Wim S. : So, this is serious shit! Epic Mind is the name of the band and they are from Holland. With 'Through The Labyrinth’ they release a self financed fine debut album. The band was already founded in 2008 by guitarist Raoul Van Oosten and bassist Nathaniël Sonneveld, both from Serendipity. The band focused mainly on playing as many shows as possible, which in 2014 for instance resulted in reaching the semi-finals of the Metal Battle. Then the band started writing songs and in 2015 the recording sessions started. Throughout the process Sonneveld left the band (he's still on this CD), and he was replaced by Jari Stoppelenburg.
The album opens with the great instrumental ‘Epitome’, which merges into the long 'The Voyage'. During those two songs you immediately hear the strengths and weaknesses of the band. Strengths are the composition and structure of the songs: they are really excellent. And the band has three very talented musicians in the line-up, from which van Oosten is the most striking. He plays great riffs and solos, and he sophistically alternates heavy and soft pieces (as you can hear in the beautiful 'Salvation'). Not all transitions are equally flawless or tight (‘Heresy’), but overall it is very well done. Less strong - as so often – is the voice of Leon Vonk. He lacks power and strength (in the more heavy pieces he sings very forced, like in ‘Depths Of The Unknown’, or the second part of 'Salvation'), and he lacks real emotion in his voice. He just cannot use a louder voice because he does not have that..In more melodic pieces he is just OK. Best songs are 'Denim Recipe’ (is beautifully put together, with original riffs and construction) and the clearly by Savatage inspired ‘Nameless' (with beautiful piano part of van Oosten). The album closes out with the magnus opus ‘Perfect War Machine’, a 20 minute track, that is structured as a triptych. In this song the band proves to be further than, for example, a band like Knight Area when it comes to songwriting (and that is a compliment); it is much more coherent. It's also a song in which we hear drummer Folkert Blom finally using his double bass a lot. This is how it should be done!
If the album had been an instrumental album it would have scored a full point more, now I give a well deserved 75. Band with potential!