Published on February 7th, 2021 | by Justin G.
Labyrinth: Welcome To The Absurd Circus (Frontiers, 2021)
Long-running Italian progressive/power metal band Labyrinth is back with a new album, their ninth to date, titled Welcome To The Absurd Circus. It wouldn’t be a Labyrinth album without at least some lineup shuffling, so this time around the band brought in drummer Matt Peruzzi (Shadows Of Steel) to replace John Macaluso. Otherwise the lineup from 2017’s Architecture Of A God is in place.
The Labyrinth albums since guitarist Olaf Thorson and vocalist Roberto Tiranti both returned have been solidly rooted in their classic sound, and Welcome To The Absurd Circus is no exception. If you can look past the terrible Black Lotus Records 2005ish cover art (seriously, who approved that?), it has everything you want from a Labyrinth album. You get some of the best elements of the Italian power metal sound, but without the cheesiness that style is known for. Instead the power metal side is paired with a solid progressive metal flair. Not over-the-top, but Thorson definitely shows what he’s capable of. And of course Tiranti delivers an excellent vocal performance, showcasing his power and range, and adding a certain emotional resonance to these very relevant songs. This is the second Labyrinth album produced and mixed/mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM), and while he seems to touch every new Italian power metal album, he seems to have the perfect formula for giving Labyrinth a more modern finish.
“The Absurd Circus” and “Live For Today” kick the album off on a very strong note, and while songs that take on the ills of social media are somewhat passe at this point, “Den Of Snakes” covers the topic well. There’s a well-executed cover of Ultravox’s “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” that somehow fits quite well on the album, and towards the end “A Reason To Survive” is an emotional slow build to the dramatic closer “Finally Free.”
If you’re a long-time Labyrinth fan, especially one who may have lost track of the band in the past decade or so, Welcome To The Absurd Circus should make it seem like no time has passed since Sons Of Thunder came out. If you’ve followed them faithfully over the years, you know how strong the band has been of late, and you can rest assured that this album lives up to those high expectations. It’s right up there with recent releases by Secret Sphere, DGM and Stratovarius.
Summary: Another strong collaboration between Thorson, Tiranti and Mularoni.