"Freeman" (Arise; 2005)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Labyrinth are one of those 'tweener' bands for me when I'm listening to the band I completely dig what I'm hearing, but when I'm not, I don't feel a strong urge to grab their records off the shelf for further listening.

I've viewed Labyrinth as a power metal band unafraid to show their aggressive, 'thrash' side. This actually makes them standout a bit from their numerous power-metal brethren. "Freeman" finds Labyrinth slowing things down a bit (relatively speaking) and forsaking speedy power-metal idioms for a wider range of riffing styles and song structures.

While I would never consider Labyrinth to be a progressive band, I do hear their willingness to take risks in a 'prog metal' like manner. A track like "Malcolm Grey" takes the band away from stereotypes and pushes their music in a more Pain Of Salvation-like vein and it's hard to dislike that.

"Freeman" was produced by Labyrinth. The production is great for the power metal genre which demands high production values. My review copy did contain a few tracks not in their final production stage however, I could find little wrong with these 'promo' versions in terms of sound. However, the promo versions were cut short so it is difficult for me to talk about the full impact of the disc. (Editor's note: This type of anti-copy protection is particularly annoying).

Labyrinth: Roberto Tiranti on vocals, Pier Gonella and Andrea Cantarelli on guitars, Cristiano Bertoochi on bass, Andrea "Mc" De Paoli on keyboards, and Mattia Stancioiu on drums.

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"Sons of Thunder" (Metal Blade; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Musically, Labyrinth's "Sons of Thunder" are an interesting blend of Iron Maiden, Gamma Ray and Dream Theater. It's all thunderous double-bass drums, train engine bass, and blurred finger guitar work. The songs are written as epics and, in the case of "Sons of Thunder" at least, all are chapters of an aural novel - a complete tale told in ten tracks totaling just about an hour of music.

Vocals-wise, I can't think of a better description than Mr. Kelter gave below. I do hear a lot of Joe Lynn Turner here, and - to my ears - that sounds just a big subdued for music this fast, this big and this ambitious. Don't get me wrong - vocalist Rob Tyrant succeeds quite nicely - it's just that you'd think the vocals would be bigger. Honestly, however, that's nitpicking. 

Bottom line on this review is easy: fans of technically superb music - both in musicianship and in songwriting - will find something to like here. Even with my petty gripe about the vocals, Labyrinth is still bigger-than-life and their attempt to explore a complete story - especially one set in 1679 Paris, France as is the case here - is impressive in its ambitiousness and astonishing in its success. It may not be the kind of thing you listen to in your car on the way to work - it requires too much attention for that - but it's definitely heavy metal of substance - perhaps to the point of being a bit overdone. Still, that substance alone make Labyrinth and "Sons of Thunder" worth a listen.

Labyrinth is Rob Tyrant on vocals, Olaf Thorsen on guitars, Anders Rain on guitars, Chris Breeze on bass, Andrew McPauls on keyboards and piano, and Mat Stancioiu on drums.

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"Timeless Crime" (Metal Blade; 1999)labyrinth.jpg (15414 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Labyrinth is a six-piece power metal band from Italy; the band has been plying its trade since 1991. This five-song mini-CD is a follow-up to their full-length debut "Return To Heaven Denied." Labyrinth brings a touch of neo-classical fusion (circa late '80s and early '90s) into a more progressive vein along the likes of Fates Warning and Shadow Gallery.

The vocals recall Joe Lynn Turner during his days with Yngwie J. Malmsteen. The music is very reminiscent of old Dream Theater and newer Iced Earth albeit with more European and classic influences. Oddly enough, I also hear shades of Tony MacAlpine's influence in the guitars. At all times, the music "jumps" out of the speakers - quality musical skills make this band worth hearing. However, the drums are quite 'busy' and could be more subdued.

"Save Me" starts off with a flourish of classical piano figures before it strikes forth with a power metal fury. "Out Of Memory" is particularly heavy in a way that most fans would enjoy; the balance between the guitars and the keyboards is most satisfying. "In The Shade" finds the band bringing their obvious Yngwie J. Malmsteen influences to life. "Falling Rain" is an acoustic track that is more power ballad than progressive venture although the swirling keyboards at the intro are unique. The fifth track (one of those hidden tracks with no title on the artwork) adds late '80s Judas Priest influences to the mix. (Editor's note: According to a reader, that hidden track is a cover of Sanctuary's "Die For My Sins." Sanctuary later morphed into Nevermore).

Labyrinth is certainly worth listening to if you are a fan of the progressive metal genre.

Labyrinth is Rob Tyrant on vocals, Olaf Thorsen on guitars, Anders Rain on guitars, Chris Breeze on bass, Andrew McPauls on keyboards and piano, and Mat Stancioiu on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Nov 2021 13:23:27 -0500.