Album review: JAMES LABRIE – Impermanent Resonance

Inside Out  [Release Date: 29.07.13]

Dream Theater are a multi-million making Prog Metal machine and, as such, rightfully the main priority of all the band members. With a new studio album scheduled to be released late this summer, the idea of any member working on additional musical projects may sound impossible, to say the least, but then again, Canadian vocalist James LaBrie can hardly be described as ordinary!

Following the resounding success of his previous solo effort “Static Impulse” (2010), James once again joined forces with Matt Guillory and, with his valuable assistance, created another top quality album, entitled “Impermanent Resonance”.

When you have a musician of James LaBrie’s quality singing on an album, you expect the focus to be placed on his powerful vocals and “Impermanent Resonance” does not disappoint at all in that respect. James’ multi-ranged vocal performances are of the utmost quality and, most importantly, there isn’t a single composition that doesn’t contain a memorable hook or an emotionally-charged refrain, the kind that you will find yourself singing along to.

What will certainly surprise (hopefully, pleasantly) the most loyal of Dream Theater’s fans, however, is the use of supporting Death Metal vocals, low-chorded heavy guitars and dark/Gothy keyboards, all of which are responsible for adding much flair to the proceedings. That sounds pretty cool, right?

There really are no words to describe the buzz that I got after first listening to the opening track “Agony”. Based on a killer Gothenburg-sounding low-chorded riff, this four and a half minute composition features a cleverly crafted lead guitar solo and the kind of anthemic refrain that most melody-driven bands would sacrifice their right arm for.

Also featuring Death Metal vocals, courtesy of Matt Guillory, and key tunes of dark/Goth persuasion, “Undertow” is another stand-out track, while the more melodic “Slight Of Hand” will particularly appeal to every single “Awake” era Dream Theater fan.

Though clearly targeting the US Rock market, “Back On The Ground” is a real melodic gem that deserves your attention; the same applies to the much more flamboyant “I Got You”.

Sandwiched between the simply-crafted but much appealing “Holding On”, “Lost In The Fire” and “Destiny To Burn” lies “Letting Go” – a four minute heavy riffed monster which features one of the most memorable refrains of the album, while “Say You’re Still Mine” is the kind of balance that the rest of the guys in Dream Theater might have liked to be included on the band’s upcoming studio album.

The last two compositions of the album help to further strengthen its status as a truly impressive body of work, with “Amnesia” presenting an array of catchy multi-layered vocal melodies, while “I Will Not Break” features a drum theme whose speed and heaviness is sure to impress, perhaps even promising more varied future musical escapades from this mighty Canadian.

The more I listen to “Impermanent Resonance”, the more I realise what a clever piece of work it really is. Though seemingly straightforward and easily accessible, the twelve compositions on offer are products of intelligent musicianship, patiently crafted by a group of musicians with a soft spot from rich melodies, but who are also not afraid to step on the accelerator when needed.

If you choose to invest in LaBrie’s latest solo offering, what you are guaranteed are many hours of top quality entertainment, courtesy of one of the best vocalists in the music industry. Who can say “no” to that?

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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