Published on November 27th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Pretty Maids: Undress Your Madness (Frontiers, 2019)
Just like they did in 2016 with Kingmaker, Danish melodic metal band Pretty Maids swooped in at the end of the year this year to wreck everyone’s “best of 2019” lists. Their latest is called Undress Your Madness, and its the band’s 16th full-length studio release. It’s also the last to feature drummer Allan Sorenson and the first to feature keyboardist Chris Laney. Otherwise this is the same lineup responsible for recent classics Motherland and Kingmaker.
Pretty Maids has a formula that has worked well for close to four decades, and they don’t mess with that here. More to the point they’ve been on a hot streak since hooking up with producer extraordinaire Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Pyramaze, Amaranthe) in 2010 for Pandemonium, and they’ve wisely kept that streak going here. Undress Your Madness is another perfect example of the songwriting magic between guitarist Ken Hammer and vocalist Ronnie Atkins. They have an innate grasp of the best, most effective way to bridge the gap between heavy metal and melodic rock, serving up riff-heavy rockers next to ultra-melodic love songs. Hammer’s melodies are on point as always, and Laney proves to be a great addition with his deft (and not overdone) keyboards. And of course there’s Ronnie Atkins’ vocal performance. That soulful and powerful raspy voice is such a huge part of what makes this album (and Pretty Maids in general) so memorable. It’s even more impressive when you consider that fact that he was fighting cancer while this was recorded.
Aside from a brief intro track, Undress Your Madness delivers ten more instant Pretty Maids classics, any of which could qualify for a spot on your “best of Pretty Maids” playlists. Early single “Serpentine” feels like an old favorite by now, and if you want to experience the full range of Pretty Maids’ sound you can’t do much better than the progression from the soulful love song “Will You Still Kiss Me (If I See You In Heaven)” to the melodic mid-tempo “Runaway” to the full-on headbanger “If You Want Peace (Prepare For War).” “Firesoul Fly” and “Black Thunder” are also standouts, but you’re not going to find any duds here.
I still haven’t quite forgiven Pretty Maids for bailing on this year’s ProgPower USA festival, but I have to say Undress Your Madness makes it really hard to stay mad at them. It’s another first-rate Pretty Maids album that ranks right up there with the rest of their work this decade, and is without a doubt a contender for best album of 2019. If you’re a fan of melodic rock and melodic metal – whether that’s Eclipse, Jorn, Treat, Masterplan, Pyramaze or TNT – you need to hear this album.
Summary: Another masterpiece from Pretty Maids