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James Labrie - Elements Of Persuasion CD (album) cover


James Labrie

Progressive Metal

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5 stars James LaBrie has left his MULLMUZZLER project behind and moved into a new direction. His new band is killer on an awesome new solo album titled "Elements Of Persuasion". If you have enjoyed LaBrie's work with DREAM THEATER, this is a sure bet.

LaBrie is the consummate rock vocalist on the gritty driving opener "Crucify" and the powerful "Freak." He turns in a tasteful performance on the slightly softer rocker "Slightly Out Of Reach." He rocks on all the tracks, just in varying degrees. He goes from head banging growling maniac to a more laid-back approach quickly at times, dependent on the tempo of the song. Being such a versatile and powerful vocalist allows LaBrie to shift his tone and style many times during a song. I have derived great pleasure listening to all of the projects he has been involved with over the years. It is a no brainer why everyone wants him on their albums, his voice is incredible.

James knows how to find the right talent for his music. Marco Sfogli is a real stud on the six- string, in the realm of heavy metal riffs he stands tall. I am sure Sfogli would be as diverse a player as anyone would if the right opportunity presented itself. He does his job-he rocks down the house with authority. Matt Guillory does a nice job keeping the pace and smoothing out the nice edges for the tracks with the ever-changing tempos, he is very talented. Byran Beller (bass) and Mike Mangini (drums) kick the snot out the rhythm section, what a potent force they are. I may be pushing the envelope here, but after listening to this album five or six times, it is probably the next best thing to DREAM THEATER, well, close any way. Oh yes, DT is currently in the studio so LaBrie will back for another round with his full time mates soon.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-

Report this review (#34875)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars We're not talking about cheese here now! Anyone who is even a minor fan of Progressive Metal knows who Dream Theater is and by extension, who James LaBrie is as well. Dream Theater is the numero uno Progressive Metal band in the Universe and James Labrie is their singer.

Elements of Persuasion is a solo album by the prodigious, signature voice of Dream Theater. LaBrie had occasionally ventured out from the confines of his band, such as his side projects like Mullmuzzler and recently as the most prominent guest vocalist on Ayreon's blockbuster new rock opera The Human Equation but this is his first solo album in his name.

The obvious question is, does Elements of Persuasion sound like Dream Theater? The even more obvious answer is in fact another question. Do you want it to sound like Dream Theater? If the answer is yes, then you will find enough Dream Theater to make it a worth while purchase. If the answer is no, then my next question is, what are you doing reading a James LaBrie review?

“Crucify” has a strong DT feel starting out with the acoustic guitar riff from “Change of Seasons”, ultimately deferring to the heavy guitar and bass sound reminiscent of many of the songs from “Train of Thought” though with a bouncier beat.

“Alone” introduces a little electronica and a herky jerky beat. It may appeal to some but not moi.

“Freaks” Is a decent song with a strong rhythm of double bass drums and bass guitar. Again we have a touch of electronica.

“Invisible” is my highest rated song on the album. LaBrie uses his querulous voice, sometimes double tracked and some heavy musical sections to weave through a slightly ominous sounding number.

“Lost” is just a little milder then most of the previous songs. The La Brie vocal is quite mellow and atmospheric, as is the song itself.

“Undecided” starts out pretty cool with a nifty guitar and keyboard sound but it seems to get boring shortly after the beginning.

“Smashed” Is the first and lesser of two ballads. It has a nice piano intro and a pleasant melody that reminds me of Bruce Hornsby. (I’m serious) Overall this is a pretty good ballad but I think “Slightly out of Reach” is better.

“Pretender” is another song that starts out interesting enough but isn’t able to maintain the momentum. It is a medium paced number that I found boring.

“Slightly out of Reach” is my second favorite song. A very nice slightly upbeat ballad. As with the sister ballad there is a strong presence of the accompanying piano.

“Oblivious” This song takes the heaviness of the early songs and mixes in the milder aspects of the latter songs in the choruses.

“In Too Deep” ia a medium paced song with another nifty heavy/atmospheric beginning.

“Drained” Strong song. Heavy instrumentation with La Brie slowly singing the verses which are in turn answered by the keyboard, a nice touch that I haven’t heard before. CONCLUSION

I guess you could say that Elements of Persuasion is truly a solo album since none of the accompanying musicians are from Dream Theater and yet there is that unmistakable DT flavor permeating most of the album.

In my opinion Elements of Persuasion is not a great album, in fact it’s barely a very good album but it does have it’s moments. Except for a couple pretty nice ballads, many of the songs, such as “Invisible“, feature heavy bass playing, reminiscent of DT’s latest release Train of Thought. some of the songs start well but seem to lose their way. While there are a few of pretty good to great songs here, I must admit there isn’t any that I couldn’t live without but I’m afraid that it’s close enough that you shouldn’t take my word for it. You need to make your own decision.

My final rating - Four Stars

Report this review (#34876)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#34879)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great progressive metal album, combining some great vocals, along with some amazing guitar work from a new virtuoso, Marco Sfogli. The John Petrucci influense is evident, hense his Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Signature Guitar he owns. Mike Mangini on drums is always fun to hear . . . that man can play with the best of them. There is just enough progressive influence to the music, to make it really soar.

Some people say that James' voice is "pop-like" or "girly". I would love to hear some of the pop artists hit some of James' notes without going falsetto, but then be able to hit those great screams, and low toned lines. I think this album shows that he is still out there ready to belt it out. He obviously can't song like in the old days of "Images and Words" and "Awake", but that is expected. His voice seems to adapt to the music very well, always sounding great.

So, I don't know why anyone would give this a zero, at least a fan of porgressive metal/rock. It is obvious that someone who listens to "In Flames" or "Children of Bodom" (nothing against them at all . . . both great bands) won't like James' voice. They are two contrasting styles. But fans of Dream Theater, and the progressive rock empire they helped build will definitely like this album. I can't wait to hear some more work from Marco Sfogli . . . he is definitely on the rise to stardom.

The only beef I have with this CD is the fact that most of the songs tend to revolve around the low "b" note. When bands use this a lot, the riffs sound a little repetative, and start to sound alike. A little more depth in the riffs would have made this album a bit better, and also more progressive. But, Definitely a 4 out of 5.

Report this review (#34881)
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rikard OBVIOUSLY doesn't know what he's talking about!

...Either that, or we bought this CD and got the wrong CD completely because James LaBrie shows he can truly shine as a soloist with Elements of Persuasion!

James LaBrie, noted for his work with Dream Theater, and has appeared on albums by Ayreon and Shadow Gallery, HAS worked on his own before with Mullmuzzler, but none of his solo work even compares to the mastery on Elements of Persuasion!

The line-up is impressive with Bassist Brian Beller (worked with Steve Vai), Drums by Mike Mangini (Extreme and Annihilator), Matt Guillory (Dali's Dilemma) on Keys and newcomer Marco Sfogli on guitar. Sfogli shows his Petrucci influence by using a Petrucci Signature guitar and he truly does near enough rival the skill of Petrucci on this album.

The CD begins with "Crucify", a song which has a DT feel to it, and almost sounds like The Glass Prison all over again. You can tell from the beginning that the CD won't be like DT, as the song progresses and gets heavier. LaBrie's lyrics kick in deep, when he hits the chorus he shows his true colours! Truly an awesome track.

Track two is "Alone", which a few of my friends and I think starts with a kind of Linkin Park sound, but gets heavier again, as it progresses. Again, the lyrics are immaculate and the song as a whole is breathtaking.

The third track is "Freak", and this track is my second favourite on the album. In this track especially, Sfogli shows some guitar-work to show he's a force to be reckoned with, and I instantly fell in love with the lyrics of this song, pulled off amazingly by LaBrie!

Track four is "Invisible", and isn't my favourite on the CD but still a good track, the guitar work reminds me very vaguely of Stream of Consciousness, mixed with In The Name of God. The vocal work by LaBrie is good, but weak at points in this track.

The fifth track is "Lost". The song is a lot mellower than the previous tracks and the lyrics are very atmospheric, and it all mixes together to make a decent track!

Track six is "Undecided", which is my third favourite track on the CD. It starts out awesome with a Guitar and Keyboard intro, then LaBrie's voice kicks in and the track lifts off. Truly great!

"Smashed" is the first ballad of the album and track seven. It's a very pleasant sounding track and LaBrie sings in ballads well. The piano work and guitar work is amazing in this song. Good ballad, but "Slightly Out of Reach" is a better ballad.

"Pretender" is track eight, and my favourite track. Contrary to the previous reviews I believe this song is very uplifting and paced. The lyrics are amazing and LaBrie sings them well. The music in this song is very captivating as well. Amazing track!

"Slightly Out of Reach" is track nine and a truly pleasant sounding ballad, drumwork fits extremely well with the rest of the song and the lyrics and singing by LaBrie are again awesome.

"Oblivious" is track ten. The track is milder than the other songs on the album, but still strong in its own right!

"In Too Deep" starts with keys which sound vaguely like Misunderstood. Heavier than said song though, really an interesting song though. Quite atmospheric. Good nonetheless!

"Drained" is the final track of the album and is a really strong track, with really interesting music. The vocals seem to be answered by the keys, which is something I've never heard before. It's a great track! Perfect for closing an album!

In conclusion, this album is a definite must for fans of Dream Theater, especially fans of the Train of Thought album. The album really is something to keep us DT fans satisfied until Octavarium this June. I, for one, can't wait! Sfogli definitely is a name I will keep a watch for!

Worth every penny, and definitely worth the 4 Star Rating!

Report this review (#34884)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have to say I used to like DT's albums, but honestly I prefer the solo efforts and side projects of either JORDAN RUDESS or DEREK SHERINIAN and I never liked DT because of the vocals. LaBrie's voice is just okay with DT, but they would be even better with a singer like the one of METALLICA. But coming back to this solo effort here of Mr. LaBrie, IMHO this is just a cheap trial to gather more fans around him amongst young people, at many points, especially by the scratch elements it reminds so clearly to some Nu-Metal stuff. For me it's just simply modern hardrock or Metal with a concept behind and some bad synths added up to make it look like progressive metal. I just don't like it and I think it's the worst stuff any DT member has ever released!
Report this review (#34885)
Posted Saturday, May 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first time I see this album at Aquarius Pondok Indah, a local CD store in Jakarta, I put a high expectation on it. But after the first spin, a curious thought comes in mind. I don't understand why LaBrie creates an album which has similarity to Dream Theater's "Train of Thought". No, not that I said this is a bad album. "Elements of Persuasion" is a great album and also very heavy. Lots of heavy guitar riffs (Sadly, it is too Petrucci-ish. But Marco Sfogli is the future guitar hero, anyway! - he's 17 now) and blastering thunders of drum. There are also a couple of slower songs, which are nice, indeed. But still, I don't impressed very much with this album. His Mullmuzzler projects and his role in Frameshift's "Unweaving The Rainbow" are much much more interesting. If you are looking for "the extension of" DT album, you'll find it here. If you miss LaBrie's style in Frameshift or Ayreon, this album absolutely is not your cup of tea. You can figure it out by yourself.

Jakarta, 25th May 2005.

Report this review (#34886)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The cd is good. Great production, great musicians, maybe it isn't a straight up prog cd but nonetheless, a great spin. Some say it's terrible, that Labrie is trying to cater to the new metal crowd (!) and that Hetfield would be a better singer for the project (again, !). Oh my gosh, how could someone say that. Anyway, just because something is greatly produced, it is not new metal, alright? Besides, new metal is alive and thriving because, guess what, they have an audience, like prog obviously does. If not, YOU wouldn't be here, posting and stuff. To recap I liked the first two solo efforts from Labrie, I love this one the best because it caters to my 'heavy-riffage' addiction. I paid for the cd, it satisfies my musical need, everybody's happy!
Report this review (#34887)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah yes, James Labrie. I wish I could sing like him. But alas all I can do is support him so he can make more albums like this.

I'm an avid Dream Theater fan, and the new album simply rocks. However, I mistook a song off of THIS album for the new Dream Theater album and my immediate reaction was "This isn't what Dream Theater is about". So that's the first thing. It's not a Dream Theater clone by any means.

In all honesty, James Labrie succedes where Linkin Park failed horribly. Take Linkin Park and keep the catchy melodies intact. Add a better vocalist, less cheesy lyrics, and fancier guitar work and you have Elements of Persuasion.

Report this review (#36369)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album just does not belong to this site. I like James LaBrie performing amongst Dream Theater virtuosos, and there his vocal seems to fit in alright; his Mullmuzzler project is also quite good, but this solo allbum is just not prog whatsoever. This is terrible mixture of thresh-metal with pop. The opener is a rip-off from Metallica and then it goes even worse. It goes from brainless metal to soulless pop and vise versa. No offense meant to any thresh metal fans nor to pop fans - I know a lot of people liking these genres and I know myself how good can metal or pop be occasionally, but normally pop followers would not listen to metal and vise versa, therefore I cannot recomend "elements" to either of them. Apart from above I feel it a bit insulting that a musician of LaBrie's scale makes such a release, the only reason for which is to get more money out of his devoted fans - therefore my rating here is "0" stars.
Report this review (#36490)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars WOW! Now, granted I might be a bit bias because I am both a diehard James LaBrie fan and I work with Inside Out music, but wow. When I got this album a month and a half before it hit the stores, it had hourly radio play at our station. Even the DJ's who are not into prog, metal, rock, etc. played it. Is it a masterpiece? No, of course not. That title is reserved for maybe a dozen albums. But this is a wounderful peice of music. James delivers another outstanding preformance, maybe his best since Scenes From a Memory, well, The Human Equation is close.

Anyway, the veriety and structure to the album are top knotch as well as the playing and preformance of all members. I honestly can't get enough of it.

Report this review (#36928)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't understand the people who gave one star for this album. They say it's not progressive enough and crap like that, but who cares? Why do you want to stereotype everything, why compare this album to DT? Sure it has similarities, James LaBrie likes the style of DT - he's the singer - so it is natural that he writes stuff that is similar to that. What I really like on this album are the well-written songs, edible song structures, catchy vocal lines, standout guitar playing, rock solid rhythm section and a modern feel.

I wouldn't say it's progressive in a sense of song structure, but it's progressive in a sense of sound and feel. But who gives a [%*!#] about progressive or not, it's just a great record with great songs performed by great musicians, with lots of musical information on it (it's worth studying). It's good to listen to it, I'd say I like it more than DT. Four stars!!!!!!! Time will tell whether it's essential or not...

Report this review (#37809)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Why is this a three-star album? Because it's not really prog. On its own merits, Elements of Persuasion is a solid four star effor. It should only be downgraded if you're so fanatical about being a fan of prog rock that you won't stomach anything that doesn't fit into that narrow band of the spectrum.

But this is a prog site, and by the star rating prompts, "good, but non-essential" sums this one up form a prog perspective.

LaBrie absolutely kicks ass as a vocalist, particularly as a studio vocalist, and EoP features his abilities well. There's a lot less emphasis on instrumental virtuosity than in Dream Theater, naturally, but there's still a lot of meat there still. It's consistently heavy, yes, but for the love of crap, people, anything heavy done by a member of DT != Train of Thought!

Just get the album, dammit.

Report this review (#40066)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This seems to be a very controversial album- (hey- go figure- a dude from Dresm Theater getting controversy) I think this album is very enjoyable to listen to. I REALLY enjoy the lyrics (esp the last track) and the music is crunchy and heavy. Its good for a nice head bang or two. The guitarist is pretty sweet- very talented and smooth. I just think its a fun album- with every song having a nice quality- no 'fill' songs or anything. Great pick up- but maybe not for everyone. If you dog Labrie- get it!
Report this review (#40193)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It´s a very nice Album, James take´s some elements of Dream Theater and Apply them to this work. The progressive is principal element of James and all his work, since Mullmuzzler until Elements of Persuasion. See U, COLOMBIA PROGRESSIVE
Report this review (#40194)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Best thing he has done, rich melodic while still heavy enough for me. if progressive rock is about moving outward to newer thing then this is a great step in the right directions. Thankfully its not DT, Yawn! but it certanly has a lot in commonm it is not a rigidly structured as DT albums and also avoids the long over indulgent mega tracks.

Certainly more commenrcial but with a healthy composure, shows James able to do his own thing very well.

Report this review (#40313)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars DREAM THEATER vocalist JAMES LaBRIE's solo album is certainly a very interesting departure from his work with the band, and as such, will probably appeal to a select group of listeners rather than the prog world as a whole. This is not prog-metal by any stretch of the imagination--rather, it is a mainstream metal album, and that is why I took away the first star. Aside from LaBRIE's experimentation with his voice outside the realm of DREAM THEATER, there is nothing I'd consider progressive or experimental about Elements of Persuasion. If you are a fan of metal outside of the prog world, or a highly dedicated fan of LaBRIE, you'll want to add this to your collection as a sort of companion album to DT's Train of Thought. If not, then you should probably skip on to the next review.

The best way to describe the overall feel of the music is mainstream metal with some stronger soft ballads, with a techno-like influence from keyboardist MATT GUILLORY, who brings in patches and acoustic piano work that for some reason give me a "New York" vibe. GUILLORY is also responsible for the awesome production of the album--those who were irritated with the mixing troubles on Octavarium will give a sigh of relief on hearing the immersive, crystal-clear production of Elements of Persuasion. (Credit also belongs to RICHARD CHYCKI, who did the mixing.) In fact, this is part of what gives the album a solid three stars; even with the parts of it that get on my nerves, never once can I fault the actual sound of the music.

By far, Elements of Persuasion is strongest in its softest moments. "Smashed", which I have heard may be about the war in the former Yugoslavia (not 9-11 as some believed--that was LaBRIE's "Sacrificed Sons" on Octavarium) is touching to hear with its delicate piano and incredibly soft, gentle vocals that with the mixing on this album almost feel as if they're sung within five feet of you or less. "Lost" is another ballad, which is quite beautiful with its bass work. "Slightly Out of Reach" is the last entirely soft song, and is the other real standout track. Other tracks, during their soft sections, stand out like the middle section of "Alone" with its strangely soothing humming, and the end of "In Too Deep". OK...maybe I'm a complete sap, but LaBRIE does do quite the impression of trying to fight back tears.

Certainly some of the harder moments, like "Freak" and the closing track, "Drained", are enjoyable, as well as some of the others--from a musical standpoint, including the sound of the vocals. LaBRIE experiments with some vocal effects that I can't recall hearing on any DREAM THEATER albums, and as always, even when the material he's working with may be on the weak side, his voice is not the weak link. However...this album does have one very big weak link--it's the lyrics. I've seen LaBRIE do better, more effective work, such as Octavarium's "Sacrificed Sons". Aside from "Smashed", however, I find myself unmoved by the lyrics of Elements of Persuasion and tune them out. They're for the most part angry, depressing, and just not that well written--and that's the reason the album loses another half-star. The other loss comes from a particular, personal objection to one of the lyrics. I recognize others may not feel this way...but I am not going to lie about my feelings, because they may be relevant to some.

While some more familiar with LaBRIE and his work have tried to assure me that he harbors no hatred against Christians or the religious...I can't help but feel that "Pretender" sabotages any efforts he may make to maintain that image. "Undecided" goes into similar territory, though nowhere near as nasty. Even if it's just extremists he wanted to target, the lyrics to that song come off as so vindictive and hateful against all who believe that I simply cannot stand to hear them, and I would advise those listeners who care about that to research the lyrics beforehand and make a decision on what they do and don't want to hear. Some may not mind, others may want to just skip the song as I do (I have never actually listened to it--I didn't want to once I got a look at the lyrics booklet), and some may want to skip the album as a result. I want to make it clear--this is not a personal attack against LaBRIE. I think he's probably not the nasty sort of person this set of lyrics makes him seem to be...most likely he's just so ill-equipped to express himself lyrically on this subject that he comes off more extreme than he is. Still-- NOT my cup of tea and I think Christians (or other sincerely religious) ought to take heed.

I have tried to be as fair to this album as I can in light of the above paragraph, and I still think it merits three stars: good for certain audiences...but certainly not for all.

Report this review (#40891)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you are a musician (especially a guitarist) or just a fan of great and well produced hard rock and progressive metal, then you will probably love this disk after a few listens. The guitarist plays some beautifully powerful and melodic riffs, the drummer sounds like he really loves what he does and has fun with percussions, and James does a nice job on the vocals. The production value is amazing and the disk just sounds fantastic. The bassist also does a nice job. I was not crazy about the keyboards - they are definitely understated compared to Dream Theater's Images and Words, Six Degrees, Scenes from a Memory, and various tracks with lots of keyboards.

Yes - the disk is not as progressive as some may want. However, really great and powerful heavy metal has all but disappeared from the music scene. I applaud this album's effort to appeal to people who appreciate solid hard rock and progressive music. It is fun to turn up this up loud and appreciate it for what it is, a great heavy metal disk.

Report this review (#45080)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Im happy and sad that this album came up...

Happy Cause This Album is one of the best things that went into my ears and Refreshed them.... James LaBrie has surely outdone himself in that album...even far better than he is in the Dream-Theater albums...Course he's goin Solo...

Sad Cause..i just wish that he keeps that voice for further Dream-Theater Albums... i mean.....i was hoping that this would be labeled "Dream-Theater" cause i personally kinda think of them more as a team instead of being solo...

Overall...Nice Stories...Mixed With Agressive (Quite Repetitive tho...but still gr8) riffs........Nice Drum Bashing (although i miss Portnoy....but its almost like never knowing the difference btween the actual drummer and Mike) Kickass (A La Petrucci) Solos....and Groundbreaking bass....and of course...James LaBrie's Voice....All ended up to be one of the gr8est concoctions ever made...

Hoping that one day....a work like that would actually be labeled Dream-Theater (Cause im hearing that they're taking a lot of sucky reviews from people which makes me sad and breaks my heart cause D-T Litterally Saved my Life at some point in time...and they are also among my top-3 bands ever ^_^) Thank You James For this Gr8 Music....You Rock Man!!! \m/ You Guys are the Best...Keep Your Heads Up!!!! i trust you all

And if that msg actually gets to u someday....hear this....COME TO BEIRUT!!!! I'LL BE WAITING!!!! :P

Report this review (#50648)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Anyone reading this review already knows how Labrie is and who Dream Theater are, so I won't go into that detail. When I did see DT live for the first time in '93, it was at a race track in Springfield, Mass on a not summer night (92F at midnight!). He sang as if he had no amplification, screaming as loud as he could. He sounded pretty bad as his voice kept breaking up (not the amplification's fault either). I've seen DT many times over the years and while his skills as a live singer has improved, he still forgets from time to time to let the PA do the work, and not "over sing" the parts.

So it was not without a bit of apprehension that I picked up this disc on an assured recommendation. I would not classify this as a progressive metal album just because Labrie comes from a genre defining band. This is pretty much a straight forward metal album that is on the artistic side of the equation. As an enormous fan of Anthrax, Megadeth and early Metallica, I have absolutely no problems with heavy metal music. In fact, it is one of my most favorite genre's of music. To that end, I find this album very satisfying. And within the context of artisticly styled heavy metal, Labrie's singing style fits very well. He's actually kind of subdued on this release keeping is vocal range well within his natural limits.

Would I recommend this album to pure prog-heads? No, it isn't really a prog metal album. It's more artsy than proggy. Would I recommend this album to DT fans? Well, if you liked Train of Thought, you'll like this. It's very similar in heavyness, just lacks the long instrumental sections. Would I recommend this album to heavy metal fans? Yes, most certainly. As a metal-head myself, I find this recording heavy, crunchy, tasteful, and very well mixed (good audiophile recording). Sounds like an advertisement for Rocky Road ice cream, eh?

Report this review (#60339)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an excellent album. I believe it is worth 4 stars at least, if not 5. I give it 5 to offset some of the ridiculous one star ratings. I can see someone having different tastes, or not liking this album for some reason, but anyone who gives it one or even two stars, in my opinion, is insulting his own intelligence. It is one thing to not like an album, it is another thing to dismiss an unbelievable album as if it were the next Blink 182 si ngle. This album has musicianship that you will not find anywhere, and out of 12 songs has very few weak songs, and several phenomenal ones. It sounds a lot like DT to me, but in some ways I like it even better, though I will always be a DT fan. Give it a listen.
Report this review (#66723)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Original, musical, progressive, metal, and not what I expected.

James LaBrie's solo album Elements of Persuasian may catch most fans by suprise. I myself was expecting this album to have much more of Dream Theater ballad style to it, but it's much more of a mix with a touch of creativity.

The vocals definately take prominence on this album. James LaBrie shows his undisputable vocal talent on this album. This is definately one of his best performances to date rivaling his earlier Dream Theater works, Images and Words and Awake. LaBrie showcases both powerful metal vocal work complimented by soft melodic singing. LaBrie doesn't sing a certain style, but sings a style that best fits the song.

Marco Sfolgi really suprised me with his work on this album. I have never heard of this guitarist before and right with the first track of the album, he shows he has amazing riffing skills with an amazing ability to shread compllimented by soft acousic rythymn playing. Sflogi is a guitarist which the progressive metal community should love to hear more from.

Matt Guillory does an amazing job on keys as he usually does with all other of his performances (Zero Hour, Mullmuzzler). Guillory combines his great original synth tones with excellent technique.

Bryan Beller isn't showcased too much on the album, but when he gets his catch he can rip. Most of the time he's laying down grooving bass lines, but he also shows off great chops when he gets the chance. It would have been great if there were more oppurtunies to hear some great bass melodies on this album. The guy certainly had the technique to do so.

The drums are not a highlight of the album, but there are some skillfull fills here an there. Overall they play a supporting role. Like Belller, Mike Mangini shows he has great chops, but doesn't get the chance to show them.

A great album, an original and creative four star effort from Mr. LaBrie.

Report this review (#69286)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've had this CD for a couple years now, and in that time I've decided that it's safe to say that this is a very good album, featuring some wonderful tracks. Originally, I bought this only for LaBrie's vocals, and even then I was skeptical of whether I'd like it. The 30 second audio clips I heard on the internet didn't really wow me, and I even thought that James was making a mistake by bringing in an entirely new lineup to perform on the album. It seemed like a very risky move in comparison to the not-very- unlike-Dream Theater Liquid Tension Experiment albums on which 3 of the 4 members are from Dream Theater. However, the musicians LaBrie recruited for this project are astounding. Marco Sfgoli absolutely blew me away the first time I put this disc in, and Matt Guillory provides nice keyboard work on top of that. Mike Mangini I had already heard of and knew he was an excellent drummer, but the other three memebers totally wowed me.

And let me not forget LaBrie. After the underwhelming Train of Thought and Live at Budokan releases, I thought James was never going to recover from his going on 10 year old vocal chord injury. However, I have total confidence in saying that James' vocals on Elements of Persuasion are the best he's done since Awake. Still not perfect, but definitely in the same league as Images and Words and Awake. A lot of this has to do with the songwriting as well. Although James' vocal injury definitely hampered him, I believe that part of the reason why he never sounded as good after Awake is because Dream Theater took over the vocal melody writing process. The reason I think this is because the vocal melodies here sound so much more like the ones on Images and Words and Awake than any of Dream Theater's records after those. The melodies are generally higher and in the range where I believe James thrives the most. Examples of this range are found in the chorus of Pretender and the second verse of In Too Deep, though not exclusively. Getting back on topic, James sounds very good on this album overall, both in upper and lower range and in powerful and soft vocals. Overall, if the first half of the album were stronger, this would be a five star album for sure. As much as I'd like to give it five stars, I just can't bring myself to do that. It just doesn't have quite enough to get over that hurdle.

The albums begins with Crucify, which used to be my favorite song, but now I find it a bit repetitive and the original catchyness is gone. It is still a pretty good song though, with a nice heavy mood and nice tempo changes that make for a good opener. Nice chorus vocals although a little on the shrieky end. Great drumming during the little interlude/break as well. Decent guitar solo although nothing near Sfgoli's best on the album. 8/10

Alone is a song that gets a lot of scrutiny from the "prog is holier than thou" purebloods due to its "Linkin' Park"-like style. While I do agree that the turntable scratches are kind of unnecessary and annoying, the rest of the song is very good, and it is one of my favorites. The guitar soloing in the middle of the song is definitely the highlight here though, although the vocal melody is pretty nice as well. Great drumming once again. 9/10

Freaks is a nice heavy piece, reminiscent of a Train of Thought song only with lots of keyboard programming throughout and no growl on the vocals. A decent track but not as good as the first two. 7/10

Invisible is another slower more heavy song. The same style as Freaks sort of, but better written. Keyboards show off with more programming and some backing chords as well. As the album goes on, the keyboards become more and more prominent, which is a very good thing because Guillory has quite a knack for them. 8/10

Lost is a short but interesting song. The softer and lighter feel is a nice contrast to the last two songs' doomy heavyness. Piano is the focal point on this song, but the vocals, keyboard chords, and ethereal guitar part fill in the space for a very nice mood. One of the albums' best songs. 10/10

Undecided is sort of like Korn meets Usher in the beginning, but then it changes into Korn meets James LaBrie, which is sort of odd to say the least. The vocal line is pretty good, but the lyrics are controvertial and the music doesn't do much to help things. Overall a repetitive song with some good moments. The end of the song makes up for the weak beginning. 6/10

Smashed is the next ballad of the album, featuring piano, keyboard chords, and soft vocals much like Lost. The big difference here is the slow tempo and inventive drum work. Very nice verse and chorus, and the blusey piano moments are simply great. The song sort of climaxes in the middle, although never really wanders away from the slow moody style. One of the album's highlights for sure. 10/10

Pretender takes the slow tempo from Smashed and supercharges it. Sfgoli gets back in the groove here, performing great guitar work both in the verses and in a superb solo. The verse melody might be found annoying by some, but I personally really like it. You'll have to make the call yourself on this one. Vocal melody after the guitar solo is great. Another great song and a highlight of the album for sure. 10/10

Slightly Out of Reach is the best ballad on the album and quite possibly the best song as well. Where Smashed gets a little long-winded with the same idea, Slightly Out of Reach keeps everything interesting, contrasting soft and strong vocals along with piano and guitar. This song also has one of the best if not the best guitar solos of the entire album. Teriffic piece here. 10/10

Oblivious is pretty much a Korn song in the beginning, in fact some Korn fans I've shown the song to have even said that the riff is almost identical to an actual Korn riff. However, after the Korn-like intro, the song gets more back in line with the rest of the album's style. Piano work is found once again here, but this time in the company of heavy distortion guitar, creating a very interesting mood. LaBrie's melody enters a sort of rap-ish stage at times, much in the same vein as the rap-ish snippet in Honor Thy Father on Dream Theater's Train of Thought album. I prefer the Honor Thy Father version over this one, but the one here isn't too shabby (I actually really like the rap-ish part in Honor Thy Father). Great guitar soloing is found here once again. Although starting out rough, this song is actually very good. 8/10

In Too Deep is a very haunting and heavy piece. The second verse in which James takes the verse melody up and octave gives me chills still to this day. Probably the best song vocally on the album. Tempo changes and fluctuations in intensity are great here. LaBrie also shows off the range that should've been back in Dream Theater albums a long time ago. The middle section of the song in which James sort of rhythmically speaks the lyrics is the low point of the song, and then the end of the song as a nice little softer and almost blusey feel, although very haunting at the same time. Great piano work really makes the end, although credit must also be given to the soulful guitar playing. 10/10

Drained ends the album with a bang. If Slightly Out of Reach isn't the best song, this one has to be. It has the complete package: soft to heavy contrasts throughout, fantastic melody, energetic tempo, thought-provoking lyrics, great performances by every musician, and a fabulous piano and vocal break in the middle preluding a fantastic guitar solo. With a powerful finish to the song, Elements of Persuasion is complete. 10/10

Report this review (#123912)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars A logical and worthy purchase for fans of DT, featuring James in an exciting context outside the band singing smartly written and produced material. "Elements of Persuasion" is as good, if not better than several DT albums, and most importantly gives the iconic singer much more room to experiment with his voice sans the sometimes instrumental baggage of Portnoy and Perturcci; however, that also means that the dynamic compositions found in DT music is all but absent here, and the songs are very much metal without many progressive elements.

But, who buys a singer's solo album if they don't want to hear him sing, right? Well, you won't be disappointed, but I have a hard time imagining those from outside Jame's fan-base finding much to enjoy here; it's very much heavy-metal without much instrumental variety, but will easily please we fans of Jame's iconic voice.

Songwriting 2 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 3 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Report this review (#132100)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I will be very short on my review here. Im not a big fan of of LaBrie on DT, so, i'm not a big fan of James LaBrie solo eithre. I like his voice but there are some pieces on this album that really make me climb the walls of my room and jump, example are: the opening track Crucify, absolute awful track, not real metal, not prog, the worst piece from here and Alone, again mediocre, the rest is near 3 stars. I always think that members from present or past DT were unable to make solid music by their own, as solo musicians. That happend to Petrucci - Suspended, this one, Rudess solo music is key noodleing , Sherinian aswel , etc. So, LaBrie is no exception. Maybe the best tracks from here are the slow one Lost and Pretender. Hardly 3 stars, and only for couple of songs that are stronger then the rest together, and of course for the voice wich sometimes is realy good and emotional.
Report this review (#143701)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This solo album by Dream Theater's lead vocalist, James LaBrie, showcases the impact of being a vocalist of a band and the kind of music that he performs with his own solo album. In fact, the influence is so significant, it's probably 60% to 70% of Dream Theater sounds and styles can be found here in this album. The good thing is that all of musicians that back up this solo album have never been in Dream Theater before. I can only say that Matt Guillory (keyboards & piano), Marco Sfogli (rhythm & lead guitar), Bryan Beller (bass), and Mike Mangini (drums) have in a way adored the music of Dream Theater because their playing are heavily influenced by DT. That's fine with me because basically I like Dream Theater progressive metal music.

This can be observed through the opening track "Crucify" (6:03) which I belive it's very Dream Theater in style especially the guitar riffs and solos. Oh yeah .. of course James LabRie singing style is very Dream Theater. Let's put it this way: if "Crucify" was included in Train of Thought or Systematic Chaos album, it would not create any question from the fans about this song being different from other tracks in the respective album.

But.. is it really very Dream Theater in style?

Well .. try the second track "Alone" (5:36) which I believe you would agree with me that Dream Theater would not ever explore their music into the boundary of this track. At least, I don't think this kind of music is in their vocabulary. What makes this song different from any Dream Theater music is the use of guitar loops and industrial nuance. This is really my favorite track from this album. It starts with an ambient nuance followed with guitar riffs resulted from a sample or loop plus some effects. It's really cool and I do enjoy it very much. The music flows beautifully in symphonic progressive metal style while the guitar loops / effects still appear nicely in unexpected segments. What make sthe song is so wonderful (masterpiece!) for me is its great combination of melody, inventive riffs in loop, symphonic nuance, attractive beats and great transition pieces. This might not be the case for you because those of you who adore legendary prog bands might not like the idea of putting riffs with loop.

"Freak" (5:38) intro has heavy riffs with some ambient sound effects, stunning guitar solo and keyboard work. "Invisible" (5:42) is another excellent track followed with "Lost" (3:41) which has different style as it has piano work that is different with any DT song. The rhythm section of this song is excellent especially with some kind of new age music in style. "Undecided" (5:30) is a keyboard-based rhythm section music augmented by raw guitar work. The vocal quality of James LaBrie is very unique and the song flows wonderfully from opening part into chorus and end of the track. The chorus really reminds me to Dream Theater music. The guitar riffs / rhythm section is nice and unique. "Smashed" (5:31) piano / keyboard work reminds me to "Space Dye Fest" song. It's another excellent track.

"Pretender" (5:36) is a heavy rocker with fast tempo and high register notes vocal line. " Slightly Out Of Reach" (5:31) gives break with silent opening part followed with James' low register notes vocal line. "Oblivious" (5:20) brings the music back to heavy rhythm section with raw guitar riffs. "In Too Deep" (6:56) is another heavy track with good composition. The concluding track "Drained" (5:14) starts ambient followed with music with full blast overlaid by vocal. This track is really masterpiece! The drumming is powerful.

Overall, I am satisfied with this solo album by James LaBrie. This album proves to me that James is actually not just a seasoned lead vocal of great progressive metal band but also he is an excellent solo musician. This album is heavily influenced by Dream Theater even though the music is not as complex as Dream Theater. One thing that I salute this album is the musicianship of all players. The guitar solo is stunning, the keyboard work is inventive and the drum is very dynamic while bass is also excellent. So, I consider this as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. It's a must for Dream Theater fans. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#157216)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars James LaBrie - 'Elements of Persuasion' 3.5 stars

This is better than the two most recent Dream Theater albums 'Octavarium' and 'Systematic Chaos'.

Now why would I compare this solo project to his main band Dream Theater? Well, that is because there is a stark amount of similarities between the two projects. The heavy parts on this album and the guitar solos are near trademark Dream Theater nuances. The exception here is that James LaBrie has some changes in mood and the songs are more tightly composed with little openness for technical wankery. James LaBrie is also credited to the music on every track. I have proposed this a few times and will resurrect my question again. Why won't Dream Theater include him in the writing process when they are starting to become a really stale band?

The only downfall to the album is some of the songs themselves. It clocks in at around 66 minutes. With 3 or 4 songs cut from the album this could have been a nice gem of prog-metal, but instead just a really good one in my collection. A lot of the songs on here can be somewhat like 'metal hits' with some catchy choruses and riffs throughout. James LaBrie also taps into some unexpected influences such as electronica, blues and jazz. I think the man has a passion for many difference genres of music.

This album has a lot of good songs on it and some lackluster ones as well. For some 'Train of Thought' era Dream Theater minus noodling and a more pop/metal approach, this is a worth addition. 3 and a half stars is the verdict.

Report this review (#174007)
Posted Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would put it simply: the best metal album from this millenium so far...

Yes, a metal album, heavily mainstream orientated, but what's the matter with that? Labrie came with a suprisse to us fans. Is like a complete new Dream Theater, the freshness of the playing, the performing and the compossing, without the extended solos and without that "Trying too hard" from the DT guys doing the fastest, thoughest, greatest... well... I'm very satisfied and I really recomend this album especially to the old-school fans from DT. I know many of them miss that freshness and hate the heavyness, sometimes too much selfindulgent from their latter works... but, heck, I want to talk of this album, not of DT... but is unavoidable the comparisson. Sorry...

The album is very singable. And the instrumentation is great. The quality is there for sure. Of course if you don't like Labries voice you have nothing to do here... you see... is a JAMES LABRIE album. So, what do you expect...? but seriously, there are great songs here, many highlights, just depend on your own taste but sure there's diversity in this album and that's why I love it from start to finish.

The heavy songs are really heavy with great mood and the riffs are quite agressive and sticky at the same time... the melodies are very well constructed and Labrie manages to put emotion in every song. Then, the soft songs, are very creative and not just another ballad... they try an interesting way to put out some ballads with good arrangements and no fillers.

There are good solos, excelent mood, interesting performance and great music to sing and to feel... yes... I haven't heard a better album than this in the last 5 years... give it a try... I would say is a better album even than the last 4 albums from Dream Theater... and that's too much coming from a die-hard fan of the prog metal masters...

Report this review (#240751)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I think i've mentioned this before but James LaBrie grew up about a half an hour's drive from where I grew up and presently live. In high school he was known as Kevin LaBrie and I have a few friends who knew him back then. He's 2 years younger than me. Penetanguishene where he grew up and where I was born is a predominantly French community with most of the signs being in French only. A little history I guess you could say. LaBrie's vocals seem to really divide fans in a big way, i've always liked them but I must admit there are certain times when I don't. This is his first solo album although his MULLMUZZLER project is pretty much his solo work too, in fact it's the same band other than the lead guitarist. The songs on this album average about 5 1/2 minutes and i'd say it's heavier than the average DREAM THEATER album but not as proggy.

Man I have to whole-heartily agree with b olariu about this first track "Crucify". It's awful. I don't understand first of all why it's on here at all but especially why they start off with it. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. I understand this is a concept album which is i'm sure the simple explanation as to why he started off with it but... Anyway his vocals sound really bad here for some reason. I like the way the song starts off nice and heavy with the guitar over top but the rest is not my scene. "Aone" is better especially the vocals. Some interesting sounds on this one. "Freaks" starts off great then it gets really heavy. It settles then stays fairly heavy when the vocals arrive. "Invisible" opens with synths followed by heaviness. It settles with vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Contrasts continue.

"Lost" has these sampled voices that come and go throughout. It really feels like a song inspired by Kevin Moore. I like it. "Undecided" is back to the heaviness. Guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Smashed" opens with drums and piano. Fragile vocals follow in this ballad-like tune. Not a fan. "Pretender" is heavy with vocals. I like the guitar 3 minutes in. "Slightly Out Of Reach" features soft vocals with keys and a beat. It does get fuller but i'm not a fan. "Oblivious" opens with some low end guitar followed by heavy riffs as vocals join in. Good song. "In Too Deep" has a really good intro although the rest isn't that great. Keys and lazy guitar end it. "Drained" is heavy although it turns ballad-like 3 1/2 minutes in before kicking back in with some ripping guitar.

Overall a good album but a little too inconsistant for my particular tastes. I think most DREAM THEATER fans will like this one a lot though.

Report this review (#282707)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Slightly out of touch

James Labrie's solo effort began in the late 90s with his project/side band Mullmuzzler. The band released two official albums, one in 1999 and one in 2001. Labrie then took a break from the solo field, before coming back in 2005 with an entirely solo (with his name on the cover) album, Elements of Persuasion. The album was released shortly before Octavarium, and the album actually leaked onto Limewire prior to its release, and many mistook the album for Octavarium. The album, while sharing the same singer, has a starkly different and significantly darker feel than Labrie's home band Dream Theater. Although the progressive metal aspect of the album is shared between the band, Labrie's solo project is much more electronic, thrashy, and by leaps and bounds more heavy than Dream Theater. Laden with near metalcore breakdowns and near thrash metal riffs and blast beats as well as mellow ballad like tracks to contrast these, the album is a high stakes, non-stop album, full of energy and fury as Labrie and his band (which included future Dream Theater drummer Mike Magini) crafted a rather interesting, if not just a bit generic, album.

One thing that really hit me while listening to this album was the heavy accessibility Labrie is obviously striving for on this album. The odd electro beats that open many of the songs, the synthesized atmospheres encasing many of the songs, and much more of the electronic aspects of the album also add to this odd popularly leaning feel of the album. Whether this adds or detracts from the album, I still can't decide after listening to the album for a number of years now. It's obvious that Labrie was looking for some kind of pay with this, but was still looking to keep that progressive edge that Dream Theater is well known for (probably to attract more fans of the band; that is how I found this album!).

The great guitar work of Marco Sfogli adds both a fantastic and a bit detracting edge to the album ? at times his playing is perfect for the atmosphere and feel of the song, yet at others his senseless shredding really doesn't fit the music he's soloing over. The whole atmosphere he has created, however, is a nice change of pace from Labrie's traditional work, even if it is a bit on the heavy and popularly-leaning side.

Of course, this intense heavy metal is essential to get DT fans, which were just exposed to Train of Thought in 2003, to like the album. Whether Labrie was intending to produce a near progressive thrash metal album or not, the fusion of this thick music with techno-ish sounds makes for a more unique progressive metal sound. Although it still has the obvious leanings of someone who is intent on making a progressive metal album, it still is a bit of a change of the more virtuoso-esque Dream Theaterian music. Again, whether this is good or not, I can't really tell. I like the more mature compositions of the aged Dream Theater song writers, but Labrie's compositions aren't all that bad. Although his lyrics are even cheesier than some of Dream Theater's, at times they are pretty damn good.

The odd contrast to the heavy metal tracks on the album are the near cheese wheel ballads that dot the album, covered in cheesy electro beats and stereotypical Labrie ballad melodies. Although they are nice, I can't help but laugh. The steady beat, low, breathy vocals, and lyrics so cheesy they could supply a busy deli, most of these songs are just too much for me to take. If one ignores the obvious clichés of the music, they make for nice melodious tracks, but in the end they are quite silly.

In the end, this album receives a very mixed feeling from me. Although the majority of the album is a decent progressive metal album, the album balances out with both equally cheesy and fantastic songs. Labrie, no stranger to the progressive metal genre, has crafted what many bands seem to have failed to do ? a good Dream Theater clone album. Of course this may be biased seeing as Labrie is Dream Theater's singer, but overall the music on this disc isn't all that bad. Overall, the album is just slightly out of touch with a truly good album, yet is better than a non-essential album. I think this is a fantastic addition to any Dream Theater fan's collection, but isn't really necessary elsewhere. 4- stars.

Report this review (#456073)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Solid album from beginning to end and puts Dream Theater's past 5 albums to shame. It blows away Six Degrees, Octavarium, Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds and Silver Growling. But It can't hold a candle to Train of Thought though. Which is really sad really on DT's part.

So.. Its pretty good, but that really is the problem. Its just good and maybe very good in some places, but never transcends to a level of excellence or brilliance (like Images and Words for example).

Now when I first bought this album way back in the day, I absolutely loved it, but over time I kinda forgot about it, and honestly I just listened to it again for the first time since probably 2007, so I guess that really says it all. I forgot about it. Something like Images and Words won't allow itself to be forgotten, it will burrow its way into your brain and DEMAND to be listened to. Yes it has its highlights such as Slightly Out of Reach, which is fantastic, but after just listening fresh, I have to say it kinda has a Strait Forward heavy rock sound, and maybe I'm just progged out of my mind at this point, but it just feels like Generic Meh.

3.5 Stars or B Grade

Report this review (#464158)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I give this album 3 stars but I still believe it's worth a listen. The guitar playing, the vocals and the lyrics themselves make this album worthwhile. As for Labrie, I find that he shines on this album. It's far different from what he's done with DT which makes it worthwhile. This record covers a wide range of styles going from the heavier side to the more mellow. All in all, the reason why I like this album is because the songs don't go into all these different movements. It's straightforward with great lyrics, great vocals, great drumming and killer guitar solos. I recommend this album to anyone. Not a disappointment for me at all!
Report this review (#788428)
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is James LaBrie's first solo album after being one of Dream Theatre's vocalsits. The album is definitely not as adventurous as Dream Theatre, though there are a few hints at the sound of the band. The songs are shorter for the most part, are more rock-oriented with hardly anything adventurous enough to be considered progressive.

There is a lot of variety here which is probably the main thing the album has got going for it. There are a good share of great guitar solos, no doubt about that. But everything is pretty straightforward for a pop/rock album. There are hard driving songs and there are pop songs, but nothing really that interesting.

Instead of a track by track analysis which I usually don't like to do, I will take a few examples that are representative of the songs all throughout the album. "Alone" is okay, but the drums are programmed and they sound that way. It's okay to use programming for certain effects, but they take over pretty much all of the rhythm section on this track. At least there is a decent guitar solo.

"Lost" is merely a pop-oriented song of which there are several on here. Nothing stands out here at all, not even the vocals. It's just another song to get lost in the endless list of radio friendly music that never really even makes it to the radio.

"Pretender" is just straight ahead hard rock track that really doesn't stand out. It's one of many instances of this on the album.

In other words, these are all just ordinary songs that can pretty much be listened to alone. That fits in well with the digital download age, but not fit for those who love album oriented rock.

There really isn't nothing on here that you can't hear on other rock albums. The production is great, the vocals and instrumentals are good, but there is nothing challenging and nothing stands out when the album is over. There is nothing progressive about it other than the lead singer being in DT. I haven't really listened to his other solo albums to see if they are more prog oriented, but as of this album, there is nothing much that can be considered progressive here. It's a good listen, but there are so many good listens out there already that this album just easily falls in between the cracks that lead to ambiguity. 3 stars. For DT fans that don't mind if the music is watered-down and for straightforward rock fans who don't mind a non-challenging album.

Report this review (#1343013)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Having ditched the Mullmuzzler moniker of his previous solo outings, world-renowned vocalist James LaBrie of Dream Theater assembled a new line-up and released his first "official" solo album. Whilst it may come as no surprise that it certainly sounds a lot like Dream Theater and makes use of a lot of the prog metal characteristics that the band pioneered, a steady influence of nu metal, "groove metal" and electronic elements give this album enough of its own identity so that it doesn't sound like "just another Dream Theater album"... while still sounding somewhat similar to the prog metal icons.

One of the biggest differences that set LaBrie's solo work apart from his main band is that the songs are a lot more straightforward and stripped down. The song structures are more akin to standard heavy metal. But with that said, the similarities are still there. Guitarist Marco Sfogli is an absolute beast on the guitar, yet his tone pretty much replicates John Petrucci's perfectly. Matt Guillory's keyboard playing never disappoints, and drummer Mike Mangini must have impressed someone, as he would later go on to join Dream Theater!

There's nothing fancy to say here, and no overly critical insults. 'Crucify', 'Alone', 'Lost' and 'Drained' are all solid tracks that make this a good, quality progressive metal album.

Report this review (#1678082)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Review Permalink

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