Pretty Maids – Pandemonium
Despite the inherent sissiness of their name, Pretty Maids has earned a lot of respect with the metal community for their one-two hit of Red, Hot And Heavy and Future World back in the eighties. I must admit not having heard any of their albums since those wondrous days, but somewhere along the line the Danes must have started to take their moniker a bit too seriously. With a title like Pandemonium one would expect a kick-ass rollercoaster of heavy metal, not a bunch of girls brushing their hair and giggling about boys.
Even so, the record opens in style with a firecracker of a title track which packs a punch reminiscent of “Future World” and “Yellow Rain”. Then alas begins the slow descent into a Bon Jovian nightmare of mellow hard rock and sappy love ballads. “INVU” may be an enormously clever pun, but it’s a plodding track with nary the slightest of hooks. Especially when following a mammoth like “Pandemonium”, it lets down. One high, and one low. Enough time to recover, right?
Wrong. Making the worst possible decision, similar to throwing shards of glass in an open mixer, Pretty Maids doesn’t return to rollicking heavy metal, instead they turn to a sob fest even some boy bands from the nineties would run away from. “Little Drops Of Heaven”, as this monstrosity is called, simply has no business being on a metal release. It’s the kind of thing that’s catchy besides its stupidity, and you’ll hate it for humming it. Do yourself a favor and skip it altogether.
Pandemonium never recovers after this, and even adds more ballads. “Old Enough To Know” and “Breathless” have one redeeming factor: they scientifically can’t be more squirm-inducing than “Little Drops Of Heaven”. There is a stretch in the middle of the album where Pretty Maids almost finds their footing again. “One World One Truth” has a decent chorus, and “Cielo Drive” is a standout bit of murderous fun. The rest is so poppy, it makes Flanders’ fields seem like a blackened pit.
Whatever is going on with Pretty Maids (my best bet is “midlife crisis”), this is a path no self-respecting band would be advised to stay upon. Let’s hope they can pull it together in the future, or quit. Otherwise I may pretend that they did after Future World, and resume living a happy life.
Arno’s Rating: 2.25 out of 5