Beyond The Labyrinth's 5th album xxV, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band, is not what I expected, as the songs on this new album are much shorter and all have a more classic rock vibe, meaning NO prog rock passages and almost no solos or long instrumental passages.
However, it is still a quite enjoyable album featuring a wide range of musical influences, nice melodies, and excellent compositions. Louder Than Thunder, one of my personal favs, features a nice riffy intro followed by a superb neo-classic guitar solo and an addictive singalong chorus. Dedicated To Sir J./Rush Rush Rush is a marvellous tribute song to the legendary Jon Lord and also a must play song on Beyond The Labyrinth's upcoming live shows. Another up-tempo song is called This Is How We Roll, almost 100% pure rock and roll indeed and again very catchy. xxV also contains a couple of ballads, like e.g., Invisible Battle Scars, Rise Above and In Camera; songs that do not belong to the highlights of this album as I tend to find them too mediocre and too predictable.... Up There In The Sky is definitely the odd one out here, as it kicks off with serious techno beats and then evolves into a pop/rock song in the veins of Saga and ABBA; check it out!
xxV is classic rock/hard rock all over and I wonder if true prog rock fans might enjoy this album. But give it a try as Beyond The Labyrinth truly excels in this vintage melodic almost classic rock. Advice: play it LOUD, and if you do not like eighties synthesizer sounds then you might not like this album....
*** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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