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PRAYING MANTIS Sanctuary (2009)

Praying Mantis

For a band that first split in 1982 and will indelibly be associated with the NWOBHM era, Praying Mantis have enjoyed a surprisingly durable career, helped by their popularity in the Far East, and it is good to see founding members Chris (guitar) and Tino (bass) Troy back with a new line up and their first release in six years.

All the Mantis trademarks are there - quality melodic guitar work with periodic twin lead breaks, big backing vocals and thoughtful arrangements.

But the biggest impression is how contemporary the album sounds, with something of a symphonic metal feel - indeed opener In Time almost verges on power metal.

Generally the songs take a few listens before they embed themselves, but Tears in the Rain and Restless Heart (not AOR power ballads, whatever the titles might suggest!) and the more immediate So High and Touch the Rainbow all impress.

Highway, which does what it says on the tin, is perhaps the most obviously commercial song on offer, though it was tantalisingly familiar in places.

The one slight disappointment is that new singer Mike Freeland, though he has the right kind of voice for the material, does not impose himself as he might. Nevertheless this is a quality album from an enduring, if cult, British institution.


Review by Andy Nathan

Best of 2009

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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