Friday, May 11, 2018

Album Review: Praying Mantis - Gravity

This marks Praying Mantis' eleventh studio album, and over the years, they have had nearly as many singer changes as records. That makes it hard to be a fan of this band. Every time there is a singer or a record that gets you excited, it isn't long before they get replaced, and the tone of the writing changes a little bit again. That makes it a bit of a surprise that this album finds the same lineup from the previous record return, giving a bit of continuity to a band that sometimes feels they don't know the meaning of it. My favorite period of the band is the record they made with Gary Barden (despite his vocal limitations, he has great tone), but it's nice to see they're still making records.

This record gets off to an odd start. The first two tracks each tally more than six minutes, with lengthy intros that take their time in getting to the hearts of the songs. There isn't a formula for making a record, but it might be a bit of a slow start to have them back-to-back, even though they are both good songs. Praying Mantis has been making melodic hard rock for a long time, so they know what they're doing by now. Through all the singers, they haven't changed their identity, which is evident in both the sound and message of "Mantis Anthem", which is a horrible title for an otherwise strong piano-tinged ballad.

The other thing that's a bit odd is that singer John Cuijpers often sings much heavier than the band itself is. He adds some rasp and sinister tones into his voice on some of these songs, when the band's music is fairly light melodic rock, which makes him sound a tad bit out of place.

However, those are minor complaints. I talked about them first because, while "Gravity" is a good Praying Mantis record, it's also difficult to find much to single out and talk about without repeating myself endlessly. This record sound like the last Praying Mantis record, and it also sounds like dozens of other light melodic rock albums. That is no complaint at all, but it does mean I don't have much to say that hasn't been said before.

What can be said is that two-thirds of "Gravity" is high quality melodic rock that delivers the big hooks and crunchy-enough guitars that make this music work so well. There are spots where the record could use a bit more energy, but by and large it does what it needs to. This lacks the sizzle that W.E.T. brings to the table, but Praying Mantis is in a slightly different position. Being an older band, they are aimed more at the fans who had been with them all along. If I were in that age bracket, I would probably be quite happy with "Gravity". At my age, though, and having heard what melodic rock has already offered this year, I would have appreciated a bit more bite from this record. "Gravity" is good, but there's a reason why Praying Mantis never took off. That reason is still there.

No comments:

Post a Comment