Labyrinth - Freeman
Arise Records
Progressive Power Metal
10 songs (47'25)
Release year: 2005
Labyrinth, Arise Records
Reviewed by Ben

Freeman has been the most talked about Labyrinth album in the band’s lengthy career, namely because of the pre-release hype. A new logo, a strange cover, and a new record label all had me guessing at what this new Labyrinth would sound like. I read some of the first reviews for Freeman and they were not positive at all with comparisons to Christian rock, nu metal, and overall wimpiness. I was beginning to worry and the day this finally arrived I was hesitant, apprehensive, and skeptical. In short, I went in expecting to be thoroughly disappointed. From the first strains of LYAFH all the way through the closing notes of Meanings, I was entranced by the music, so beautiful, so gorgeous. This is both the heaviest album and the lightest album that Labyrinth has ever produced. With each heavy riff and crunch, there is also emotional and uplifting feeling put into each of the ten tracks. Gone are the days of light speed guitar shredding, raging double bass, and manic keyboard runs. In their places are mostly mid tempo songs with varied time changes, atmospheric keyboard passages, and songs that deliver a message as opposed to fantasy oriented themes that were so prevalent on the first three albums. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Labyrinth have eschewed their Power Metal roots and have become a full fledged Progressive Metal band because Freeman is so far removed from anything they have ever done before. “Labyrinth as a Prog Metal act? How the hell does that work?” Very well and that is definitely an understatement.

There are a multitude of emotions conveyed throughout the course of the ten songs and that is one of the greatest appeals of the album. Songs such as LYAFH and the title track both have a sense of desperate longing in them and tracks like M3 and Meanings are energetic and pulsating with a vibrant exuberant energy that feels as if it is hardly being contained within the plastic of the disc. M3 is my personal favorite with its faster rhythm and captivating bridge. Rob Tiranti’s vocal performance is also superb, I love the little inflections that he gives the verses. Dive In Open Waters sounds like it could easily slip in on Bruce Dickinson’s Skunkwork’s album with its modern hard rockin’ intro. Other personal highlights include the title track with its electronic breakdown after the second chorus, opener LYAFH because of its uplifting guitar tone and chorus, and Meanings, the most electronically abundant song on the whole album. Malcolm Grey however, is the best example of how much the band has changed. This doesn’t even sound like Labyrinth! If someone would have told me it was Cea Serin instead I would have believed them because this song sounds as if it were lifted off Where Memories Combine. Brooding piano, ambient sounds, spoken vocals that drip with torment and rage, and permeating sense of gloom all make up the fabric of Malcom Grey and turn this into the musician’s highlight of the album.

In case it wasn’t obvious by the score and the review, I am in awe of Freeman. To step off the beaten Power Metal path, a path that Labyrinth helped form (for years after Return..., every Italian band sounded like Rhapsody or Labyrinth) and make a full on Progressive Metal album such as this takes courage. I know that this album will cause a heated debate between fans, those that stick by their Return to Heaven Denied albums religiously and those that are like me who love this new sound. To those in the former camp of fans, I recommend Pier’s band Odyssea if you are looking for the successor to Return…. If you want a fresh Progressive Metal album, one that I consider the most enjoyable release of the year so far then you would do well to pick this one up.

Killing Songs :
M3, LYAFH, Malcom Grey, Meanings
Ben quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Labyrinth that we have reviewed:
Labyrinth - Welcome To The Absurd Circus reviewed by Ben and quoted 84 / 100
Labyrinth - Return To Heaven Denied Part II reviewed by Ben and quoted 82 / 100
Labyrinth - Architecture Of A God reviewed by Ben and quoted 85 / 100
Labyrinth - 6 Days To Nowhere reviewed by Ben and quoted 57 / 100
Labyrinth - No Limits reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
3 readers voted
Your quote was: 89.
Change your vote

There are 11 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jun 21, 2005 9:06 pm
View and Post comments