LABYRINTH have their trusty fan base, they play great music that’s more refreshing than thousands of good sounding imitators put together, fuck I’d choose them over HELLOWEEN, VISION DIVINE and PRIMAR FEAR any day. All too often I’ve read about this band being a clichéd Euro Power Metal band, I don’t think people give them a fair chance, there’s no justice in this cruel world for a bunch of hard working and forward thinking guys who happen to have Power Metal traditions in their otherwise progressive warm music.
The band’s comeback effort in 2003 was an obvious affirmation on fans having missed them, I myself enjoyed it immensely and saw it as the real successor to their unchallenged masterpiece “Return To Heaven Denied”. In leaving Century Media the band got in touch with Arise Records to hand over their talents which are very much being explored on the newly built “Freeman”.
Visually and musically, this record does a lot more than any of the band’s previous works, the front cover concept hits the soft spot of our race, being bound in chains with the keys, the only solution to our freedom/happiness… it’s a questioning of bonds, can we be free? The mid paced Pspanking opener “L.Y.A.F.H.” (I think that’s short for “Light Years Away From Home” if I’m hearing it right in the chorus…) couldn’t be more untimely and yet there’s a positive surprise in the unorthodox changes in this band.
More of everything, that’s be the phrase for this album, more is more, the band didn’t loose any of their old trademarks (technical solos, sweet harmonies, beautiful keyboards etc etc) but with so much experimentation and awkwardness being added I feel like I’m listening to a matured, contemplative and open minded band, listen to a song like “Deserter” (see if you can spot the harsh screaming residing very low in the mix hehe) and face the fact that this won’t be an easy album to tear apart.
In the past the band always had a love for Progressive Metal giving their albums a “mazed”, more slick makeover in the complex solo duels and various arrangements, thus the focus of “Freeman” is unveiled. “Dive In Open Waters” and “M3” are the only songs where complexity doesn’t stand in front of the Power Metal elements, everything else on this record is a ride through kaleidoscopic inspirations tied with modern sound production.
The band also recorded their most ambitious song to date in “Malcolm Grey”, a crestfallen and sympathising ballad in which they may have found a new side of themselves which I’d label as Power Doom or something close to it. His spoken parts on this very track failed to give the right emotion, too bad, but I always liked Rob Tiranti’s style of singing, he has an embracing passion and warmness in his voice, one of a kind, very stabile though shifting at times of need.
For the last time and this is for all the unbelievers, LABYRINTH is not a typical Power Metal band, they’re not even plain Power Metal, their principles have been slightly altered here, the mix of Prog and Power shapes itself more freely, the production sound is also harder and heavier topped by an electronical fragrance… those Italians, always going against the trends!
For fans of well done Delirious Progressive Power Metal! (Online March 18, 2005)