Sunday Old School: Praying Mantis
A look back through the Sunday Old School archives will help you find a plethora of bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, from stars such as Iron Maiden and Saxon to somewhat lesser known acts like Jaguar and Angel Witch. Today, we will look at another band from the scene, which never became celebrities like some of their contemporaries, but like Raven and Tygers Of Pan Tang, established themselves as one of the standout acts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a group by the name of Praying Mantis. Praying Mantis were formed by brothers Tino and Chris Troy in 1974 but despite the early formation, it would take them five years to record their first demo, "The Soundhouse Tapes," which was named such because they, like many other bands at the time, recorded it at the Spaceward studio, owned by DJ Neal Kay, who also managed the Heavy Metal Soundhouse club. They followed this with their first single the next year, an eponymous track which featured the song, "High Roller" as a B-side, along with another short release entitled, "The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2" in 1981. These releases and supporting slots for bigger acts garnered the attention of Artista Records who signed them up and distributed their first full length album, "Time Tells No Lies," also in 1981. The debut is considered their best known work to date, as well as perhaps, their highest quality of material.
Despite the favourable response they found after their debut, the band soon entered a turbulent period. They recorded a version of the song, "I Surrender," by Russ Ballard, but unfortunately for them, Rainbow, the band formed by ex Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, had also recorded their take on the track, which prevented Praying Mantis from releasing theirs. To add insult to injury, the Rainbow version went on to be a hit single worldwide. Instead, Praying Mantis recorded a single called "Cheated," which was only able to reach number 69 on the British singles chart. They followed this with a cover of The Kinks’ classic, "All Day and All of the Night," which also did relatively poorly, causing Artista to drop them from the label. They released one more single through Jet Records entitled, "Turn the Tables," which was also unsuccessful and the band decided to call it a day soon afterwards. They did however briefly return under the new moniker, "Stratus" for an album named, "Throwing Shapes," though they went no further than this one album.
As is the case for many heavy metal bands from the eighties, they were able to build a good following in Japan and in 1990, were invited to take part in a Japanese tour which celebrated ten years of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The position of vocalist on this trek was notable filled by former Iron Maiden singer, Paul Di’anno and the shows were met with a very positive response, leading them to release their first live record, “Live At Last” and more importantly, to continue the band on a full time basis. They soon recruited a new singer, Doogie White (now of Tank) before replacing him with Colin Peel and recorded a new album, "Predator in Disguise," which was released in 1993. The group continued to record material throughout the decade, one which was noticeably cruel to the heavy metal genre, releasing the albums, "A Cry For the New World," "To the Power of Ten" and "Forever in Time," before their 2000 effort, "Nowhere to Hide."
In 2003, Praying Mantis released, "The Journey Goes On," their last effort to date through Pony Canyon, who had released all their previous work upon reforming. It also marked the longest gap between albums since their comeback as they struggled with lineup issues and other obstacles, before they finally released, "Sanctuary" through Frontiers Records in 2009. The album was met with a very warm reception and was hailed as some of their best work since, "Time Tells No Lies." They followed this with an EP containing re-recorded versions of old songs entitled, "Metalmorphosis," which was also well received. The band now look to put their name out once more, having announced the addition of two new members in drummer Hans in’t Zandt and vocalist John Cuijpers, as well as confirming that they will release a new single next month and perform in their native United Kingdom.
Praying Mantis - "Captured City"
Praying Mantis - "Thirty Pieces of Silver"
Praying Mantis - "A Cry For the New World"
Praying Mantis - "Remember My Name"
Praying Mantis - "Future of the World"
Praying Mantis - "Turn the Tide"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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