As a life-long practitioner of the Heavy Metal genre and it's countless bastardized offspring, I often found it difficult to sufficiently 'digest' the seemingly never ending array of artists and groups intended to inundate our collective senses. Accordingly, when Horsens, Denmark-born legends Pretty Maids burst upon this scene circa 1984, many US-based fans--myself most definitely included)--were almost entirely unaware of their Glam and Power Metal-tinged activities. Having already been force-fed the hairspray and mascara-encrusted offerings of Guns N' Roses, L.A. Guns, Mötley Crüe and a veritable wealth of lesser-successful artists and groups, it wasn't until the release of of Future World (1987) that many of us took notice. Now, with frontman Ronnie Atkins (née Paul Christensen) having at last announced the release of his highly-anticipated solo effort One Shot, domestic audiences, notably those outside of Japan, finally appear ready to openly embrace his now-trademark deliveries.
On the brilliant One Shot (2021), an expertly assembled eleven song collection of Hard Rock, each track, beginning with the shimmering, refreshingly upbeat “Real” and the understandably introspective--if not outright semi-autobiographical--jewel “One Shot”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included, myself most definitely included. Attempting, or so it would seem, to capitalize on the veritable tidal wave of momentum initiated via the release of the woefully-underrated Undress Your Madness (2019), Atkins and his merry cohorts drive home each key focal point via an ear-pleasing array of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Scoring 'major points' early and often by offering material that highlights his impossibly lengthy tenure at the helm of Pretty Maids while also adding a layer of unique, unparalleled personal insight, he leaves the listener thoroughly enthralled by his initial efforts.
Continuing with the orchestra-laden, emotionally overwrought 'Power Ballad' “Frequency Of Love” and the maddeningly infectious tome “Before The Rise Of An Empire”, the airtight--to say the very least--combination of vocalist Ronnie Atkins, rhythm/lead guitarist Chris Laney (i.e., Atkins's main Pretty Maids co-conspirator), lead guitarists John Berg, Kee Marcello (ex-Europe), Olliver Hartmann and Pontus Norgren, who also handled all bass duties, keyboardist Morten Sandager and drummer Allan Sørensen (ex-Cornerstone, Pretty Maids, ex-Royal Hunt) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Effortlessly easing into familiar territory of yore without borrowing too heavily from his prototypical past, Atkins wastes little, if any, time re-asserting himself within the Hard Rock genre. Achieving a unique sense of consistency despite an unnervingly diverse All-Star line-up, the group surges ahead with the well-deserved swagger of self-confidence.
A self-Produced affair throughout with Mixing duties being expertly 'handled' by the often acclaimed Jacob Hansen (Anubis Gate, Pyramaze and Primal Fear, among others), other standouts, including the hopeful, but fist-pumping, lamentation “I Prophesize” and the smoldering, equally impressive closer “When Dreams Are Not Enough”, only further cement his reputation as a true creative force not to be ignored. The end results, as you've almost assuredly already deduced, of his more-than-considerable efforts are worthy of the highest of critical and commercial accolades. Amid a perfect or even quasi-perfect world, they would be would be treated accordingly, thus propelling Atkins to the dizzying heights of international recognition he so rightfully deserves. Even if you continue to remain entirely unfamiliar with the sprawling Pretty Maids discography, you owe it to yourself, and as a result, those luck enough to be in your immediate vicinity, to wholeheartedly embrace the mighty One Shot.
Is it groundbreaking or revolutionary? Absolutely not. But then again, that's really not the point, now is it? With his health once again tragically failing him (Stage Four Lung Cancer), the majority--if not all--of the oft-ear-pleasing wares contained herein do serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the unabashed 'compositional ingenuity' that have so often defined his career. While seemingly guaranteed to appeal to even the most die-hard of Pretty Maids devotees (particularly those with a penchant for the hook-laden melodicism of their notoriously prolific group's post-Pandemonium, 2010 era), One Shot ultimately succeeds by allowing Atkins to at long last shine on his own terms. Accordingly, if you have once again found yourself in search of refreshingly forthright and, as a result, entirely enjoyable alternative to the painfully blasé atrocities of that are so often forced fed en ass, then this, my friends, might just be the auditory cure for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
One Shot (2021)
Undress Your Madness (2019)
Second Coming (2018)
Nordic Union (2016)
Wake Up To The Real World (2006)
Planet Panic (2002)
Carpe Diem (2000)
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Overdoing (1999)
Jump The Gun (1990)
Future World (1987)
Red Hot and Heavy (1984)
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