Labÿrinth - Return To Heaven Denied

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984 14176 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:47:00

While not literally all I can say, all I can say is that some of the things that Larry D likes about this, Labÿrinth's Return To Heaven Denied, I don't. Now, I should really have known what I was getting into, but half of this is one idea played for more than its worth.

The one annoying thing about this disk is the extremely over used combo of jackhammer drums and guitars. The drummer tries to break free of this, esp. in "The Night Of Dream" but seems to keep checking himself ... as if to say, "no, can't go there." One hardly needs real people playing this part of the music. In fact, you can "cut" the drums/guitars from track one and practically "paste" them on to each of the following tracks. Oh sure, the guitars to get to play something else, and they do so quite well. More of this, less of that.

During part of "Moonlight" the guitar does go into a nice and speedy frenzy ... but these are notes (plural) played fast, not just the same note ... the strings pounded till one's fingers are shredded and bloody, or until you've put a hole in the center of the drumhead. I keeping have this urge to shove all that noise aside to let the melody and vocals come through.

So, that aside, I think Rob Tyrant has a good, strong, listenable voice ... sure he hits those high notes ... kinda like James LaBrie in a way. Not really the tenor of his voice, but the style, the functionality ... well, that's too cold a word for such a warm voice.

Don't get me wrong, as I said, when the guitars are playing notes, I'm quite impressed by their dexterity. And when Mat Stancioiu really plays the drums, he makes a strong, steady sound. More of this, less of that.

Okay, here's something strange that I noticed reading the liner notes ... it reads: "All drums played and recorded by Frank Andiver" ... so ... Mat's the drummer but he didn't play?

Andrew McPaul's keys are strangely up front for part of "The Night of Dreams" - and while they sound good, it just seems an odd point for them to be that much upfront, almost upstaging the vocals ... well, more than almost, because the attention is drawn there. I mean, it work if the vocals were on fadeout and the keys were going to continue playing on. Whereas, McPaul gets a chance to tinkle the ivories in the gentle intro to "Lady Lost In Time" ... but, as I think Larry says, don't fooled into thinking this is a ballad ... it ain't. And there they go again with that damned annoying thrumbing.

Anyway, McPaul gets to play a bit of swirling keys on "Heaven Denied" ... and what I thought of wasn't any metal band but of neo-prog band Arena ... "Thunder" sounds to me like Dream Theater, and I guess here the "thundering" drums are wholy appropriate.

Of the tracks here, I like "State Of Grace" best, seconded, or tied, with "Falling Rain." While this might blow my cred ... (what cred?) ... to say so, but perhaps the reason I like "Falling Rain" is because it includes those elements that I love about music and progressive music in particular - lyrical, emotional guitars, ... oh hey, the guitarist name is Rain ... well, Anders Rain, but still. Well, then, I love the way the guitar notes Rain down on this track. The only draw back is that towards the end, the mix sounds strange ... the wrong elements are up front. Oh well.

And there is some great synchronization on "Feel" which looks to be a cover tune by a band called Cenith X ... there are some interesting keyboard atmospherics here ... and, yes, that dammned effect again which almost makes you think the needle ... um, laser, is stuck. I guess it works because the whole thing is the focus, rather than meant to accompany the vocals.

And wouldn't you know, "Time After Time" picks up right where "Feel" leaves off ... and on that note, I'll leave off.

Just can't get totally into this, I'm afraid...

Moonlight (5:43) / New Horizons (6:22) / The Night Of Dreams (4:47) / Lady Lost In Time (5:32) / State Of Grace (3:08) / Heaven Denied (4:57) / Thunder (4:21) / Feel (4:22) / Time After Time (5:07) / Falling Rain (6:26) / Die For Freedom (7:02)

Rob Tyrant - vocals
Olaf Thorsen - guitars
Anders Rain - guitars
Chris Breeze - bass
Andrew McPauls - keyboards and piano
Mat Stantioiu - drums

Piece Of Time (1995)
No Limits (1996)
Return To Heaven Denied (1998)
Timeless Crime (1999)
Labyrinth (2003)
Freeman (2005)
Six Days To Nowhere (2007)
Return To Heaven Denied Pt. II - "A Midnight Autumn's Dream" (2010)
As Time Goes By... (2011)
Architecture Of A God (2017)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: August 23rd 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1095
Language: english


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