Elegy is without doubt one of Europe's finest bands mixing equal proportions of melodic, power, and progressive metal -- and Labyrinth of Dreams is their debut album. Though it is certainly not their best offering, given its release date (1993), it is certainly an important record in that it helped kick-start the band and opened them a solid career, setting them apart from many other acts along the way.
While some of the compositions on this disc are significantly lacking, they still signal what's to come from this amazing band. There are the ultra-fast speedy songs like "The Grand Change", which they further explored on their sophomore release, Supremacy; and "I'm No Fool", noteworthy for its use of neoclassical guitar parts and high-pitched vocal technique. Also, the band tried their hands at more epic compositions on "Take My Love", mixing radio-friendly choruses with heavy-duty riffing and pounding drumming. The title track is a power ballad building to an intense finale where dual guitars shred wildly while "Over and Out" sees the band veering yet into another musical path, this time combining the aesthetic of melodic metal with early Helloween-like vocals. Then, there is also the instrumental stuff, with lots of shred-intensive guitar passages building into nice unison leads, best heard on "Mass Hysteria".
Vocalist Eduard Hovinga generally sings in a high pitch, recalling Ray Alder on his first Fates Warning album. His voice does falter in places, but he finds his true self on the following releases, particularly Lost. His power metal styled singing has always reminded me of the original Chroming Rose vocalist, which is a good thing.
As this review clearly implies, there is plenty of material on display here. However, Elegy became the great band we all came to love and respect once they managed to organize their musical ideas in a more harnessed and refined context, especially during the Ian Parry era. Also, on the next two Hovinga-period discs, the band would remove themselves entirely from the more rock-driven form and focus on speed metal meets melodic metal. Also, keep in mind, the band had no full-time drummer when they recorded this disc. On drums there is the amazing Ed Warby -- sadly though, the drum sound is not the best.
Metal Mind's remastered version of the album sounds better than the original, but that doesn't mean the production is on par with the band's future releases handled by noted producer Tommy Newton. As bonus material, there is an instrumental track called simply "Ballad" which is guitarist and main songwriter Henk Van Der Laars' first ever instrumental recording. Also, there is a video of the second track, "I'm No Fool".
Labyrinth of Dreams is not an essential record, but if you're an Elegy fan and a completist, don't hesitate to pick it up. It is amazing how they transfromed from this into the band that made State of Mind.
- Grand Change
- I'm No Fool
- Take My Love
- All Systems Go [Instrumental]
- Trouble in Paradise
- Over and Out
- Labyrinth of Dreams
- Mass Hysteria [Instrumental]
- Guiding Light
- Guiding Light [*][Demo Version]
- Ballad [Instrumental]
- I'm No Fool [Videoclip][*]