Ever since their superb performance at the Winterstorm festival in Scotland back in 2019, I have been madly in love with these skilled veterans’ brand of inspired and epic hard rock/heavy metal. Discovering a promotional copy of Katharsis by Praying Mantis in the mailbox last week, therefore, made yours truly a ridiculously happy man, so let us examine and try to put into words exactly why the latest output by the British legends is a most welcome addition to their already impressive discography.
What clearly shines through no more than three songs in is how dynamic the compositions are and how brilliant it is that the emphasis on keeping things exciting and diverse is intact and firmly in place from beginning to end. While ‘Ain’t No Rock ‘N’ Roll in Heaven’ is a fun, fist-pumping rocker and ‘Non Omnis Moriar’ has a subtle melancholy sheen to it, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Wheels in Motion’, and ‘Masquerade’ are slightly more dramatic and boast some exquisite vocal melodies and elegant riffs that ooze passion and power. The latter is as heartfelt as they come and easily one of their finest creations to date. The only real downside to the record is the inclusion of the superfluous and musically unremarkable ‘Long Time Coming’, but who am I to complain when the other ten pieces are excellent? The galloping, almost Dio-esque opening track ‘Cry for the Nations’ is a great way to kick things off and closer ‘The Devil Never Changes’ is a deft way to bow out and end on a majestic note.
Bolstered by a big, muscular production, Katharsis is the sound of a tight musical unit coming up with a slew of stellar material and having a fabulous time crafting a balanced and confident album together. Apart from being satisfyingly varied and full of memorable songs, there is also vitality and a certain amount of freshness to it that makes for an incredibly enjoyable listen, and this is one of the group’s most engaging offerings yet. Praying Mantis are on peerless form and Katharsis packs a solid punch. Simply put, the melodic variant of NWOBHM is alive and well!
Katharsis will be released by Frontiers Records on January 28.