Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19th, 2012 - Labyrinth Rising or A Light In the Black Ale

As this week is the two year anniversary of Ronnie James Dio's death, I thought I would honor him tonight by pairing Rainbow's seminal, proto-metal album, "Rising" with Uinta Brewing Company's Labyrinth Black Ale - two rocking monsters of their respective genres!

As the name of the beer and the label denotes, Uinta's Labyrinth is a complex, "multi-dimensional" black ale.  With a high alcohol content, brewed with licorice sticks, and aged in oak barrels, it is an incredibly bold ale with multiple layers of flavor.  It pours a deep dark and opaque chocolate with a thin caramel head with light lacing.  What is most noticeable about the nose is the obvious licorice aroma intertwined with earthy, coffee notes and a subtle bittersweet chocolatey note.  Like the nose the flavor is rich, licoricey, and multi-leveled.  The toasted chocolate malts are strong, but silky smooth and their is a not-so subtle bourbon finish.  You don't want to take the Labyrinth lightly.  It demands attention!  This is definitely a big, bold "sipper" of a beer!

For such a profoundly big beer, one needs an equally big and complex album and "Rising" delivers!  The 1976 sophomore album of Rainbow is a wonderfully complex and "multi-dimensional" hard rock/progressive rock/metal masterpiece.  This is quite possibly the perfect album.  The song writing and musicianship is just top-notch... so incredibly influential and inspiring.  And the production by mastermind Martin Birch ranks among his best.  Ronnie James Dio's emotional vocals and Ritchie Blackmore's other-worldly guitars soar over the bombastic and brutal rhythm section of Jimmy Bain's thumping bass and the late Cozy Powell's explosive drumming, all while Tony Carey's synthesizers invoke the spirits of Emerson and Wakeman - conjuring images of wizards, dragons, and heroes.  Song's like "Tarot Woman," "Starstruck," and the two final pieces: "Stargazer" and "A Light In The Black" really encompass the full-bodied intensity of the Labyrinth Black Ale... so very multi-dimensional in their approach, intent, and delivery.  Every song is a gem. "Stargazer" alone basically is the text book for the perfect power metal song... intense, emotional, bombastic and in your face... just like the Labyrinth!  Cozy Powell's opening drum work is that of legend and sets the standard for all metal drummers.  Blackmore's guitar work on "Stargazer" may outdo his Deep Purple era work... maybe.  :)  And of course then there is Dio's lyrics and amazing vocals.  'Nuff said!

So what are you waiting for?  Go pick up a pint of Labyrinth Black Ale from Uinta Brewing Company and a copy of Rainbow's "Rising" from my buddy Kevin down at the Heavy Metal Shop here is in Salt Lake City, kick back, and enjoy an evening of "sheer profundity"!!  Cheers!!  (The Meista)

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