Labÿrinth - Labÿrinth

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8140-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:03:00

2002 marked another year of changes for Lab�¿rinth, the Italian progressive/power metal band who have just signed to Century Media (in North America). They'd been through previous line up changes, as both drummer (Frank Andiver) and keyboardist (Ken Taylor) leave after the release of Return To Heaven Denied, the band's second album. And they've gone through a series of vocalist changes, from Joe Terry (Rhapsody's Fabio Lione) on the debut album No Limits to Rob Tyrant for Return? and the follow up Sons Of Thunder to, for a time on the live circuit, Morby, and then back to current vocalist Rob Tyrant. And in 2002, long time guitarist Olaf Thorsten left the line up, leaving Anders Rain as the sole guitarist. The other change of 2002 was that the band decided to beginning using their given names, thus Rob Tyrant is now known (again) as Roberto Tiranti, Anders Rain as Andrea Cantarelli, bassist Chris Breeze as Cristiano Bertocchi, keyboardist Andrew McPauls as Andrea De Paoli, and drummer Mat Stantioiu as Mattia Stancioui. But these are but mere cosmetic changes? well, aside from Thorsten's departure.

More significantly, one change seems to be that Stancioui is no longer "afraid" of taking his playing into territories other than endless double-bass bashing. This makes for a more dynamic release than Return?. Though, the released Sons Of Thunder in between, not having heard it, I can't say if this change came then or only now. But sure has me liking this CD more than Return?. That doesn't mean this effect is entirely absent -- witness the thrashy "Terzinato," for example, where without this Lab�¿rinth remind me of Symphony X. And, of course, the drums are very dominant in the mix for nearly every track ? even when they need to be a bit back in the mix. That is, for my taste. Given the easy delivery from Tiranti, this frenetic drumming creates a sense of nervous energy? and I'm not sure what's going on with the howling, swirling wind effect except that underscore the lyrical theme of the coming of Armageddon, making reference to a replay of what happened to Sodom - fire and brimstone.

Tiranti still has that James LaBrie dynamic going, never more apparent than on the balladic "Neverending Rest," which features some nicely tinkling piano-like keyboards from De Paoli. The keys do seem a shade too high in the mix, but it's a minor complaint. The instrumental bridge into the guitar solo seems a little chaotic and hurried, however, which detracts from what is otherwise a pretty good track. And, other than the very high notes he hits (which I don't care for), Tyrant has Russell Allen sound. However, this track is one of the highlights of the album.

If I had to throw out some other bands to namecheck, I'd say if one were to mix Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Symphony X, Evergrey and Enchant (yes, really) together along with a hint of thrash, then what would result is the 2002/3 edition of Lab�¿rinth. It's an album that grabs you with the first track and holds on through out. There are hints of classic metal in their sound -- the example is the rollicking ride that is "This World." In fact, this particular track very much reminded me of a more aggressive Enchant (whose new one is sitting right here, too). An even more aggressive sonic slash comes in the form of "Just Soldier (Stay Down)" which immediately follows. Stancioiu's double-bassing very much in evidence here, but he does mix it up, and here it just plan works. There is some industrial sounding effects at the end that I'm not convinced works, however.

Another track that really stands out and features some terrific guitar work from Cantarelli is "When I Fly Far," which closes the album. It is a softer track, more melodic that the harder driving material that precedes it, but it is quite lovely. But then, Cantarelli plays here in that emotive, make-every-note-count kind of way that I so love (ahem, Rothery, Gilmore, Latimer, etc.).

I didn't think I would, but I really like this release from Lab�¿rinth. And the more I play it, the more I like it. In fact, I like it enough that I'm willing to give Return To Heaven Denied another listen. Better balanced mix, at least for my ears, would have netted this disc a perfect score from me; as it is, it comes very darn close. And is certain on my recommended list; time will tell if it makes my top 10 for the year?

The Prophet (4:46) / Livin' In A Maze (4:37) / This World (4:55) / Just Soldier (Stay Down) (5:26) / Neverending Rest (4:54) / Terzinato (5:49) / Slave To The Night (6:06) / Synthetic Paradise (5:48) / Hand In Hand (4:26) / When I Fly Far (5:16)

Roberto Tiranti - vocals
Andrea Cantarelli - guitars
Cristiano Bertocchi - bass
Andrea De Paoli - keyboards
Mattia Stancioiu - 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: July 1st 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 693
Language: english


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