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Frontiers (2013)
Rating: 6/10

Germany’s Pink Cream 69 is a hidden gem of melodic metal. Although the band has been releasing music since 1989, many know them as simply “That band Andi Deris was in before he joined Helloween back in 1993.” Okay, that may be the case, but don’t jump to the conclusion that Pink Cream 69 is a Helloween clone.

Also, don’t let the band’s name throw you – they’re not the Pretty Boy Floyd silly, fluff metal the name may bring to mind. Pink Cream 69 is the missing link between glam and power metal. Their latest offering, Ceremonial, bridges the gap between slick rock and muscular metal.

As tempting as it is to judge a book by its cover, the artwork accompanying Ceremonial gives no clue as to the sound that it represents. From the opening riffs of ‘Land Of Confusion’, a style is presented that is reminiscent of many bands of the late 80s / early 90s. The powerful guitar sound is reminiscent of a young Queensrÿche, and the vocal melodies bring to mind the more experimental moments of Winger. While this seems an odd mix at first, it works well. The opening track plods forward with a simple but percussive bass line and a rather generic hard rock groove. While this is a good song, it may not be the best way to open an album.

Ceremonial picks up with the second track, ‘Wasted Years’. This is a classic hard rock anthem in the vein of Winger or even Y&T. The sounds created are classic, and bring the listener back to the rock of years gone by. This seems to be what Pink Cream 69 does best.

‘Special’ is a high point that marries classic hard rock with a dark, muscular guitar approach that is often the realm of the power metal masters. The chorus explodes into a metal anthem that would have been music to the ears of any metalhead in the pre-grunge days. The tribal drumming of ‘Find Your Soul’ becomes a bit overwhelming, but when the band gets into a straight rock groove they find the sweet spot between melody, fury and experimentation.

What becomes apparent through the course of this album is the band’s years of experience. While in some cases this is shown through dated songwriting, such as the Survivor-esque sounds of ‘King For One Day’, it’s also obvious in their tight execution of complex rhythms and experimentation. The opening of ‘Big Machine’ is an impressive bit of guitar and bass work. Later in the same song the band handles a timing stutter that grabs the listener’s attention. These are seasoned musicians who have put enough time into their craft to be able to devise and master perfectly synched execution of music that would make some of today’s young bands cringe with fear.

In the end, Ceremonial is a good album. Is it great? Not really. It won’t be remembered by many as a highlight of 2013, but if you’re a fan of solid hard rock, this is a perfect fit. For those who are missing the more metal moments of Whitesnake or Winger, or the power metal fan looking for some light listening, Pink Cream 69 has what you want.

This is one of the bands that should have been huge during the reign of hair metal. Even today they’re more than capable of a solid release that will bring many back to the time when metal ruled the airwaves.

Jim McDonald

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