When it comes to New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, the annals of time seem to have forgotten Praying Mantis. While other NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard have remained viable in recent years, Praying Mantis, which at one time or another included several ex-Maiden members, has achieved primary success only in Japan.
On the aptly titled The Journey Goes On, Praying Mantis continues its second wind begun in the late Nineties with two well-produced melodic hard rock albums that bear several progressive overtones. There's only one thing missing: Singer Tony O'Hora, whose soaring voice graced 1998's Forever in Time and its 2000 follow-up, Nowhere to Hide. O'Hora made practically every song he sang memorable, not only because of his crystalline delivery, but because it was easy to believe he meant every syllable. This time around, the founding Troy brothers – bassist/keyboard player Chris and guitarist/keyboard player Tino – handle the vocal duties with assistance from guests Doogie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen) and John Sloman (Uriah Heep, Gary Moore). While this strategy may result in more vocal variety, none of the voices manages to fill the void left by O'Hora.
That said, The Journey Goes On boasts some solid songs, namely the title track, "Tonight," "Beast Within" and an eight-minute uncredited bonus track that showcases the band's progressive tendencies better than most of the other nine tracks here. A few forgettable ballads slow things down near the end, but it's not enough to spoil the album. But it does make you wonder just how much better this would have sounded with a more dynamic vocalist than either one of the Troys or (gasp) White.
Recommendation: Buy Nowhere to Hide or Forever in Time first. Then buy this.