Since 2009’s excellent ‘Sanctuary’ album, and subsequent 30th Anniversary EP and time in general, there have been some line-up changes a-foot. Drummer Hans In’t Zandt jins joins the ranks, but perhaps the most significant one is the addition of vocalist Jaycee Cuijpers, which is a shame as I really loved the emotion and connection I felt with their previous singer Mike Freeland. That aside, or that in addition, I should say this doesn’t detract from the quality of this melodic rock driven album, from a band that formed in the early/mid 70’s and were a significant part of the NWOBHM movement when it got into it’s considered “classic” period.
The elements of the most recent releases are all here, pulse racing rockers like opener ‘Fight For Your Honour’ are very well constructed and clearly exhibit a genuine level of song writing experience. The melodies are top drawer quality and are a perfect introduction into a new phase of this long revered band. ‘Better Man’ is a soulful, heart wrenching ballad, there’s a particular emotive delivery from Cuijpers in the vocal department that nearly gets to the level some earlier material, this is a stunning track. At first, I thought the band has stepped off the gas a little, but when you immerse further into the album, it’s a new way of presenting their material, it won’t be the same and really should it be the same? That could be an ill-fated move to reply on your past, forward thinking works here, at least here there is a different range and feeling to encounter.
‘The One’ reminds me of the stance of recent Pretty Maids material, strong, melodic but still hard hitting and the following two tracks ‘Tokyo’ and ‘Believable’ show the same qualities. ‘Eyes of a Child’ is a little harder in terms of rocking out, that doesn’t work as well for me as the vocals try to outweigh their breathability, it’s not bad, it sounds stretched that’s all. Where the heavier tracks work is ‘The Runner’ this is what works, the arrangement and the overall presence of this album is a step in a direction that both new and long-time fans will appreciate.
Far from being metal, Praying Mantis are masters of melodic rock, many elements make this a remarkable release, especially the harmonies. The arrangements are strong, there is a real band ethic rather than a certain level of guitar showmanship. The new members bring themselves to the forefront and play like they are a well-worn comfortable pair of shoes, it works on many levels. Less rocking than ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Legacy’ starts a new chapter for this well-oiled machine, and album that will serve them well, especially the return of Rodney Matthew’s who drew the stunning artwork for this release.
(8/10 Paul Maddison)