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4th Labyrinth: Better

Proudly returning with a second album simply titled Better (although it’s only 36 minutes long), are award winning Cambridge rockers 4th Labyrinth, a band who undoubtedly know their way around a progressive party or two but who also like to rock hard and like it’s 1974. One of the main ways they do exactly that is through the vocal contribution from Marcel Kunkel, although it’s maybe his swirling organ sounds that truly dominate.

Opener “This Is Rock ’n’ Roll” powers into view full of vim and vigour but it’s the precise nature of the attack that actually makes you sit up and take notice. “Better” maybe doesn’t fully live up to its name but it certainly doesn’t allow the standard to drop as bassist Claudia McKenzie lays down the bottom end thick and hard, and guitarist Andy Cross makes the most of every opportunity he has to force his way to the front. With drummer Tom Winch a forcefully solid presence throughout it really feels like this band and mini-album is set to truly make its mark. However, for me, once the energetic “Keep Me From Falling” saves you from the drop, it’s the lack of variety across the second half of this release that causes things to slip away.

Not that any of “Your Symphony”, “I’m A Hunter” or “Make It Mine” provide any real reason for complaint but they just seem to lack the same impact that the early forays on this release come so replete with. Kunkel’s vocal delivery remains impassioned and the guitar/key interplay still impresses and yet none of these last four cuts on Better truly stick in my mind.

Checking out the live clips on the 4th Labyrinth website, I think it’s safe to suggest that the real belters on this album come across even stronger on stage and somehow those moments that don’t quite connect with me do so when taken out of the studio. And yet the sound and mix on Better doesn’t cause any reason for concern, so possibly the issues are more in song pacing and placement?

Either way, Better is still a worthy release and one that shows a huge deal of retro prog rock promise.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. This Is Rock ’n’n Roll
3. Better
4. Darkness Calling
5. Keep me From Falling
6. Your Symphony
7. I’m A Hunter
8. This Feeling
9. Make It Mine

Added: October 7th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: 4th Labyrinth online
Hits: 719
Language: english

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