I admit, I haven’t heard a single note from this band prior to this album. I know the band only by name but I have never been bothered at all to check them out. The reason for that, of course, is that Labÿrinth always have been associated with power metal, the European kind, the kind that I have no love for at all. Labÿrinth are also an Italian band and Italian and German power metal bands are usually the worst kind. I don’t want to piss anybody off, but that’s how I feel, that’s my taste in music and that’s the explanation. The band was formed in Massa, Italy back in 1991 but it would take them up until 1996 to release their debut album No Limits although they had released two E.P.s prior to that. The singer on that first album was one Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire, Angra, Kamelot, Eternal Idol), but he was replaced by Roberto Tiranti (then called Rob Tyrant) from album # 2 and onwards. However, Tiranti left the band in 2014 to try to go solo and was replaced by one Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt) but that seems to have been pretty short-lived. The last Labÿrinth album was released back in 2010 so for fans of the band, this new album has been a helluva long time coming. On the new record, the band had recruited drummer John Macaluso ( Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT, Starbreaker, James LaBrie).
So why bother with the band now, then? Well, since I got a reviewer’s link from Frontiers Records, it would be not only stupid but also disrespectful to the A&R people at the record company not to at least give it a shot. I was also a bit interested because of Tiranti’s involvement in Italian guitar hero Tommy Vitaly’s new album Indivisible, an album I enjoy very much and where I thought Tiranti did a damn fine job singing. That said, it would be a huge exaggeration to state that that performance gave me any hopes for this record – expectations were zero. But as always, when I push play I try to keep my mind as open as I can and that’s how I approached this record as well.
Opener “Bullets” takes me by surprise. It’s a faster paced power metal number but it leans a lot towards heavy metal and it also comes with a pomp rock vibe with keyboards going off in a 70’s progressive rock direction. This is not what I had expected – and I really like the tune. “Still Alive” is melodic metal but this one too shows off with a big prog-rock influence – and parts of the melodies and arrangements reminds me of Fates Warning. I wouldn’t call this track power metal at all. A very good tune! “Take On My Legacy” is heavier, harder and more aggressive. It comes in a fast pace and there’s a large blanket of keyboards all over the tune. Iron Maiden also comes to mind here but the chorus is a bit too power metal for my taste. I think it’s an ok song but the verses saves the whole thing. “A New Dream” is just amazing. It’s on the softer side, progressive with big chunks of both pop and metal and it’s not that hard to spot both Asia and Yes mixed with some heavier grooves.
They stay with the pop influences in “Someone Says” but the progressive twists are present. The main melody says Fates Warning – again – and the twin guitar harmonies brings up both Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy. Another great track. “Random Logic” is a piano based shorty with some spoken word in Italian and some humming but it works more as an intermission, a path that takes us to the title track. The title track is huge and bombastic but on the softer side. There’s a prog-metal twist in there and the tune sounds like Fates Warning and Sieges Even bonding during a ballad part of a Queensrÿche concert – brilliant track. The instrumental “Children” is a Robert Miles cover and since I had never heard that song before or even heard of Robert Miles, I can’t say how close this tune is to the original. Labÿrinth’s version is a pretty straight forward melodic metal number with a poppy melody and some progressive parts where the keyboards goes bananas in sync with the guitars. I quite like it even though it fails to grab a hold of me by the first few listens.
“Those Days” is slow, dark and heavy. It lies on the border of ballad territory but without any saccharine at all. Again, I can’t let Fates Warning out of my mind but even more Evergrey of today comes to mind. A very atmospheric and moody track – brilliant. The verses of “We Belong To Yesterday” comes in a softer mode without being the least subservient but the chorus is more or less pop, straight forward without the progressive vibes. Good song. “Stardust And Ashes” is heavy, hard and fast with the bass drums going berserk but a catchy refrain makes it memorable enough even though the power metal style is a bit too obvious. A slow middle part where Queensrÿche meets Metallica brings out the dynamics of the song and I find myself liking the tune after all. The album ends with “Diamond”, a peaceful and atmospheric a ballad with only keyboards and vocals. The vocal melody is brilliant and it’s extremely memorable without being the least commercial. Very, very good.
Power metal? I’m not so sure about that. Persoanlly, I wouldn’t categorize this album a power metal record, at least not a full blown one. Sure, I can hear that influence here and there but to me this is more a progressive, at many times pretty laid back melodic metal album – and maybe it’s just me, but I hear a big Fates Warning influence, at least when it comes to melodies and arrangements. Quality wise, this is shitloads better than I had expected – great production, very good musicians and a very good singer that only brings what the song needs instead of shouting, wailing and going into a goat-vibrato mode. The album might not stick by first listen, it takes a few spins to grow, but that’s not unusual when it comes to progressive hard rock. This record is a big, positive surprise to me and I’m really impressed by just how strong this album is. Recommended.
2. Still Alive
3. Take On My Legacy
4. A New Dream
5. Someone Says
6. Random Logic
7. Architecture Of A God
9. Those Days
10. We Belong To Yesterday
11. Stardust And Ashes