Reviewed: May, 2021
Released: January 22, 2021, Frontiers Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Italian power metal giants Labÿrinth have been one of my favorite bands since first discovering their 1998 masterpiece, RETURN TO HEAVEN DENIED. The band once had Fabio Lione of Rhapsody (of Fire) fame in it’s ranks. There have been a couple line up changes and some vocalists changes but Roberto Tyranti seems to always grace us with is phenomenal voice on each album since 1998, when each of the band members used Anglicized pseudonyms. Founder and guitarist Olaf Thorsen (still using the stage name) has seemed to not only keep this band alive but has managed to create top quality power metal time and time again. Their most recent full length, WELCOME TO THE ABSURD CIRCUS, shows that this band is not slowing down any time soon.
“The Absurd Circus” kicks things off and what a way to start. This song is huge and it hits you right away. Once again this band is the epitome of European power metal. The riffs and Mr. Tyranti’s soaring vocals grace us almost instantly. The melodies on this song are incredible, both the vocals and the guitars. Not only is Olaf Thorsen an incredible song writer but his guitar work is astounding. What I love the most is he makes sure songs like this have solos, lots of them, and not to mention the guitar keyboard battles. That is how power metal is done. Not just double bass runs over chugs….I need substance and Labÿrinth delivers on this song. Another thing I noticed is the subject matter is a bit dark because this album is their commentary on the times we are in and they pretty much nailed it with the Absurd Circus theme. “Live Today” follows it up in true Labÿrinth fashion. Once again, another huge song with so many layers and shredding solos. This is a faster paced song and is the perfect song to follow the opener to help set the pace of the album.
As with all of their classic albums, it’s the melodies that are the hooks. A song like “One More Last Chance” is so full of melody that it could border on pop if it wasn’t so metal. What happens here is they find that balance between speed, aggression, and melody. “Den of Snakes” is a prime example of that balance; and it being one of the most melodic songs on the album it is also one of the best. The musicianship is astounding and the subject matter is quite heavy dealing with the current addiction our society has on social media and technology. And while this seems to be a loosely related concept album with that central theme, each song can stand alone as well. “World’s Minefield” starts with so much melody and builds to this huge song that flows with so many layers while “The Unexpected” follows it with the speed and crushing riffs. There is also a technicality to their music that is borderline prog that adds just one more layer to these songs. “Finally Free” needs mention as it is the perfect closer because it is the type of song that sums up the entire album in six and a half minutes. The speed, the riffs, the melodies and those godly solos.
As I mentioned earlier, Labÿrinth has been one of my favorite bands for over two decades now and it’s so refreshing to hear that they have maintained their winning formula. While some bands of the genre have experimented with other sounds or just watered theirs down, Labÿrinth have been able to keep the elements that made me love power metal. WELCOME TO THE ABSURD CIRCUS is Labÿrinth telling us they have a lot more to offer us. I’ll take it!