It is hoped people will add their views on the album to the Sanctuary Discography page. Here are reviews found so far on the net (also on the Santuary page)
C M Distro Website
June 2nd, 2009 on 12:17 pm editEntitled “Sanctuary” the new CD is again very personal with plenty of great melodies and songs. The mix of lead and harmony guitar breaks and solos with great vocals and keyboards is fantastic with an overall songwriting on the highest levels all over. What we have here is a band that contains some very fine and experienced musicians who have put together a collection of songs that create a really classic album. (2009)
Classic Rock Magazine July 09
June 2nd, 2009 on 12:24 pm editThough perceived as New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts, Praying Mantis pre-date the movement and always had more melodic leanings than their rivals. Plagued by bad luck, dodgy deals and shifting line-ups (Past vocalists include Bernie Shaw, Gary Barden, Tony O’Hora and Paul Di’Anno), Mantis fragmented in the mid 80’s before being lured back by the Japanese market. But core members Tino and Chris Troy have consistently delivered the goods. Recorded in Atlanta with FM, Romeo’s Daughter and Bruce Dickenson producer Andy Reilly, Sanctuary is big on hooks and drama, befitting a hugely underrated group of musicians. Though unable to match O’Hora’s sheer bluster and less expressive than Shaw, singer Mike Freeland registers a highly credible debut, excelling on the commercial hard rock of “In time” and “Tears in The rain”, also blending well with the Mantis sound during the big ballad “Lonely Way Home”. Sanctuary is a fine album that ticks many different boxes. 8/10
Melodic.net’s Juha Harjula
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:16 pm editSpanish-Greek brothers Tino and Chris Troy returns with a brand new Praying Mantis album called Sanctuary. Their last studio album was released in 2003 called The Journey Goes On, an album that featured different singers and most notably was John Sloman (ex-Lone Star) and Dougie White (Malmsteen, Rainbow, Cornerstone).
Throughout the years, Praying Mantis has had various singers such as Bernie Shaw ((Uriah Heep), Paul Di’Anno (ex-Iron Maiden), Gary Barden (ex-MSG), Mark Thompson-Smith , Tony O’Hora and one of my favourites Colin Peel.
Yes, they have a new singer for Sanctuary called Mike Freeland and where they have found a perfect singer for their sound.
Mike has a fantastic voice that really surprised me and I have to say that he has given Praying Mantis new life and they sound hungry again.
The sound is more AORish than before and the melodies are brilliant and so are the harmonies and arrangements. The album is very even with a couple of highlights that are damn fine tracks. Just listen to the great Restless Heart with a stunning chorus. Tears In The Rain is a strong mid-tempo song and what a vocal performance Mike deliver, outstanding.
If youre into Pompish stuff, then check out So High (not the Touch song) but it reminds of Touch, the riffs are great and the chorus is huge.
The ballad Lonely Way Home is strong one with classy harmony vocals in the chorus. The song Highway must be a tribute to Journey because this sounds so much Journey with great Neal Schon-like guitars, the melodies are pure bliss and the chorus is so much Journey, fantastic song.
The production is crystal clear and has been done under the direction of producer/engineer Andy Reilly (Asia, The Cult, FM) with a great result. So if you thought Praying Mantis was done then youre wrong because their new album is a strong one and they are back for sure and with a new strong singer.
This is an album that is worth checking out.
I’m also glad that they have gone for the more AORish sound without losing the trademarks of Praying Mantis. A great album.
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:23 pm editA few years ago I had a great interview with Tino and Chris Troy, two brother Greek brothers from England at the Bang Your Head Festival. They kind of told me their life-story about how their band Praying Mantis became kind of cult-band in the N.W.O.B.H.M period that brought us bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead and Saxon. Praying Mantis also had a chance to make it very big but wrong decisions made by the brothers were responsible for the band staying in the shadows of the bands mentioned above forever. Still they managed to stay in the spotlight because they had quite a few famous musicians amongst them over the years. Not less than three of them also played in Iron Maiden, I am talking about Dennis Stratton, Cliff Burr and Paul Di’ Anno. Also vocalist Gary Barden did his thing with this band and put his mark on the ‘Captured Alive In Tokyo City’ album. Good melodic rock songs sung by star vocalists was always the trademark of this British band and I was wondering what the present would bring once I first noticed two years ago they had attracted a fairly unknown vocalist in Mike Freeland.
When I saw him perform on for the first time on the Bang Your Head Festival I wasn’t that impressed with him but as I learned later, this guy was still very insecure and hadn’t much experience working a big crowd like on that festival. But now two years later, he is still in the band and had his experiences with the rest of the guys playing some more festivals and gigs. On the new album ‘Sanctuary’ it’s the first time Mike Freeland gets his fair chance to let the public hear what he is capable of and I can assure you that is no disappointing experience. The band has managed to come up with ten very strong new songs that have a refreshing Praying Mantis sound that has been modernized to this time.
A very good choice to open this new CD with is the fast ‘In Time’ tune. With this song the guys immediately gives their sign towards the listening public what quality this British band is about. ‘Sanctuary’ is a great mix between powerful rock and beautiful ballads. My personal highlight is the third song on this disk that is called ‘Tears In The Rain’, a heavy ballad with some bluesy guitars and a dreamy rhythm. This song really showcases the abilities of vocalist Mike Freeland that he is the right choice for Praying Mantis. This album is everything a melodic rock fan needs, go check it out yourself! 91/100
Power Of Metal’s Tye Brown
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:31 pm editAs I sit here for what seems like hours looking at a blank screen and listening to the brand new album by Praying Mantis, “Sanctuary”, it occurs to me that this brilliant album is going to be damn hard to try and put into words. The feelings and emotions I feel when I listen to “Sanctuary” are indescribable; it puts me in my happy place!!! The resurrection of Praying Mantis began in the summer 2007 when they played at the Bang Your Head Festival. Consisting of original members the Troy brothers on guitar & bass Benjy Reid on drums, Andy Burgess on guitar and Mike Freeland on vocals.
“Sanctuary” is filled with plenty of great melodies that will stay in your head for days. The lead and harmony guitar work is sensational with great solos, all filled with just enough keyboards. I must say, the most impressive thing on “Sanctuary” is the singer Mike Freeland, sensational. At times he reminds me Terry Ilous from XYZ in parts and I can even hear some Michael Kiske. Were ever they found Mike they need to keep a tight hold on him. I personally think he makes this album.
This is classic English melodic rock/AOR. Think bands like TEN, Bob Catley (Magnum) and Whitesnake. I really can’t pick any one good song, because there is no filler on “Sanctuary” just 10 cracking rock anthems. But in saying that, “Sanctuary” won’t knock you off your feet the first listen. You need to take the time to let the songs unravel and discover their beauty. This is a well put together album by some real professional musicians and it tells. If you get the chance to see Praying Mantis over the summer you should not hesitate to go & make sure you buy a copy of “Sanctuary” a must have album for any rock fan. 87/100
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:39 pm editPraying Mantis will forever be associated with the NWoBHM, but are in fact far more melodic. Think Magnum without the pomp and more of a metal (twin guitar) edge.
The band split in the early 80s after one classic album, but reformed in 1990 and have sporadically produced some fine albums along the way. This is no exception, from the outset it is thoroughly listenable. Opener “In Time” shows how well the new line-up is gelling. Still with bassist Chris Troy and guitarist Tino Troy leading the helm, the sound moves smoothly between polished AOR and pounding hard rock. “Tears In The Rain” is far more searing than the title suggests, although there is a hint of Heavy Pettin’. “So High”, in comparison, is an all out hard rocker with some intricate guitar work.
If Iron Maiden ever made a melodic rock album, it could easily sound like “Threshold Of A Dream” or “Playing God”. From beginning to end, an excellent album that at no point do you want to skip through.
Sadly, one of the best tracks (there’s no tracklist on this CDr) is a bonus on the Japanese only release. Well worth searching out.
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:42 pm editFor 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.
Destiny Records’ D.Cockett
June 2nd, 2009 on 1:50 pm editAlthough their origins will forever be inextricably linked with the NWOBHM, Praying Mantis were never really what you’d call an atypical metal band. Whilst most of their contemporaries were content to trade in simplistic riffs and even simpler songs, Praying Mantis had loftier, decidedly more melody friendly ambitions. Founded by the Troy brothers (guitarist Tino and bassist Chris) in the late 70’s, the band soon found themselves swept up in the furore that surrounded the likes of Iron Maiden and Diamond Head, yet despite regularly supporting Steve Harris’ mob and issuing an acclaimed debut (’Time Tells No Lies’), from a commercial point of view they weren’t particularly successful. After the usual line up shuffles, periods of down time and a brief name change to Stratus, Praying Mantis regrouped in the early 90’s, and bolstered by their successes in Japan, released a string of great studio albums throughout the 90’s and into the early part of this century. Last we heard from the band was via 2003’s ‘The Journey Goes On’, but now after another lengthy hiatus, they’re back, and on the strength of ‘Sanctuary’ sounded as good as (if not better than) ever! Along with the Troy brothers, this latest incarnation of the band is completed by Benjy Reid (drums), Andy Burgess (guitars) and vocalist Mike Freeland. Slick, sophisticated and polished, ‘Sanctuary’ oozes class from every pore, each of the ten songs within containing the sort of hooks and melodies most hard rock bands would literally kill for. Stylistically speaking, it isn’t a million miles from what they’ve done before, although I do like the ‘Kamelot goes AOR’ undercurrent which threads it way through opener ‘In Time’. Freeland has one of those powerful, booming hard rock voices that fits the music perfectly, and the band sound as tight and relaxed as I’ve ever heard them. And to be honest, as I listen to the likes of ‘Lonely Way Home’, ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Playing God’ and ‘Tears In The Rain’, that evident self belief shines through like a beacon of light in the darkness. Put it this way, if TNT had followed up ‘My Religion’ with an album even half as good as ‘Sanctuary’, everybody would have gone nuts … here’s hoping it won’t be another six years! Fantastic! (D.Cockett)
Rock Realms Website
June 4th, 2009 on 4:38 pm editAlbum Review: Sanctuary (2009)
For fans of: Hard Rock… and a fine addition to long-term discography
Praying Mantis – Sanctuary
Praying Mantis were former in the late 70’s by brothers Tino and Chris Troy. They supported the first tour Iron Maiden did in the UK and recorded a debut album, Time Tells No Lies, with Dave Potts on drums and Steve Carroll on guitars and vocals.
After working their way through several members, appearances at various festivals, changing their name a couple of times, more line-up changes and several more albums and festival appearances, the band – now consisting of Mike Freeland (vocals), Andy Burgess (guitars), Benjy Reid (drums), Tino Troy (guitars and vocals) and Chris Troy (bass and vocals) – are back with album no. 9.
I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing any of their earlier work, but it’s often compared to NWOBHM bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon and so on. Have to say the music on Sanctuary is considerably lighter and more melodious than typical NWOBHM fare. But, not to panic, that doesn’t mean it ain’t as good. Far from it. Sanctuary has a hell of a lot going for it.
The opening track ‘In Time’ is speedy in places, sort of Dragonforce-lite if you like. There’s no real heaviness to the track but it still rocks. The underlying BPM is right on the money for that epic vitality. ‘Restless Heart’ goes all Westcoast USA, maybe with a softening hint of Middle England. It’s a friendly inoffensive track with a vintage persona. There are definite hints of Michael Kiske’s work with Place Vendome in the mix. It’s a real grower.
‘Tears In The Rain’ is a pleasant ballad with a heavyweight edge and a beautiful main theme. It’s full of expression and sweet-sounding melodies, and the guitar work is incredibly poignant but full of subliminal power. Mike Freeland’s voice isn’t technically brilliant but he has a certain something going on that gives him bags of plus-point character. ‘Lonely Way Home’ is arguably an even better track. Another ballad, it isn’t as ‘metal’ as the previous effort and consequently has a greater emotional appeal. M.F. puts his heart into the track and it shows… in spades.
‘Touch The Rainbow’ is a straight ahead rocker with a tinge of Eastern mysticism. As a whole the song doesn’t really get the pulse racing, but there are moments which catch your attention. ‘Threshold Of A Dream’ sounds like a song that would be amazing live. The main riff is as heavy as a heavy thing, but on the album it’s a tad subdued. The result is a song with obvious potential not realised.
‘Highway’ is a spunky upbeat track, again with strong hints of Westcoast AOR. It’s a definite driving song, even without taking the title into account. The final track, also the title track, goes considerably heavier – although again it’s a smothered heaviness. It’s like listening to a metal band through tinny speakers. Maybe the sound has deliberately been held back to appeal to a wider audience… it’s a shame because this could be a stunning track if it had more in the way of balls.
Sanctuary is a fine album with a couple of truly excellent moments. However, as mentioned, the production job either inadvertently or purposefully robs the release of some much needed horsepower. The end result is good, and the quality of the writing and performances really shine through, but as a package it leaves a taste of ‘what if?’ in your mouth.
Check out… The vocals. Mike Freeland should get his voice on albums more often!
Sakis Nikas from Rockpages
June 16th, 2009 on 8:37 am editEvery single release by Praying Mantis is a guarantee for a pleasant –to say the least- sonic result. Melodic metal guitar riffs, uplifting choruses, catchy tunes (even by the first time that you listen to them) etc. All the hardcore, purist N.W.O.B.H.M. fans have denounced them for their transgression from the sound of that excellent debut of the early 80s, but the truth is that Praying Mantis have released much better records since then…
“Sanctuary” does not stray from the aforementioned rule…there are songs in there like “Lonely Way Home” and “Touch The Rainbow” that still impress even the most reserved listener and a couple ones that simply cannot stand the test or the comparison with the past. Isn’t that natural, after all? Who really expected a new “Best Years” or a new “Can’t See The Angels” from Praying Mantis in 2009? The good thing is that the atmosphere of “Sanctuary” remains the same with the familiar Praying Mantis albums and that’s the most important fact!
Highlight: Impressive cover sleeve…
Grigoris at Metal Temple
June 16th, 2009 on 8:42 am editThe most crucial fact in the whole history of this excellent band was that – due to a couple or more reasons – PRAYING MANTIS stayed in the shade of compatriot bands instead of climbing up in the ranking of household NWOBHM names in the 80s. Whoever’s grown with British Metal forged two or three decades ago surely praises the band’s “Time Tells No Lies” (1981) debut masterpiece, while a whole new generation of fans got themselves familiar with the Troy brothers’ reincarnation as MANTIS raised from its ashes in the late 80s…
…and still hang up with good music in order for us to have a good time with their – the last 20 years – melodic Hard Rock/Metal music. Well, ’Metal’ is not a strong scenario describing the quintet’s post-80s deeds indeed, but – in any way – PRAYING MANTIS runs a second youth and a faithful clan of hard rockers and traditional metalheads still honor each and every album of the British band’s CD’s after 1991’s “Predators In Disguise” album.
PRAYING MANTIS cut their teeth in 1979 with a maxi-single entitled “The Soundhouse Tapes” and in the “Metal For Muthas” 1980 compilation. Apart from Tino and Chris Troy there has been a typhoon of lineup changes taking place all these years, with established names – especially singers – joining the MANTIS camp: Paul Dianno (IRON MAIDEN, BATTLEZONE, KILLERS), Gary Barden (MSG, STATETROOPER), John Sloman (URIAH HEEP), Doogie White (RAINBOW, Y. Malmsteen, TANK), Bruce Bisland (WEAPON, WILDFIRE, TANK, STATETROOPER), Clive Burr (IRON MAIDEN, ELIXIR) and Dennis Stratton (IRON MAIDEN, LIONHEART).
Now, six years after their “The Journey Goes On” CD it’s time for “Sanctuary” to hit the stores. Chris stated, by the way: “the album title has no relationship to them [IRON MAIDEN]!! However, we do share some history and maybe this album will put us up there with them”. The new CD sees a couple of crucial evidence taking place. First of all, and as expected by many, there’s a new singer behind the mic: Mike Freeland. He appeared with the MANTIS in 2007’s ’Bang Your Head!!!’ fest in Germany and reports stated that his was quite good even if kinda shocked by the crowd’s volume. Well, what we listen to in “Sanctuary” is some very talented and passionate vocalist – a mix of Steve Perry (JOURNEY), Jonathan K. (Q5, NIGHTSHADE) and Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN)? – who really fits to the bands melodic music, while he cleverly exposes both his own vibe and the ’80s’ attributes needed to support the songlist featured. He can scream and sound sensational in e.g. songs like “In Time”, “Tears In The Rain” and “Lonely Way Home”; the demanding PM devotee can confirm that. Thus, in general, thumbs up for Mike!
The next fact dressing this new MANTIS album is the quintet’s flirt with more AOR sounds – some songs or song parts may even bring the fast blend of JOURNEY to mind – and some modern patterns in the production. Andy Reilly (ASIA, THE CULT, BRUCE DICKINSON, FM etc) has done a marvelous job in the songs’ sound, succeeding in building up a fresh vibe while not abandoning everything PRAYING MANTIS related. This meaning, “Sanctuary” is again full of mature melodic Hard rock songs with a serious work being unveiled in – apart from the pre-mentioned -tracks like “Restless Heart”, “Threshold Of A Dream” and the same-titled ending cut.
The eighth studio album from PRAYING MANTIS is here; the fast songs (”Playing God” rulez!), the guitars leads, the melodic hooks, the efficient keyboards back-up…A fresh offering that cannot let down the legendary band’s fans, I think/hope. Listening to again this wonderful ballad named “Lonely Way Home”, it’s a blessing PRAYING MANTIS succeeded again in offering an excellent amalgam of the old/vintage and melodic/fresh style we love and need. Glad to have you back, guys!
Alan Holloway @ Rockunited
June 17th, 2009 on 4:20 pm editPRAYING MANTIS: “Sanctuary” 8
Review by Alan Holloway,
8th June 2009
Well here’s a surprise – when I saw Praying mantis last year I wasn’t really that impressed, so when I was asked to review “Sanctuary” I expected a NWOBHM flavoured slice of average pie. What Praying Mantis have delivered is a very nice AOR album that could just see them reinvented as a growing concern in the melodic rock scene. I know – who would have thought it?
The main reason for this change in direction seems to be vocalist Mike Freeland, who has a great, pitch perfect voice in the higher register, almost reaching Steve Perry territory during the chorus during the appropriately named “So High”. Let’s not forget the rest of the band here, as the playing on “Sanctuary” is exemplary, including some really nice guitar work from Andy Burgess and founder member Tino Troy. Troy’s brother Chris, who plays bass, has written some great songs here, and as a result, “Sanctuary” can hold it’s head up amongst many of the better melodic rock albums out there today.
If you like a good dose of Journey or Boston then this is an album that should really appeal to you, although Praying Mantis still manage to keep a good dose of their own identity. When “Sanctuary” works, it works very well indeed, and I have to recommend it to any and all fans of quality melodic rock out there.
Victor at Metal Guide Blogspot
June 17th, 2009 on 4:21 pm editThe history of the band goes back into the 70’s, and this is their new album. After a short break for a couple of years, original band members Troy brothers, are back once again, with a new line up. What stayed the same though is the style of music, with the band playing a very interesting and catchy style. Blending AOR, bits of Classic Metal and NWOBHM, and tons of melodies, Praying Mantis managed to create a noticeable album, something that will please both old and new fans. Melodic songs, with warm vocals, memorable choruses and parts easy to sing along, are the key elements of this album, and the ones that make it very easy for the listener. But besides that, there are many things to discover, with a closer and more cautious listening. Wisely used keyboard lines add a depth to the whole album, while the songwriting is excellent, with no weak moments, or things that could have been done better. The production is also moving to the same high level, completing a very good release in the best possible way. If you like the work of the band so far, or you are into AOR and Melodic Metal in general, then this album is one of those you should check out.
July 6th, 2009 on 7:31 pm editCanberra Times (OZ) – Sanctuary Review
Amazingly, Brit Rockers PM have been at this game for over thirty years now, having shared stages with all of the giants of the New Wave of Heavy Metal scene in the early eighties. A sorry combination of poor management, labels and luck conspired to put the band on the back foot when their no-more-talented rivals were making good with the prize; So 2009 sees the band returning to the fray with a fine album choc full of classy melodic hard rock but none of the fanfare that saw the recent release of compadres’ Iron Maiden’s nostalgia-plus cash fest Flight 666. Which is a shame, because, in the songwriting stakes at least, Mantis yield to no one. One listen to the likes of the majestic So High will attest to that, with band mainstays the Troy Brothers (Chris and Tino) and throatsmith Mike Freeland all putting in top-notch performances that’ll have the unsuspecting bystander crying out for more. The class doesn’t let up for a minute, and if you have a yen for high quality, sophisticated hard rock , then this is the album you need.
July 6th, 2009 on 7:34 pm editBurrn! magazine – Japan – ‘Sanctuary’ Review
Long awaited new album after an interval of 6 years. Mike Freeland, Andy Burgess joined so rest of Tino & Chris Troy brothers are completely changed, however smooth and melodious Mantis-bushi remains same. New vocalist has clean and high tone vocal like Colin Peel so he fits the band.
Actually, from hard tune it featured uplift melody to light melodious number and Ballad, his voice supports base of new Mantis.
It seems like Troy brothers project, by the absence of Dennis Stratton because of musical dissension, but as we hear the tune, it is a revival work with the persuasive power is filled.
Metal as F**K
July 6th, 2009 on 7:37 pm editAustralian mag ‘Metal as F**k’ – ‘Sanctuary’ Review
No nostalgia trip here, NWOBHM originals Praying Mantis deliver a stunning rock/AOR album with no sign of flab, grey hair or walking frames.
Brother’s Chris and Tino Troy first started playing back in the early seventies (Chris on bass and Tino on guitar), and Praying Mantis is without a doubt their creation and their baby. Unfortunately for them, from the beginning when the band was at the forefront of the burgeoning NWOBHM scene they’ve always had trouble keeping a steady lineup, which has seen them miss out on the peaks that fellow travelers such as Iron Maiden have reached. In fact, the band have shared a few members, with former Maiden drummer Clive Burr joining the band in the mid 80s when they underwent a name change (to Stratus), and recent Aussie visitor Paul Di’Anno sang for Praying Mantis in 1990.
But this is a new millennium, a new line-up and a new album, so let’s forget the past glories (or lack of them) and concentrate on Sanctuary.
Although, having said that, it is kind of hard to forget the past with a band whose sound encompasses so much of that past. With lashings of twin guitar work courtesy of Tino and Andy Burgess, great melodies, vocalist Mike Freeland – who at times reminds me of David Coverdale and Joe Lynn Turner – along with the touches of Def Leppard, Journey, Whitesnake’s peak 80s commercial period, as well as latter-day Rainbow that drift through this album, you can see that Chris, Tino and the band are not shy about looking backwards to move forwards.
From the twin guitar riffs that launch the album’s opener In Time, this is an album propelled forward by great playing, great singing, solid rhythm and more hooks than Ali Vs Frazier II. So High, Playing God, Highway and the title track Sanctuary are highlights for me, but hell there isn’t a bad track anyway – except maybe for the obligatory ballad Lonely Way Home, which ain’t bad but is no Paul Stanley rock ballad, if you get my drift.
What you get here is a band that is quietly confident in their ability to rock out, aren’t ashamed to be commercially viable, and can deliver the goods. There are plenty of young bands out there looking back for inspiration. But these guys were there the whole time and the difference shows. Absolute classic AOR rock.
Praying Mantis’s Sanctuary is out now on Frontiers/Riot.
July 6th, 2009 on 7:42 pm editMetal Dreams ‘Sanctuary’ Review
For those who do not have too many references to the band of brothers Tino and Chris Troy commented that in 1981 released their first album, “Time Tell No Lies,” which is considered one of the core of the NWOBHM and at that time were themselves Iron Maiden Paul Di’Anno..
In the following years passed through their ranks Bernie Shaw of Uriah Heep and Clive Burr from Iron Maiden, but then turned under the name Stratus. In 1990 joined Paul Di’Anno and Dennis Stratton, both former members of the Maiden. The following were Gary Barden on vocals and Statetrooper MSG and brilliant Tony O’Hora, who recorded their best albums in years (Forever in Time, Nowhere To Hide). In their last album also collaborated Dougie White (Rainbow, Y. Malmsteen) and full back with a remarkable 2009 album called “Sanctuary,” where have the services of vocalist Mike Freeland, “Sanctuary” has been recorded in the USA and returns Praying Mantis the most genuine, so fans of the band are in luck.
Their style is as individual as usual, halfway between Heavy Metal and Hard Rock melodic harmonies and elegant where you have to appreciate the contribution of Mike Freeland, not for anything in the personal world of “Mantis religion.. As I see it “Sanctuary” falls below a few tenths of that fantastic album of 2000 “Nowhere To Hide,” however I must point out that each new listener hooked me more and more, and in general I think a remarkable work.
The album begins with “In Time”, which includes the usual bent simple melodies so personal and original of the brothers that Troy and liveliness that is always appreciated. “Restless Heart” on his part brings a chorus full of great choruses. “”Tears In The Rain” is denser; we found beautiful vocal melodies on guitar arpeggios clean. The fourth issue is one of the highlights of the new release, “So High,” a very moving show where they do best, a superb bill of Heavy Metal which emphasizes the catchy chorus. The first hit single and video clip of the cd is entitled “Lonely Way Home”, a beautiful ballad that has appeared subsequently under the title “Turn The Tide” and that,to me, is the best issue of the British in this new journey.
“Touch The Rainbow” again set foot on the accelerator and the new crop MANTIS more genuine Freeland’s work is commendable. Continue with the acoustic “Threshold Of A Dream”, which then retrieves the most metal DICTUS and transforms the song into a really powerful. In “Playing God” is missed very close to “Nowhere To Hide,” which introduced a wraparound keyboard and chorus vocals mark infested home.. And as colophon, “Highway,” which is the most commercial album, the final and most hard rocking “Sanctuary,” which does not differ at all in the style so far and commented that it is also a matter of filling it for the closing album.
Ultimately, one of the bands “damn” our style just drawn from the hat and other prominent magical cd that probably pass unnoticed as the general public like the rest of his discography, however, who appreciated the tireless fighters unjustly neglected and ostracized will have the opportunity to enjoy another great delivery of the best British melodic Metal.. Then you have the good fortune of knowing what we cook. I know one of those who enjoy this delicatessen; “Sanctuary” is a good way to invest money wisely and profitably.
July 6th, 2009 on 8:13 pm editFireworks Magazine
While the line-up may have fluctuated more than a little from the Praying Mantis of yore, the name lives on with a new album at last. It’s been a while, but the classic hard rock that Praying Mantis have been known for since their inception about seven thousand years ago is just as potent. With a few nods to a more modern sound the new Praying Mantis album is not the NWOBHM nostalgia trip you might expect. In fact there are a couple of moments here where the album slips almost into power metal territory (a few very Yngwie Malmsteen-esque song structures add to this).
Current vocalist Mike Freeland puts in a sterling performance, his soaring pipes conjuring Mark Boais, Don Dokken, Gary Hughes and even ZP Theart. Fear not though, classic rock fans, the band isn’t flying off into Dragonforce territory, “Sanctuary” is a powerful album of classic melodic hard rock that has been given a fitting contemporary facelift. Some very strong lead guitar helps elevate the music another level – never overly flashy, there is a restraint and an elegance to the playing of Andy Burgess that brings to mind Vinny Burns and Neal Schon at times, while providing a strong backdrop for the stunning vocal harmonies.
It is a little more polished that I was expecting from Praying Mantis, but with their current line-up they have something very strong here. The legend is in safe hands, even if those hands are far from the originals. The band still features the original core of the Troy Brothers, which makes it Praying Mantis, really. They have surrounded themselves with musicians that do the job perfectly, and fans of uplifting hard rock with a British heart will find a great deal to love here. Welcome back guys. You’ve done the legend proud.
July 6th, 2009 on 8:17 pm editPower Metal.de ‘Sanctuary ‘ Review
After six long years, the world’s best melodic rock band is back with one of their strongest albums ever:
After going all the way via Japan, the band with the roots in NWoBHM-times has meanwhile established themselves in Europe, too, as a respected name in melodic rock. And that’s well deserved, given the fact that ever since the reunion in 1991 they have delivered great albums and amazing live shows. During all those years, the two bandleaders Chris and Tino Troy had seen a lot of various musicians, especially a lot of different singers, entering and leaving their band, and still they managed to preserve all the trademarks of the mantis’ special sound.
After the split of the pretty long running last line-up, the Troy brothers are together with the new lead-singer Mike Freeland, the second guitarist Andy Burgess and drummer Benjy Reid for almost two years now. So it has finally been time for the follow-up to the already six year old “The Journey Goes On” to see the light of day, bearing the title “Sanctuary”. With great anticipation and high expectations, I now put the disc into the player and listen for the things to come:
To take away a part of the summary: PRAYING MANTIS remain true to themselves, of course. The trademark are all still present: Tino Troy and Andy Brugess perfectly co-operate on the six strings. Whether it’s double melodic leads, heavy yet melodic riffs or blossoming solos, just having their own special and uncopied flair. Plus there’s a rhythm work characterized by a relaxed attitude, still tight and providing the necessary rocking drive on ‘In Time’ and ‘Highway’ or the dreamlike trips for ‘Tears In The Rain’ and ‘Lonely Way Home’.
The most important quality of any PRAYING MANTIS album of course are the multi-layered lead vocals, for which the Troy Brothers and their new frontman Mike Freeland are responsible. And that’s the point where it gets interesting:
How will the vocalists work together and how will that affect the overall sound of the album. Well, I must say, that I’m a bit surprised, and maybe you will be surprised, too, that this band still can positively surprise me, being a long time fan expecting nothing but the best anyways.
Here the band actually managed to stay true to themselves, but to still put new accents to their music. Of course Mike Freeland can sing like an angel and arrange all those heavenly choir-vocals for the choruses, together with Tino and Chris paying respect to the great heritage of this unique band. But he also can provide rougher and more rocking parts. Not saying that his predecessors like Dougie White and Tony O’Hora couldn’t have done that, it is still remarkable that Mike does dare using them and that Chris and Tino let him use them more frequently. This does make “Sanctuary” sound partially more aggressive than its predecessor or “A Cry For The New World”, however, never distracting PRAYING MANTIS from what they do best: creating royal melodies, emotional vocal lines and tenderly rocking grooves for the speakers and stages of this world.
And the album is also full of small sparkling moments: The acoustic parts of the semi-ballad ‘Lonely Way Home’, the spacey synths and the warm main riff of ‘So High’, the great solo introducing ‘Tears In The Rain’, the amazingly fast melodic leads on ‘Touch The Rainbow’ or the dark, partly almost heavy and also progressive title track at the end.
All these tracks make PRAYING MANTIS extend the borders of their stylistic homebase. Not really crossing the borders, but making the band sound fresh and hungry without shocking any of the old fans.
What can I say more? Well, with “Sanctuary” the – world’s in my opinion – best melodic rock band does also deliver one of their best albums ever. That’s not a band resting on their past glories. It’s a band re-inventing themselves in the 32nd year of their existence, without losing the recipe and the main ingredients of their success.
Something that only few bands did achieve in the recent years. Especially not in this specific genre.