Next review: » Praying Mantis - The Journey Goes On
The Journey Goes On
Released: 2003, Frontiers
Historically, this band is a bit of an odd duck. Formed in 1974 just pre-NWOBHM the band debut EP came out in 1980 and a full-length in 1981. They rode the 80’s rarely recording, doing tours and riding NWOBHM nostalgia and the various affiliations with Maiden. Suddenly, it is the early-90’s and the band hits full stride and started releasing album after album. In fact they have had ten releases since 1991 mostly on Japanese labels. They are one of the few NWOBHM acts from the 90’s!!
The two founding members Tino and Chris Troy have remained stable and consistent with a revolving doors of who’s who of drummers, guitarists and singers who made a name for themselves during the NWOBHM. The latest singer on this CD is Dennis Stratton (again!) Doogie White is billed as guest vocalist on four of the nine tracks.
In all honesty I’ve only heard a couple of PM albums and although I professionally am full of admiration for the band to have survived so long, I must admit I have never felt the urge to run out and buy the expensive Japanese imports. I suppose like many people I have the ultimately incorrect impression that these guys are a washed-up 70’s band. However that is totally unfair and inaccurate assessment because as I mentioned they were most active since 1990. Regardless of what era the songs were recorded they still have that classic melodic rock/metal feel.
Over the years I have come to enjoy bands like older Whitesnake, UFO and BOC and so on and I feel that a fan of those bands would not go wrong with Praying Mantis. The songs are well constructed and have good arrangements, quite long overall but not into the 10+ prog realm…just interesting songs. Sonically this band is not ‘heavy’ in many senses and will be readily written off as ‘wimpy’ (or whatever) by younger fans craving straight metal aggression.
The title track has some tasty guitar work, elegant, understated, and quite smooth. In fact just about every track does! The vocals are rich, warm and smooth and if I had to choose I’d choose Doogie’s actually! The tempo of the songs are slow to mid paced, never really cutting loose…no double kick for these guys! Despite both Tony and Chris being listed as keyboardist (a potential kiss of death for nay metal band!) the keys are not that prominent. The guitar is first and foremost.
At first this album did little for me but it grew on me as the craftsmanship shone through and despite a lack of heaviness Praying Mantis slowly won me over. Good production, good presentation, good songs make for a good album, not stellar and mind-blowing but enough to recommend for fans of NWOBHM and well delivered classic melodic rock.
2. The Escape
3. The Journey Goes On
4. Silent War
5. Beast Within
6. Hold On For Love
7. If tomorrow Never Comes
8. Lost World
Tino Troy-Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards
Chris Troy-Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards
Dennis Stratton-Guitars, vocals
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The Journey Goes On
Released: 2003, Frontiers Records
Another NWOBHM act rears its head. I will be frank. I didn’t know a hell of a lot about Praying Mantis before I sat down to write this review. Of course I had heard their track on the Metal For Muthas compilation but other than that they were an obscure part of the movement that spawned Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard. Born in 1977 Praying Mantis was the brainchild of brothers Timo and Chris Troy. They released their first demo in 1979 which led to their inclusion on the METAL FOR MUTHAS compilation. The success of the the album got them the opening slot on the first Iron Maiden UK tour. They recorded their debut album TIME TELLS NO TALES but the album unfortunately didn’t have much commercial appeal and by 1985 the band had added ex Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr and changed their name to Stratus. Stratus released the disc THROWING SHAPES. By 1990 the brothers had decided to reform Praying Mantis and welcomed aboard former Iron Maiden members Paul Dianno and Dennis Stratton. The success of this reunion convinced the brothers to continue on with a more permanent lineup. With a number of different vocalists, and other lineup changes, Praying Mantis went on to record a number of CDs including: A CRY FOR THE NEW WORLD (1993), TO THE POWER OF TEN (1995), DEMORABILIA (1999) and NOWHERE TO HIDE (2000).
On the heaviness scale of the NWOBHM Praying Mantis slot in very low. They play a style that is much more hard rock than balls out metal. This release also sees the band use a couple of guest vocalists along with the vocals provided by the brothers and Stratton. The first is John Sloman (Gary Moore) who opens the disc with “Tonight” and also adds vocals on “Beast Within” and “The Voice”. “Tonight” is the best of his contributions with Sloman using his slick voice to carry this mid tempo, infectious rocker. The second guest on vocals is Dougie White who most recently was heard on the latest Yngwie Malmsteen disc ATTACK. White handles the vocals on 4 tracks including “The Escape”, “Lost World” and possibly the best song on the CD “Hold on For Love”. Whites voice is a tad more aggressive than Sloman’s and makes for a great mix when added to the Mantis tunes. The notes don’t say which band member handles the remaining couple of tracks but its safe to say that though they are adequate its Sloman and White who are the stars in the vocal department.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this disc. Not having heard any other Praying Mantis material I was surprised that they leaned in such a melodic direction. Their sound is more AOR than metal but there is no doubting their pedigree. These guys were there for the NWOBHM and helped shape the direction of metal in the late 70s and early 80s. They are still releasing quality material that though leaning in a more melodic direction might still be interesting to anyone who likes well crafted hard rock.
2: The Escape
3: The Journey Goes On
4: Silent War
5: Beast Within
6: Hold On For Love
7: If Tomorrow Never Comes
8: Lost World
9: The Voice
Chris Troy : bass, lead and background vocals and keyboards
Dennis Stratton: guitars, lead and background vocals
Tino Troy: guitars, lead and background vocals and keyboards
John Sloman: vocals
Dougie White: vocals
Martin Johnson: drums
Previous review: » Praying Mantis - Sanctuary