Praying Mantis – “Keep It Alive” CD / DVD (Frontiers Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Now firmly ensconced into the 3rd chapter of their career, NWOBHM legends deliver their first live album in 23 years on “Keep It Alive”! Formed in 1974 while still at college by the Troy brothers Chris (bass, vocals) and Tino (guitar, vocals), it didn’t take long before they came to the attention of luminary Neil Kay, who featured them on the “Soundhouse Tapes” in 1979. Support slots with Iron Maiden and Ronnie Montrose ultimately led to success in being signed to Arista Records, the culmination of which was their 1981 debut “Time Tells No Lies”, which remains a cult classic to this day. Sadly, management and line up problems saw them dropped eventually leading to a hiatus until 1990, when they were included as part of a NWOBHM nostalgia tour featuring ex-Iron Maiden members Paul Di’Anno and Dennis Stratton. This experience injected new life into the band, and also marked the beginning of a productive 15 year partnership with Dennis Stratton, as well as working with Doogie White and Gary Barden in the 2nd chapter of Praying Mantis’s history. Signing to Frontiers in 2007 to create the 3rd chapter, the band have since released 3 albums including last year’s “Gravity”, making them one of the very small number of groups from the NWOBHM era who still continue to record and gig regularly. “Keep It Alive” is 10 live tracks attesting to that legacy, superbly capturing the essence and spirit of the band taken from right across their 10 album discography as recorded at the Frontiers Rock Festival V in Milan in 2018. If you’ve yet to be blown away by this influential band’s music, then be prepared to be awed as they effortless slip between the modern hard rock of ‘Believable’ (taken from 2015’s “Legacy” album) featuring the Mantis trademark of classy melodic tones and tasteful licks lacquered by unending passion sitting comfortably alongside older favourites like ‘Dream On’ (from “A Cry For The New World” in 1993), a ballad that still rocks almost like a slow anthem thanks to the superbly moving guitars of Tino Troy and Andy Burgess, while ‘Time Slipping Away’ (from 1991’s “Predator In Disguise”) is a more upbeat rocker with punchy riffs allowing new vocalist John Cuijpers to stretch his own pipes. Of course, Mantis don’t disappoint in saving the best till last in ‘Children Of The Earth’ (from their debut) which continues to get my heart pumping even after all these years with its classic mix of catchy hard rock mixed with those incredibly harmonious guitars that simply leaves nothing standing – an incredible finale to the lasting repertoire of what must be one of the most consistent British hard rock bands around – superb!