NWOBHM or New Wave of British Heavy Metal might be one of the most significant developments in Heavy Metal for old folks like me. Out of the foundation that Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple created came the harder and tougher edged sound that was led by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Diamond Head, Def Leppard, and many more iconic bands. Of course from that we had the split of fans moving to Glam and some moving to Thrash. This split again to the extreme genres we have today. What I’m trying to get at is, obviously without Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Purple we would not have Heavy Metal, but without NWOBHM we wouldn’t have it in the multiple forms we love today.
Needless to say when a band is sent to me that not only claims to be NWOBHM, but is listed in the “unofficial” guide as one of the bands actually around in the 1970s to guide the music; I get pretty excited. Praying Mantis is one of those bands and they sent over their 30th Anniversary EP celebrating 30 years since the release of their iconic album “Time Tells No Lies.”
The album titled “Metalmorphosis” isn’t a rerelease of the original album. It contains the current lineup rerecording some of their greatest songs. A couple were on “Time Tells No Lies,” but I have to emphasize it’s not a rerelease of the same material. This is a celebration of the album by the new line-up. Unusual yes, but not unheard of.
More Praying Mantis after the warp:
“Metalmorphosis” is exactly that. When listening to the five tracks “Children of Earth,” “Praying Mantis,” “Lovers to the Grave,” “Panic in the Street,” and “Captured City,” you hear the band morph. They start out with the soaring vocals and harder edged guitar of NWOBHM and slowly progress to the easy listening styling’s of AOR or Adult Oriented Rock. It was a weird mix for me that I had a hard time wrapping my head around on the first listen.
As you dig around in the band’s history you will find they had numerous issues with management and membership that lead to them breaking up in the height of the movement. Although they had already started the transition to AOR you have to wonder if that was a management push due to the underground status of NWOBHM during that time frame. Praying Mantis did reform in 1990 and have been producing albums ever since on a 1 every 2 to 3 year basis.
By the third listen you can easily hear and jam with Praying Mantis on Metalmorphosis. I never once thought the music was bad, but going in with the thought of them being compared to Iron Maiden gave me some expectations that very few can live up to. If you were into bands going from a “metal like” state to a more radio friendly sound than Praying Mantis is perfect for you. It’s like a history lesson on one direction Metal went after New Wave.
You can get details on “Metalmorphosis” at www.praying-mantis.com and check out their new video below: Witch Hunt. All proceeds are going to Japan to help with Earthquake relief.
Show me your horns,