LABYRINTH - Decisively Self-Titled
By Martin Popoff

I never gave much notice to this band of ex-ballerina metal Italians, despite their status as number four of the big four of European power metal (oh hell, I just made that up... well, it actually is accurate; for the top three, let's go with Rhapsody, Stratovarius and Blind Guardian). But man, there's something about the Labyrinth's new beginning as marked by their new self-titled album, new, more serious cover art (by Travis Smith), the departure of guitarist Olaf Thorsen, and most notably, the album's soulful, emotional push/pull humanity (think Steel Prophet, or Riot fronted by Glenn Hughes), its compactness of tone yet its metal-wide grandeur, exhibited on tracks like Slave Of The Night and Synthetic Paradise, not to mention a good half dozen of the best choruses from the genre in the last three or four years.

Fact is, guitarist Andrea Cantarelli seems just as impatient with power metal as I am, an attitude which I guess constructs a healthy platform from which to create music that is a cut above, yet still within the realm of the band's old fussy sound.

"When we started the writing session for this album, the band wanted to do something different, a new start for the band," explains Andrea in struggling but enthusiastic English. "The band has seen a lot of situations in the last three years, things like legal action against our old label, Pick-Up Records here in Italy, and Olaf leaving the band. So we wanted to do something really new. My music, for sure, is not really original of course: it's only heavy metal. But there is a feeling in the songs, which is really important. So when I started to write the songs, with the other guys in the band... the band play only what they really feel. I don't know if you know what I mean, but a song like Just Soldier (Stay Down), that song started something like a joke, because me and Matt are real thrash music fans, so I started to play something really fast, and then after only an hour, the song was born. So it was fun. I don't want to think about the response of the fans or the critics, the magazines, radio. Of course it's really important, but I don't want to play music just for the music business, I want to play for myself."

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