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As I sit writing this review, I find it absolutely amazing that it's almost exactly a year ago that I was reviewing Pretty Maids’ last studio album, the absolutely sublime 'Motherland'. The time has passed so quickly! Not content with sitting on their laurels, Pretty Maids have returned with 'Louder Than Ever' which contains four new tracks and eight re-recordings from their 1995-2006, arguably 'less successful', era. Hard copies will also include a DVD of material, adding to the collectability factor but, alas, I have not been given that part of the set to review (although I will, of course, be ordering a copy asap). As a fan from almost the very start of their career back in the early 80's I'm always jumping up and down like an idiot at the thought of a new Pretty Maids release and it is no different here, even though not all of the tracks are brand new.

Upon doing my usual research, I've noted a few comments regarding the validity of re-recording lesser known tracks when they could have picked, for example, ‘Future World’ or ‘Red, Hot & Heavy’. Well, I actually think they've done the right thing because those more famous songs could never really be bettered and, in choosing the songs they have, they are giving them a new lease of life to many people who didn't know Pretty Maids existed before 2010, or are returning to the band in the last five to six years. Vocalist Ronnie Atkins has also said that this is an "in-between album” and that they wanted "to give those songs a different spin with the band and producer we have now". That makes perfect sense to me, especially as the re-records are harder, edgier and have better production than originally, and the new tracks are as good as anything the band released on 'Pandemonium' or 'Motherland'. To certain people, this could be seen almost as a completely new album.

The fantastic Jacob Hansen is the producer in question and he almost seems to be an unofficial sixth member of the band these days. He has found that perfect balance between heavy and melodic that make Pretty Maids shine. This is a band completely at the top of their game and more hungry than ever to deliver the goods. Ronnie's voice gets better and better, Ken Hammer's guitar work is wonderful to behold, as are the keyboards of Morten Sandager, and bassist Rene Shades and drummer Allan Tchicaja are a rhythm force to be reckoned with! If you haven't seen the video for new song 'Nuclear Boomerang' yet (and why not?), then go and watch it because you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. 'Deranged' is another face ripper and 'My Soul To Take' and the beautiful ballad 'A Heart Without A Home' prove that Pretty Maids are, incredibly, improving all the time. Of the older tracks, 'Playing God', 'Psycho Time Bomb', 'Virtual Brutality' and 'Snakes In Eden' stand out for me but there isn't a bad song here. It's cracking stuff and really does whet the appetite for a new studio album. Yet again, Pretty Maids have delivered, although I still say it's going to be tough to surpass 'Motherland'.
Frontiers Records
Review by Rick Tilley
21st March 2014
1) Deranged; 2) Playing God
3) Psycho Time Bomb
4) My Sould to Take
5) He Who Never Lived
6) Virtual Brutality
7) Tortured Spirit
8) Within These Eyes
9) Nuclear Boomerang
10) Snakes in Eden
11) Wake Up to the Real World
12) A Heart Without a Home
"Yet again, Pretty Maids have delivered..."