Rock OF Ages (UK) Praying Mantis 'Sanctuary' review

Praying Mantis – Sanctuary….

Details: 2009, Frontiers, CD

Just like their nwobhm contemporaries Tygers Of Pan Tang last year,
Praying Mantis, still guided by Tino and Chris Troy, have returned with
what I think is an impressive new album, and for a band occasionally
labelled as disappointingly lightweight since a superb debut way back
when, it’s a deliciously forceful yet still melodic offering too. That
the melody comes by way of guitars rather than layers of keys a clear
contributory factor to this being so impressive.
“Turn The Tide” is apparently the song the band feel will promote
this album, at least initially. Possessing a video clip to support it
it’s definitely accomplished stuff, the acoustic opening suggesting a
ballad yet somehow, thanks to some meatier licks and a forceful vocal
from Mike Freeland it grows to a greater magnitude. Okay, perhaps had
it been up to me I’d have liked to see the heavier, quite modern
sounding mini-epic that provides the album’s title and closes the
release get the spotlight treatment (Sanctuary a close second for my
selection as highlight on the disc) but quite honestly the choice for
the video clip is the only real complaint I’d have on this apart from a
perhaps picky thought that the album is consistently very good but
lacks a real, repeat play demanding, killer track or two.
In terms of style, opener “In Time” has more than a hint of
Euro-metal about it, the swirling guitar motif similar to Stratovarius
whilst later offering “So High” would grace any Helloween album.
Similarity to either band is no bad thing in my book though and both
efforts impress greatly although there’s a bit more of a British feel
to much of the remainder of the album to my ears, “Tears In The Rain”
for instance managing to eclipse both with a particularly impressive
introduction to a song that reminds me of Whitesnake’s “Crying In The
Rain” a touch and actually grows into a song that had Coverdale got
hold of it many years ago could have been huge.
Tracks like “Restless Heart”, “Touch The Rainbow” and “Playing God”
are all hugely enjoyable offerings too that whilst perhaps not unique
enough to stand out if heard in isolation make for a fine overall
package. Actually, in many ways, the Journey-esq “Highway” aside, this
album reminds me of so many British bands down the years, the likes of
FM, Shy, even Magnum and the pre-Americanised Whitesnake on occasion
all entered my thoughts whilst listening. All bands who delivered some
great melodic rock yet didn’t seem to get the all important overseas
breaks. At the very least this deserves to win a few new admirers for
the veteran British band.

Highlight: Tears In The Rain

Score: 3.5/5


3 Responses to “Praying Mantis – Sanctuary”

  1. I’ve always loved this band, despite their mixed history. Time Tells No Lies is an undeniable classic of NWOBHM melodic rock
  2. noddynewbold Says:

    agree more re Time Tells No Lies. Looks like, from the myspace/facebook
    stuff, Mantis are actually making more than a token effort to really
    push this CD as well. Good luck to them i say, maybe they’ll finally
    get some of the rewards they deserved back in the day.