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Although Praying Mantis are best known to many rock and metal fans for being part of the NWOBHM movement, which hit its peak during 1979 and 1981, they were in fact formed in London back in 1974 by brothers, Chris and Tino Troy. It is the opinion of many that Mantis (alongside the likes of Angelwitch, Diamond Head and Trespass) did not achieve the success that their undoubted talents deserved. Anyone with a limited knowledge of NWOBHM may be surprised to know that it covered a vast range of rock and metal styles with Mantis being one of the handful of bands from the scene whose sound was built around strong melodies, catchy choruses and vocal harmonies. So from that point of view the new album ‘Sanctuary’ is built around the same musical principles but the quality production, professionalism and superb musicianship including Mike Freeland's awesome vocals takes this to a higher level than 1981's much loved classic ‘Time Tells No Lies’. Freeland's voice did remind me of some of the finest vocalists in this field such as Jean Beauvoir (Crown of Thorns), Gary Bardens (MSG) and Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep and former vocalist of Stratus, which featured Chris and Tino as well as former Maiden drummer Clive Burr). From the superb melodic gem ‘In Time’ to the epic tour de force title track, ‘Sanctuary’ is full of brilliantly crafted songs, which are both catchy and melodically intense. You cannot fail to be captivated by the dreamy ‘Restless Heart’ and ‘Playing God‘, the lazy almost bluesy feel of ‘Tears in the Rain’. The heartfelt ballad ‘Turn The Tide’ and the more riff orientated ‘So High’, ‘Touch The Rainbow’ and ‘Threshold of a Dream’ with the more commercial sounding ballad ‘Highway’ reminding me of classic Journey. It's time to forget the NWOBHM tag because Praying Mantis have delivered a phenomenal album, which is pure melodic rock genius. ‘Sanctuary’ just has to be the best album of this type I've heard in years and I am certain that fans of this genre will not be disappointed when they buy it. On the strength of this album Praying Mantis still deserve the massive success that has so far eluded them.
Frontiers Records
Review by Dave Crewe
8th June 2009
1) In Time
2) Restless Heart
3) Tears in the Rain
4) So High
5) Turn the Tide
6) Touch the Rainbow
7) Threshold of a Dream
8) Playing God
9) Highway
10) Sanctuary
"On the strength of this album Praying Mantis still deserve the massive success that has so far eluded them."