“Louder Than Ever” serves a dual purpose for Danish hard rockers, Pretty Maids; it bridges their successful 2013 release “Motherland” with their next album, while also give fans a taste of new music combined with re-recorded classics. The record includes four new tracks and eight classics from the 1995-2006 era performed by the current line-up. The band chose not use tracks from its first dozen years as both fans and band consider them sacrosanct. Also included is a DVD retrospective of the “Motherland” 2013 world tour, including some nice archive footage.
The band was founded in 1981 by vocalist Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer. The duo remain the enduring face of Pretty Maids which includes bassist Rene Shades, drummer Allen Tschicaja and keyboardist Morten Sandager. The latter two joined in 2006, and Shades signed on in 2011.
While Pretty Maids never really made an impact in America outside of its 1987 album “Future World“, the band’s body of work is deep and rich with melodic heavy rock. If Def Leppard were to ever heavy themselves up and grow a pair, the result might be Pretty Maids. For those who have not really experienced the band prior to “Pandemonium” (2010) and “Motherland“, “Louder Than Ever” is a just the ticket to the prodigious vault of sonic magnificence.
Produced by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Primal Fear, Doro), “Louder Than Ever” finds Hammer continuing to write instantly memorable and addictive songs, with heavy guitars, catchy melodies, and big vocals.
To be clear, “Louder Than Ever” is not a greatest hits compilation. In fact, only the track “With These Eyes” from 1999′s “Anything Worth Doing, Is Worth Overdoing” was even released as a single. From the same album the band offered up a fresh rendition of “Snakes in Eden”.
“Pandemonium” and “Motherland” are arguably the band’s most impressive albums since 2002′s “Planet Panic” from which the band re-energized three tracks: “Playing God”, “Virtual Brutality” and “He Who Never Lived”. The oldest remake on the record is “Psycho Time Bomb – Planet Earth” from 95′s “Scream” album.
The remaining two do-overs include “Tortured Spirit” from “Carpe Diem” (2000) and the amazing remake of the title track from 2006′s “Wake Up to the Real World“.
The album also features four new tracks, from the riff-edgy and hooky album opener, “Deranged” and the infectious rocker, “My Soul To Take”.
There is something about an air raid warning siren that sends shivers across the skin, and Pretty Maids uses that to kick off the meatiest of the record’s new tracks, “Nuclear Boomerang.” A powerful indictment of “the vampires of violence, the leeches of war.” The track recalls the vibe of the “Future World” era of the band. The last of the new tracks is the ballad, “A Heart Without a Home”.
“Louder Than Ever” showcases a band built on tremendous songwriting which defies trends and is consistent in its impressive musical output. There is simply not a bad track on this album, old or new, and this is easily one of the more addictive albums likely to be released in 2014.