PRAYING MANTIS have a history of over 40 years and although they never reached a superstar status they are definitely a well respected band. I don’t need to go into depth about the positive vibe and melodic finesse of their music, it speaks for itself. Their constant drawback was the totally unstable lineup, with numerous members coming and going, some top class musicians among them (Dennis Stratton, Clive Burr, Gary Barden, Doogie White etc). Fortunately for “Gravity” the lineup remained the same as on 2015’s “Legacy”, which was a strong and classy release.
Oddly though the musical direction of “Gravity’’ has shifted quite significantly. While “Legacy” contained a few metal moments, combining their early NWOBHM days with their subsequent keyboard driven AOR side, “Gravity” pretty much lacks… well, gravity! Apart from the atmospheric epic “Ghosts Of The Past”, the rest of the material on “Gravity” points towards an early 80’s AOR direction more than ever, combined with a 70’s classic rock feel. The latter is evident on some guitar parts here and there reminiscent of THIN LIZZY (check “Keep It Alive” or the title track) and on tracks like “The Last Summer” and “Foreign Affair” which bring on memories of Lawton era URIAH HEEP. Singer John Cuijpers really sounds a lot like Lawton on several occasions and that’s a good thing for certain. I mean you could totally sell me that Lawton is guesting on the two aforementioned songs!
Anyway, style wise “Gravity” is a nice surprise. There’s this thing with the track listing though; if you are a fan of 90’s and on PRAYING MANTIS you would have real trouble recognising the band on the first three tracks. Although “Keep It Alive” is a fantastic opener and a lively rocker, it lacks the bands trademark sound. Tracks 2 and 3 are definitely fillers; the first of them might actually be the worst Mantis track ever. To make things even worse the guys fantasized it could serve as their anthem, hence… “Mantis Theme”. Things get back on track once and for all from track 4 ‘’39 years’’ and on; and fortunately great songs keep coming one after the other almost up to the very end. The melodies are there, the inspiration, the altogether feel of a good PRAYING MANTIS album, everything that is needed to satisfy fans of the band and good rock music.
You might get wind of some nagging about the album not being this or not being that, but it’s definitely a good album with some classic Mantis tracks and some new (or maybe old) tricks up their sleeve. Take your time and listen to it a few times and it will grow on you.