Labyrinth has gained a solid reputation over the last decade or so as a standout progressive metal band, and is, along with Rhapsody, among Italy's most well-known bands in the field. Until recently, their work was somewhat of a European Fates Warning, blended with a bit of speed metal. The departure of guitarist Olaf Thorsen in late 2002 (due to musical differences -- he now devotes time to his side-project-turned-band Vision Divine) signalled a change in their style, and that change is evident on the self-titled Labyrinth release of 2003. Decidedly less progressive and more based in 80's power metal (though still with Euro speed metal touches), it's not a radical departure from their past but a noticeably shift nonetheless. In keeping with most power metal bands, Labyrinth aims not to change the world or reinvent heavy metal, but they are still a reliable force in traditional metal.
Labÿrinth - No Limits (Pick Up Records) 1996
Humble beginnings for one of Italy's most globally respected metal bands? Hardly! This CD is nothing short of fantastic, especially for an independent debut album. "No Limits" is a perfect blend of speed, intensity, melody and stellar musicianship. In short, this is real heavy metal. Lab˙rinth actually walk a fine line between progressive metal and power metal. However, unlike many prog bands, Lab˙rinth don't forsake solid song writing for technical noodling. As with any good power metal band, Lab˙rinth know how to write everything from fast, powerful speed metal songs ("Mortal Sin", "Vertigo") to mid paced numbers ("Midnight Resistence", "Dreamland") to melodic ballads. Probably my favorite ballad on the album is "Miles Away" which is actually a bonus track that was taken from the "Piece of Time" EP, release a year before this, their first full length CD. This song is catchy and emotional without coming off as cheesy and forced, as many metal ballads seem to be. Vocalist Joe Terry (aka Fabio Lione, Rhapsody, ex-Vision Divine), has a smooth, melodic, mid-range voice the fits the band perfectly. Being familiar with his work in his other bands, I can see where some people may say he hadn't completely developed his style yet, but I still think his voice fits the music nicely. There are some production problems, the overall sound is a little thin and the vocals and drums seem to dominate the mix. All in all, however, this is a solid power metal disc from one of Italy's finest imports.
Labyrinth - Return To Heaven Denied (Metal Blade) 1998
Labyrinth are absolutely stunning power metal! I am truly amazed at their talent. Everything from the sheer speed of the drums, to the incredible vocals of Rob Tyrant are top notch. Even the thick accent in the vocals don't seem to take away from the appeal. Honestly I cannot say enough good things about this CD. Yes, this is power metal, but it has a progressive metal edge like Fates Warning as well. Absolutely stunning!
Labyrinth-Timeless Crime (Metal Blade) 1999
1. "Save Me"
Absolutely killer power metal from Italy. What makes this disc essential is the hidden track at the end of track four: a killer cover of Sanctuary's "Die For My Sins." Unfortunately for me I made a STUPID trade for this disc. For some reason I thought it was the full length disc, so I traded an autographed copy of Seventhsign's "Transparent." This disc is long out of print and worth much more than the $9.99 you can buy the Labyrinth EP for new on-line. Oh well, live and learn. Of course now I have to find some more of this band's material. Labyrinth are simply awesome!
Labyrinth - Sons of Thunder (Metal Blade) 2000
1. "Chapter 1"
I put off writing this review because I just wasn't sure how to express how much I like this disc. The best word I can think of to describe the music contained herin is DYNAMIC! Imagine mixing Dream Theater with Kansas, Watchtower, Nektar and some Metal Church and you might get a picture of what to expect. The music is technical, as good progressive metal should be, but the band also concentrates on writing actual songs, rather than just trying to show off their skills as musicians. At times the band is thrashing along as fast as the fastest speed metal band, then the next second they are off into some spacey acoustic thing. With that being said, I must stress again, that all this does not take away from the memorability of the songs. "Sons of Thunder" is absolutely one of the finest power metal discs to grace my cd player.
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