Album review: PRAYING MANTIS – Keep It Alive

PRAYING MANTIS - Keep It Alive

Frontiers [Release date 06.12.19]

Formed in London in the mid 70s by the Troy brothers Tino (guitar) and Chris (bass), Praying Mantis were associated with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but have always been at the more melodic end, almost AOR compared to their contemporaries. They have, however, remained solid and continue to record some fantastic material. A wonderful back catalogue that has at one time featured Paul Di’Anno and Dennis Stratton. Lead vocalists have come and gone, and now with John Cuijpers (who replaced the solid sounding Mike Freeland), who has built on the band’s wonderful sound over the last few studio albums. This live set features material across their catalogue (it’s not all about the first album, which is essential listening) and it’s a solid performance from the outset.

Alongside brothers Troy and vocalist Cuijpers are long time rhythm guitarist Andy Burgess and drummer Hans in’t Zandt.

Recorded in 2018 around the release of the excellent Gravity album, Keep It Alive is the band’s 3rd live album. Opener is the classic Captured City, and is a little heavier here, next up is Panic In The Streets which is blistering; a great drum intro too. The more recent Highway Is a little more melodic, but shows good vocal range, and a great feel on the guitar too. Likewise with Believable, which the crowd love. Some great guitar harmonies, and proof that Cuijpers has adapted to the band’s catalogue new and old well.

And although there is a melodic feel running throughout the band’s music, some very solid moments and blistering guitar solos pepper the songs and do stand out.

Closer is the epic, classic and brilliant Children Of The Earth, which on every level is a great song and great performance.

On the plus side too, there is the DVD of the performance, and overall my only criticism is that it’s 10 songs, a longer set would have been nice.

I do love Praying Mantis, they are always a great listen, and with so much of their catalogue currently unavailable (including a couple of albums never released in the UK), rarely has a co-ordinated reissue campaign been so overdue. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin




 

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