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James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance

James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance

InsideOut Music
Being the singer of the most popular progressive metal band on the planet can be overwhelming at times. James LaBrie has fronted Dream Theater since 1991 and his voice is one of the trademark sounds of the band. LaBrie is back with his third solo release Impermanent Resonance that incorporates a lot of influences from Dream Theater, but adds enough changes to make it a unique offering.

The lineup is intact from his last release, 2010s Static Impulse. The musicians that surround LaBrie are incredibly talented. Guitar player Marco Sfogli and keyboard player Matt Guillory played with LaBrie in his other side project Mullmuzzler and the rhythm section of Ray Riendeau (ex-Halford) and Peter Wildoer (Darkane) is world class.

Wildoer in particular brings the music to another level as he also provides guttural vocals and incorporates melodic death drumming in spots. The man is a beast behind the kit and was a finalist for the Dream Theater drum vacancy that eventually went to Mike Mangini. Wildoer’s performance brings a more modern sound to the record.

The record starts with the melodic death leanings of “Agony.” Not too far from Soilwork, the song comes roaring out of the gates with dexterous drum work and some blast beats before Wildoer spews forth an aggressive vocal melody. LaBrie quickly joins in and creates a memorable vocal melody that is an excellent contrast to the aggression. The guitar playing behind the chorus in particular is extraordinary as Sfogli plays a counter melody behind LaBrie’s vocal. With its modern riffing and vocal approach, “Agony” could be on any modern rock radio channel as a single.

Songwriting is the highlight on Impermanent Resonance as the songs are straight to the point and not overinflated. Most songs range between three and four minutes and are chorus driven. LaBrie actually seems more suited for this type of music than his main band. His vocals are melodic, he utilizes a great range and this is the hookiest record of his career. Listen to the outstanding choruses on “Undertow,” “Back on the Ground” and the infectious “Holding On.”

The record is solid front to back as some of the stronger material is toward the end of the record. “Letting Go” features a groove-oriented riff that drives the momentum forward. A destructive pre-chorus leads into another stunning melody driven chorus by LaBrie.

The bonus track “Why” could be the best song on the record and I am shocked that it was relegated to a bonus track. A driving melodic riff blends with staccato riffing propels the song, but Wildoer in particular destroys on this track. His vocals and progressive drumming are incredible as he integrates blast beats in spots. The chorus again features a melody by LaBrie that is infectious and the pure aggression of the track adds a unique element.

LaBrie’s voice has matured with age and even though he doesn’t have the range he once possessed, I think his voice is stronger for it. Impermanent Resonance is more enjoyable than the last Dream Theater record as the songs are just more memorable. The shorter arrangements work here and LaBrie is the showcase instead of the musicianship and he nails it. Even at fourteen songs and almost an hour, the record never becomes monotonous or gets old, a true testament to the quality of the songwriting.

(Released August 6, 2013 on Inside Out Music)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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