NWOBHM Wednesday-Praying Mantis
Despite the fact that the Metal Archives decided that Praying Mantis wasn't "metal" enough for their site you cannot have a conversation about the New Wave Of Heavy Metal movement without mentioning this top notch act. Actually, Praying Mantis pre-dated the movement by a few years but wouldn't get noticed until appearing on the Metal For Muthas compilation in 1980 with their song, "Captured City". It wasn't their first recording though as that honor would go to the Soundhouse Tapes EP released in 1979. While "Captured City" raised awareness to the band it was their support slots for Iron Maiden and Ronnie Montrose's Gamma that caught the attention of Arista Records. With Arista Records behind them Praying Mantis went on to release the excellent Time Tells No Lies in 1981. Despite good reviews the band was done in by management problems and line-up instability. Dropped by Arista Praying Mantis seemed to vanish into thin air. While in reality they had signed to Jet Records even that would be short lived. After two singles failed to revive their early success the band folded. While many in England and America seemed to forget about Praying Mantis the band maintained a strong fan base in Japan. Thanks in no small part to that support the Troy brothers (always the backbone of the band) briefly reformed Praying Mantis in 1990. Nine years after the release of Time Tells No Lies the band released Live at Last. The following year the band would finally release a proper follow-up to their debut with the album Predator in Disguise. Since then the band has carried on although with frequent line-up changes. With their latest EP, Metalmorphosis the band collected re-recorded versions of classic songs and showed the world that they are capable of keeping with their classic sound while also keeping up with the current heavy metal scene.
Metal Mark says-
Okay, so I'm going through "Time tells no lies", "A cry for the world" and "Predator in disguise" as I write this. Not everyone in the NWOBHM scene sounded like Iron Maiden or Diamond Head although a few later to the scene bands did try to sound like them. My point is that the scene had a lot of bands that represented a number of different sounds. Praying Mantis were a combination of hard rock/metal and even a touch of AOR mixed in. It was the early 80's when they started so all these styler were going on so combining them seemed like a fine decision. I think "Time tells no lies" is their best effort. It's tight, it's catchy and had the band already establishing their own sound. It's unfortunate they couldn't follow up on it within the next year or two. I think their sound would have really hit had they done a quick follow-up and got a push around say 1983 or 1984. That's not the way it went though. Oddly enough they have done far more albums in the last twenty years than in the 80's which was of course the prime for the NWOBHM scene. Former Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton was a part of Praying Mantis having played on every album between 1990 and 2003 except for the old demos album. Kudos to the Troy brothers for making numerous efforts to restart this band and get it going again because as Andy says they have been the heart of this band. I actualy think that 2009's Sanctuary is their second best album. This year's Metalmorphosis EP is re-recorded tracks, but it's still the same line-up that did Sanctuary and the band sounds very focused. Here's hoping some new material is coming soon.