Posted on March 23 th. 2020
Questionnaire by Officer Nice on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Hello guys, here Rico, aka officer Nice from the Metal To Infinity webzine. I have some questions for you, hope you’ll enjoy them.
Officer Nice: Not everybody knows Beyond The Labyrinth, so please introduce us to the band and the history so far.
Geert Fieuw: In 2021, Beyond the Labyrinth will celebrate its 25th birthday. Starting off in an era where grunge and extreme metal genres were on the rise, with a mission to bring back the melody.
BTL play accessible Classic Rock with clean vocals and outspoken melodies. Driven by (guitar player/song writer) Geert Fieuw who is the mainstay of the band. 4 full albums up to 2019, quite some singles and video clips. The band’s credo is “Conceive, Believe, Achieve”.
Officer Nice: I know the band longer and so I noticed a big change into the line-up. You have a new singer, someone all Belgian metal heads should know. Tell us more about it. How did you guys manage this cooperation?
Geert Fieuw: Lots of coffee and cookies …. This line up is full of ages of experience Filip Lemmens (ex-Fireforce, ex-Double Diamond) has joined the band beginning of 2019 but was already helping out the band for live concerts end of 2018 and also performed a song on the 2017 “The Art Of Resilience” album. The relationship between Geert and Filip dates back from as early as 1998 or so. What is often less highlighted: A bit earlier, spring 2018, BTL also had bass player Wilfried Kiekens (re-)join us. Wilf brings us ages of experience and musical vision. The relationship between Geert and Wilf dates back from as early as 1994 or so….
Officer Nice: What’s the difference for the band, musical wise, now Filip joined the band?
Geert Fieuw: With every line-up change, the musical direction varies a bit as band members all have their various influences. People see Filip as a metal singer, but he is much more versatile. He can sing Classic Rock, AOR, Power Metal, you name it. We hope that the versatility pays off for future songs… For live shows, Filip has managed to get the band to focus a bit more on the rock side of the music, on the energetic aspect.
Officer Nice: The opposite question is interested as well… What are the differences for the new singer, now he sings with a Progressive Metal band?
Geert Fieuw: Classifying Beyond the Labyrinth as a progressive metal band does the band wrong and puts the potential listener on the wrong foot.
BTL plays a mix of 70’s pop and rock and 80’s metal. Yes, the influences are wide. Progressive Metal is hard to follow, difficult to grasp stuff, with a hard-to-please “as difficult as possible is just good enough” mentality . BTL is accessible music, melodic rock with the focus on the son, where a riff can be as simple as a basic AC/DC riff, with memorable melodies : first comes the song.
For Filip, singing in BTL allows him to sing with more ease, more control, and more variation.
Officer Nice: In my hands I have a promo from the new EP. What can you tell us about the EP?
Geert Fieuw: The E.P. “Brand New Start” is released through the Dutch label Freya Records and contains 4 tracks. It is basically a showcase demonstrating how the band sounds nowadays.
Officer Nice: Why did you chose to write only 4 songs for an EP and not a full album? How were the reviews until now anyway?
Geert Fieuw: Actually, only 1 song is new : Brand New Start. “Shine” is a complete makeover of the very first BTL song ever released (from 1997). “In Flanders Fields” is a rerecording the bands best known song, where it all started (originally from “Signs”, 2005). “Salve Mater” (originally on “The Art Of Resilience” is a new recording of the song where the collaboration with Filip started.
Officer Nice: Did you read our review? Agrees of disagrees?
Geert Fieuw: Yes, agree for most of it. However, there are more melodic bands in Belgium than just us. Of course, Filip is ex Double Diamond and not Diamond Head. Again, we don’t see BTL as progressive. We agree with your point of view of it being a blended mix.
Your recognition point “Y&T meets Pink Floyd meets Dream Theater” … How about “Savatage meets Marillion” ? or “Kansas, Pretty Maids and Autograph” ? or “the song writing of Abba with the power of AC/DC and the sonic imagery of Hans Zimmer”..
Pick any combination of bands on top from the ones already mentioned from this list and it will always work : Whitesnake … Saxon …. Europe …Saga… Journey … Survivor … Threshold …Toto … Rainbow …. Deep Purple … Uriah Heep … Triumph …Queen … Judas Priest … Iron Maiden …
Officer Nice: What is the position of Beyond the Labyrinth in the Belgian Metal scène? What are the expectations with the new line-up? What can you tell about this Belgian scène anyway?
Geert Fieuw: We are unique. And being positioned as “Metal” is not always beneficial. We have the right songs and the right sound to reach out to a broader audience, the audience that still listens to Bon Jovi, Europe, Deep Purple and are unaware that accessible hard rock and metal is still being made today …. It is a perpetual fight for recognition.
A song is a good song when one can play it with only a voice and an acoustic guitar or piano. Not amazingly, when BTL plays acoustic shows (like the “Puur Puur Puur” we organized end of December), we manage to reach and convince people that are not into metal or even hard rock: the songs don’t need the full armor jacket but remain recognizable in their purest form.
This Belgian scene is a very small one. We are underground. And BTL is a niche of that underground. There are a lot of Quality Belgian bands and great festivals, but somehow after all these years there still isn’t the necessary structure for bands to break out from the country. We should be more chauvinistic and self-assured like the Dutch, the Germans, and the English. Less humble and more proud of ourselves, only questioning ourselves in private. We should stop glorifying bands just become the come from abroad.
Music business wise, Belgium has never been seen as a country where music should be developed, but only as an extension of the domestic market. Flanders was an extension for the music market for The Netherlands, Wallonia an extension for France. An extension where it was much more profitable promoting existing artists on the roster than developing Belgian artists.
Officer Nice: What are the plans for the near future?
Geert Fieuw: 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of BTL. If possible and feasible, we would like to release a 5th full album.
Officer Nice: 2019 is almost over. What were the most remarkable albums for you until now?
Geert Fieuw: Eternal Breath “World Of Chaos” and Wildheart “No Love”come to mind.
Officer Nice: Any last words for our readers?
Geert Fieuw: We are seeing a new dawn, where our lifestyle will be changed. Remember: this may be a passion, but it’s also “just” entertainment, the fun side of life.