There’s some tour dates listed on the press pack that came with Praying Mantis’ 13th album, and at the end of this month there’s one at The Cart And Horses in London. Eddie and the Boys started there of course, and it seems like the perfect place to celebrate your 50th anniversary if you’re one of the bands that were there at the start, but as always with Praying Mantis, there’s a but.

You see, from the start, of well, “From The Start” Praying mantis are doing something slightly grandiose. NWOBHM founders they might be, but this has little to do with that. “Defiance” likewise. It just sounds like modern melodic metal does.

It’s always been like this, though, hasn’t it? The Troy brothers – still there after half a century – have always done things their own way, and they still do it catchy, too as “Feelin’ Lucky” proves. And “I Surrender” underlines the fact that this album would be a Rainbow album given even half a chance.

The ambition is massive as well, elsewhere. “Forever In My Heart” has stadiums in its mind, listen to the way it soars and come to any other conclusion.

“Never Can Say Goodbye” is classy and polished, the guitar solo is class, too. “Still living those glory days” offers singer Jaycee Cuijpers who is fabulous throughout. The band have had all kinds of vocalists over the years including Paul Di’anno and Doogie White but he must be the best.  

“One Heart” continues the same vibe, adding a very nice bit of almost Spanish guitar in the middle. “Give It Up” gets its fists up in the air for a bit of bombast, “Nightswim” is a vehicle for the guitar playing of Tino Troy and Andy Burgess.

“Standing Tall” is as good as melodic rock gets, in honesty. The keyboards give it a real Euro feel.

And that is before “Let’s See” ends the album by turning the clock back to 1981 and my, there’s some strident riffing.

“Defiance” is well named, because there’s a feeling of doing it on your own, doing it your way throughout, and in that respect, surely there cannot be any better way for Praying Mantis to knock up 50 years.

Rating 8/10

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