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Lab˙rinth - Sons of Thunder  CD (album) cover

SONS OF THUNDER

Lab˙rinth

 

Progressive Metal

3.08 | 19 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The first power-progressive metal album that I will review for PA, Labyrinth's SONS OF THUNDER is a true by-the-book release within that genre, with just a few outstanding elements that save it from fading into oblivion.

First, a word about the band itself: just like almost every power-prog metal group listed here on PA, Labyrinth's musicians are very, very talented at each of their instruments, and that holds particularly true about the guitarists: Rain's and Thorsen's fingers have that unique speed that this genre's axe-players usually possess; their solos defy the speed of light, scales go up and down like tornados. The keyboard player is talented, yet doesn't shine. Drums are played as is the norm in this genre: double-bass pounding at high speeds, a few fills here and there, some drum intros consisting mostly of bass drums and a few cymbals abound. The bass player follows suit, too, as he is very fast and precise. Finally, let's say a few words about the singer: Rob Tyrant (actually, Tiranti is his last name, don't understand the point in the name change) is a typical power-metal singer but with a twist: he has a tone that reminds me a lot, at some times, of Enchant's Ted Leonard's voice, high pitched but also very... "boy-ish". I think Tyrant is a good singer but nothing amazing, nor different...

...And that's the major problem with Labyrinth. Their music is, like their playing, completely by-the-book power-prog-metal, with the balance shifted more towards the "power" side than to the "prog" side of things. If we are to compare them with any band, let's say they sound a little bit like Rhapsody but less bombastic, a little bit like Angra but less interesting, a little bit like Stratovarius but more proggy, a little bit like Symphony X but DEFINITELY less prog. Actually, New Jersey's outfit is the band Labyrinth's reminds us the most, but a SIMPLER, MORE RUDIMENTAL version that is. Whereas Symphony X's music has a lot of time-signature changes, a lot of different ryhthms, a lot of melodic instrumental parts, this Italian band's songs are very much straight-forward: same time-signature all the time, same rhythm throughout each whole song, guitar solos only when guitar solos usually go: after the second chorus. So, structures are not one of Labyrinth's most arresting features, as they are rather common, rather trivial, rather uninspired.

And that's the major problem with this album: it lacks variety. Most of the songs follow the same pattern, the same formula; the choruses lack the catchiness that this genre's choruses cry for and need in order to survive (try Stratovarius' or Rhapsody's chorus: you won't easily forget them). And, my biggest objection about power-metal: the drumming: it's fast, no doubt; it's difficult to emulate, no question; it requires great precision and strength, for sure; IT'S REPETITIVE AND UNCREATIVE, that's its pricipal characteristic. All we hear is 16ths played till death in the double-bass drums, with no time for rest and no originality. And I have to say: you CAN be creative with the double- bass. Just listen to Portnoy's drumming, or if you want creative ULTRA-FAST double bass, try Meshuggah: those are bass drums played at the utmost speed, but also with the highest level of UNIQUENESS, with complicate, sometimes incredible patterns. So speed doesn't always have to mean repetitive. It's just some lesser power-metal bands that make us believe that.

Now don't get me wrong, the album is not bad. It has a few good songs (specially the two first songs, they stand out above the rest by a LOT). The story is, incredibly, rather coherent and not as fantastic and ridiculous as many in this genre's albums (we don't have dragons and swords here, though I happen to like the band that deals with that). But the record gets boring halfway down, and what's the main reason? Uninspired playing, repetitive playing. We have a few good guitar solos but NOTHING WE HAVEN'T HEARD BEFORE.

That's my biggest complaint: this album is one more from the lot.

There's a few good bands that play power-metal with prog elements, and only some of those actually manage to truly play PROG-METAL: Symphony X comes to mind; Angra a little bit lower in the scale; Rhapsody, though cheesy at times, plays compelling, entertaining music. Stratovarius plays very melodic, catchy metal. But Labyrinth is just another one, not a great representative of the genre.

Recommended for: fans of power-progressive-metal that tend more to the "power" side; fans of power-metal; fans of speed and blazing solos.

Not recommended for: fans of real progressive metal, fans of unique, original music. Also not recommended for people that love their album covers: this one has one of the ugliest, most awful, cheesy ones.

The T | 2/5 |

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