Praying Mantis are keeping it alive on Gravity, album number 11 from these NWOBHM legends and established melodic hard rockers. Earnestly nostalgic, Gravity finds Praying Mantis looking back over a career that’s had its fill of peaks and troughs, but currently finds the band on the receiving end of critical adulation since their ‘comeback’ in 2008.
Gravity is pure AOR, bolstered by anthemic ‘hits’ (“Keep It Alive” and “Mantis Anthem” are particularly huge and enigmatic), and unfeigned pathos which shouldn’t surprise longtime fans. There’s no major shift in sound to contend with, although Praying Mantis do seem to be ‘softening’, if the majority of the tracks found on Gravity are anything to go by.
Lighter than a Quaver sandwich minus the bread, Praying Mantis are encroaching on Grandad-rock territory here but the likes of “39 Years”, “Ghosts Of The Past” and the title track offer enough moody crunch to counter-act the sentimentality. They’ve always pursued a more melodic and AOR-sounding career than their contemporaries, so heavy metal thunder isn’t expected but there are cheesy moments (“The Last Summer” and the unashamed use of 80’s keys found on “Foreign Affair”) that are harder to swallow than a 2kg block of cheddar. In fact, Gravity positively reeks of the 80’s, and you can’t help but imagine many of its tracks playing over a Brat-Pack movie from the decade that embraced maudlin over-emotionalism like no other.
Still, this is the game Praying Mantis have always played and to discredit their earnestness this late in the day would be fruitless. Instead, we’ll settle for suggesting that Gravity isn’t as strong as 2015’s Legacy but still delivers enough tasty morsels for melodic hard rock fans to savour. 6/10
Gravity will be available on May 11, 2018 via Frontiers Music s.r.l.