilliant Little Drops of Heaven from Pandemonium.
Other standouts include Sad To See You Suffer, which is the albums only pop-rock sounding hit track, and the regal sounding rocker The Iceman.
Vocalist Ronnie Atkins seems as much at ease singing the angry political songs as he does the pop flavoured songs, but still gives the album a unique and enjoyable consistency, while the guitars, bass and drums are just as polished and powerful as they were on Pandemonium. This might be due to using producer Jacob Hansen once again. Hansen really has a handle on Pretty Maids unique sound.
The one thing that Motherland seems to lack is a better use of keyboards. In the past the keyboards have worked well with the songs, but on this album they seem to be more of a background than an enhancement. Maybe that’s due to the harsher sound on Motherland, but the creative keyboards give the band a fuller dimension, especially on its ballads.
While not quite as catchy and magical as Pandemonium, Motherland is a strong follow-up album from Pretty Maids and its certainly nothing to sneeze at.
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