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Strangers On A Train - The Key, Part II - The Labyrinth CD (album) cover


Strangers On A Train



3.12 | 46 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I was not really charmed with their first release, the first of a trilogy (?). The approach for the second leg is a bit different: while there were lots of short pieces in "The Prophecy", there are only five songs (for over seventy-two minutes of music) for this one.

It is obviously more a Clive effort, with some bombastic keys (just listen to the instrumental intro of the opener) which might sound rather pretentious, very much Wakeman-esque IMHHO. This long song (over twenty-minutes) has a lot to share with some tracks from "A Trick Of The Tail" (the quiet ones like "Ripples" or "Mad Man Moon"). Oldfield is not alien either. As you can see, the references are quite good, but this piece sounds a bit borrowed even if it is a fine one after all.

Unlike some other reviewers, I'm not reluctant to the nice voice from Tracy Hitching (from "Landmarq") who is backed up with Alan Reed (the only new member for this album) from "Pallas", with only one exception.

This work sounds a lot more symphonic as neo-prog IMO. When you listen to "Hijrah", "Renaissance" comes immediately to mind. Same great keyboards and orchestrated-type sounds. Soberly is still not its most famous quality.

The title track is my least favourite one. Highly acoustic in its first half, I wonder what happened to Tracy's voice here: like Matti highlights in his review, it sounds indeed as Bonnie Tyler at times! Not quite expected. The second part is unfortunately no better: it is a long and dull instrumental section with no passion. Truly boring and repetitive. Press next.

The mellow "Vision Clears" is only shining thanks to the excellent guitar solo from Karl Groom who is rather discreet so far.

The album started very promisingly, but fell a bit flat after the first two very good songs. The longest piece "Endzone "(over twenty-three minutes) starts on the same mellow mood as "The Labyrinth". The relief is that Tracy sounds a lot better during her vocal parts, but it takes too much time to really start. (actually, it only does so during the last minute and a half)! Some fine acoustic guitar play with some Spanish accents, aerial vocals that's for sure. But I would have preferred some more bombastic sections like during the opener.

Even if it is quite uncertain that the thrid and final leg of thistrilogy would ever see the light (there are still no real project to do so some fifteen years after this Labyrinth), the Verglas web-site always takes it for granted that this will happen. Stay tune.

This album should please symphonic prog lovers. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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