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James LaBrie - Elements Of Persuasion CD (album) cover


James LaBrie


Progressive Metal

3.53 | 145 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Always looking forward with curiosity to all side projects of the members of DREAM THEATER, and especially James Labrie is as busy as a bee (a.o. with FRAMESHIFT and AYREON). There never has been a great unanimity about his vocal qualities, surely live he had some weak performances due to several circumstances, but on his latest solo album (this time released with his own name) he is definitely at his best. And as always he has managed to surround himself by top musicians, Mike Mangini on drums (EXTREME, ANNIHILATOR), Matt Guillory (DALI'S DILEMMA) on keyboards, Bryan Beller (STEVE VAI) on bass and a relatively unknown Italian rock-fusion guitar player Sfogli, who follows Petrucci's track. In a nutshell, on a musical technical way everything is just fine, but the songs are well written too. The cd has some 67 minutes of music, equally spread over 12 tracks. So Labrie does not really follow the same procedure of DREAM THEATER, you won't find any long tracks. But this gives amply the possibility to bring a lot of variation.

The album starts with an acoustic introduction a la DREAM THEATER, next a heavy guitar riff followed by a guitar solo, which reminds me of progressive metal fusion of Italian S&L (a coincidence?). But the pace increases short hereafter and you can hear clearly some METALLICA influences, yet perhaps a bit less heavy than for instance on 'Train of Thoughts'. And from this first track "Crucify" it is obvious that Sfogli is a real guitar virtuoso, you can hear a lot of interesting and original guitar solos.

A lot of special effects an electronic drums are used like on "Alone", a track close to gothic metal bands like EVANESCENCE. And to be clear, this is really a compliment, because very often you will get melodic metal on this album, at the same time technically superb and yet very catchy, not always a common combination. And Labrie you will ask... well he seems perfectly in good voice, as well on the heavier tracks as in the ballads. Because there is also room for softer songs, in the poppy "Smashed" for instance he sings quiet and full of emotion, the catchy 'Lost' is a nice rocker, which would get easily in the charts. But finally most of the songs are based on a heavy progressive metal, you can compare it with the better work of THRESHOLD and naturally also DREAM THEATER. Keyboards are not very dominant but they play a good supporting role, the drummer is very good, although not that overwhelming like Portnoy, but that's not necessary at all. But I was really enchanted by the guitar play of Sfogli, how is it possible this guy is not better known in this music business?

Labrie has delivered one of his best albums so far (perhaps even his best), and full credit has to be given to him, because of his own vocal talent, his choice of musicians, his strong compositions and the variation on the album. And let's be honest, I was not immediately convinced after the first listening of 'Elements of Persuasion', but afterwards there were enough elements to persuade me ;-)

My rating: 9/10

Review by Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem

Clayreon | 4/5 |


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