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4 stars by the time he put out this record, the whole world of dream theater was in a turbulent moment, changing of keybordist for the second time, numerous side projects from ALL the members and, well, a very strange shine at the end of the tunel... the record is by itself, like the one he recorded some vocal earlier (see explorer's club), a superstar line-up of musicians playing and writing music... i mean, LaBrie uses the shoulders of them all to create a record that goes inbetween DT an his former band Winter Rose (on vocals) and the wide range of artists from the magna carta label in music. A very good solo effort from someone that comes from the most famous band of the prog rock scene in the USA.
Report this review (#4938)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is the first side project of Dream Theater's James LaBrie. Sorry to say, the music direction here still has the same air with DT: thunderous drumming, great guitar solo and also LaBrie's high octave voice. Except for track "Beelzebubba", LaBrie cleverly could step out of his DT style, musically and vocally. For those who are mad about DT, this album is collectible. But those who aren't, mmm... well?
Report this review (#4939)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply awesome. Really a masterpiece. The vocals are interacting with the instruments perfectly. I fear to say that the ambient created by the instrumentists releases Labrie's voice much better than in Dream Theater. The chemistry among all musicians is evidently balanced so that all instruments together work better than solos that "make you rush". Therefore, everything is in its right place and criativity flows freely.
Report this review (#4941)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars In my search of new porg band, I told myself "Hey, why don`t you look the side poryect of yuors favrite groups?", and I started to look first with LaBrie proyects: bad begining, LaBrie only knows sing, his voice is very god, but his ideas of prog isn`t, if he is with a god leader in a pryect he can make a very good thing, like DT or Leonardo, but he dont know how to make an album.
Report this review (#38869)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably bacause I've heard this one after SFAM I was very happy to listen to an album made By James, which is all about what he contributed to DT. I'm a DT fan, but I can't stop digesting their side projects, because it is like building blocks. Each of them gives his building block to form the greatest masterpieces, but stangely these blocks ar egreat all by their selfes. Great Music. Truly a mixture of the greatest classic combined with James's vocals which even at Images and words where great, but trough evolving, they are today the leading in the industry.

Thanks James for the album!

Report this review (#41283)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For anyone that knows my reviews, it shouldn't be a mystery by now the fact that I'm certainly not a detractor of James LaBrie's vocals.

So, having clarified that, let me say a few words about the Canadian master's first solo recording, Mullmuzzler's KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

In this album, LaBrie is joined by quite a talented group of people. You can check the names above, but let's just say that the musicians playing the instruments here are some of the best, members of a band that, sadly, died long before being able to reach the zenith of their capabilities, Dali's Dilemma. The rest of the musical palette here is equally promising: Dave Townsend, Wayne Gardner, and fantastic composer Trent Gardner, among others. In the song-writing side of things, LaBrie's partners in art are musicians of the caliber of Gardner himself, plus two outstanding instrumentalists and melodic masters as Carl Cadden-James and Gary Wehrkamp, of Shadow Gallery's fame. With that kind of personnel available, it would take quite a disaster to release a bad album. Did it happen?

By now you've checked my rating and now that the answer is a tremendous, absolute NO. The album is, for me, quite a masterpiece of short, concise, melodic, emotional songs that serve as catalysts for LaBrie to be able to display his wonderful vocal abilities. What we have here is a sort of mix between heavy metal, prog-metal and plain hard-rock, with even some pop elements thrown in the mix. Most of the tracks are short, but that doesn't mean there's no room for instrumental wonders or amazing coloring works. Also, most of the songs (except those written by Trent Gardner, which comes as no surprise) are incredibly melodic, with emotional passages that wouldn't work as well if they weren't sung by the voice of Dream Theater and the voice of Progressive-Metal. LaBrie's vocals are just another instrument, the one that delivers the goods, the one that separates anger from peace, hate from love, happiness from sadness.

There's quite a big room for progressiveness, too. Not only do the short tracks have incredible melodies and great textures, but there's a couple very weird, absurd, yet very gratifying songs courtesy of that master of this-doesn't-belong-here music, Trent Gardner. So the album is a complete package, with elements that will be to the liking of everyone.

His Voice (10/10) A bubble full of musical colors and then an onslaught of energy, but not brutal, senseless energy, yet one that expresses sadness but at the same time relief, love. Things could've been better, that's what this guy is telling us. Now it's too late. The piano touches in the chorus add to the unexpected beauty in such a fast, relentless, short track. A great keyboard solo signals the entrance of the last section and the end of this fantastic opener.

Statued (9.5/10) The start announces a much heavier song that what this one turns into. The main section is so elegant, but also so nostalgic, LaBrie makes us feel WITH him, not AT him. The chorus expresses anger while the bass player amazes us in the verse with great playing. The bridge is a thing of sheer beauty, much in the vein of that decent band I happen to bear from time to time, Dream Theater. The Master conveys love, and we're convinced. But then that turns into anger, and we're convinced, too.

The Shores of Avalon (8.5/10) The main riff in this song has some oriental overtones. This track sounds a little like Shadow Gallery, no wonder seeing the credits behind it. This is not the more emotional song in the album but comes as the rights halt after all the heart that bled in the preceding ones. The chorus is emotional, though, expressing admiration mixed with doubt and desire to live in peace, a desire to BE somewhere. It's a good rocker, a compelling prog-metal track. The middle section is pure Awake-era DT.

Beelzebubba (8.5/10) A weird, unusual but very interesting song that comes from the mind of Trent Gardner. The bass line at the beginning seems like a joke, and the song never quite gets serious. Even LaBrie sings with less caution here, though the pre- chorus section is very melodic and almost pastoral in its peace (?!). The sound of the trombone played by Gardner is another signal as to the sarcasm of this pretty good song, which talks about, well, Slick Willy, the President that loved interns. Guardian Angel (10/10) As the lyrics say, we're in the first hours of a misty morning, opening our eyes, and it's there; when everything goes down, it's there; when loneliness strikes, it's there. What is it? Well, whatever the idea of a Guardian Angel means to you. Knowing the love for, well, love, that Gary Wehrkamp and all of Shadow Gallery have, it's not difficult to understand (and agree) as to the meaning of the song. A true anthem for two, the guardian and his angel, the guardian angel of an angel. Omnipresent, it will overcome anything. And musically the song works perfectly, with one of those choruses that makes you want to go and declare yourself to somebody, tell her that whatever happens, you'll be there, that whatever your faults may be, in the end you're going to be there. Excellent. This is not cheese, this is not saccharine, this is prog-metal that simply talks about the emotion that really changes everybody's life, for good or worse. In the end the riff and tone of the song gets menacing, heavier, denser. Is it the fatalism of love? The pessimism of impossibility? I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too hard on a simple metal track, but what can I do. I have ears, and a weak heart. It doesn't hurt the fact that the Master sings the words in the chorus so peacefully, so reassuringly. There can't be any doubt after that. We're protected.

Sacrifice (8.5/10) So mellow a track is just difficult to imagine. In the beginning we really are walking over flowers and cushions of the brightest colors, while the sun doesn't burn us, just illuminates us. LaBrie exaggerates the mellowness here (see? I CAN criticize the guy!), he sings just too.cutely? The chorus is slightly darker, but the mood of the song altogether is one of complete infatuation, love becoming stupidity. Great song for people like me that like stupidity. But I'd understand if many find it too sweet, bordering on cheesiness. What can I do. I'm weak.

Lace (8/10) Keyboards straight from Manifesto for Futurism (Dali's Dilemma's only album) mark the start of this heavier, more obscure song. The verse is full of shadows and ghosts, spirits of the worst kind. The pre-chorus has a decent groove to it, and the chorus itself is very good, specially for the powerful, crashing piano chords. LaBrie's voice here suffers for the first and only time in the album, but mostly because the chorus asks for more of a screamer, a yeller, than a singer, as it's out of the reach of the Canadian's voice range. A good song, not brilliant as it contains the only weak moment of LaBrie in the disc, but the music is very compelling.

Slow Burn (8.5/10) Another incredibly melodic start. Some guitar notes straight out of a 80's power ballad with piano over them, making the music sound much superior. LaBrie pays his dues after the last song with a fantastic performance, one of those he's capable of. The track is very gentle, quiet, couldn't kill a fly. Near the end it gets more energetic, with a good guitar solo in pure 80's metal flavor. Good song.

As A Man Thinks (9/10) Trent Gardner has come back to out-weird anybody. A polyphonic a capella start signals that what's to come would, at least, be very progressive. Then the second section is so lovely and melodic, seems straight out of Gardner's masterpiece LEONARDO THE ABSOLUTE MAN, a brilliant example of his abilities, mixing utter chaos with beauty, always with verse and word structures that seem a little out of place. The middle section it's not as good, and the song continues to get more absurd, if only on the surface, for it's really a simple rock track with various sections and abundant stops. The most progressive track is not the best but is right there near the top.

All in all, not an album for the hard-hearted (I don't know if such an expression exists. Too much Trent Gardner I guess.) But I can't let this album go. It was one of my first non-Dream Theater progressive rock albums, and I just love it. With absolute objectivity, the rating would be a 4. My heart tells me give it a 5. Let's make an average and rate it with a 4.5 over 5.

Wait. There's no such option in the Archives. I'll have to round the rating up, as the norm calls for, and give it a 5. Sorry.

Not recommended for: People that can't stand LaBrie, of course. People that don't like mellow, melodic, soft metal. People that reject the idea of soft feelings getting into their prog.

Recommended for: Fans of James LaBrie. Fans of Dream Theater, if not those that only like their metallic, ultra-progressive side. Fans of melodic metal. But most of all, the weak of heart.

.you won't inherit the earth. But you can buy this album.

Report this review (#118911)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like everyone else I bought this album because James Labrie ( Dream Theater) is the lead vocalist in Mullmuzzler. At the time I swallowed everything Dream Theater related, and I remember that I liked this Keep It To Yourself, without ever being too impressed. It´s about the same feeling I have today when listening to Keep It To Yourself.

The music is symphonic prog rock and links can obviously be made to the more simple Dream Theater songs. I also hear influences from bands like Extreme and Foreigner. Songs like Beelzebubba and As A Man Thinks could have been Extreme songs of of the Three Sides to Every Story album. Beelzebubba has a pretty funky brass arrangement so as you can read there is great variation on the album. Personally I like the more Dream Theater inspired songs the best. Songs like His Voice, Statued and Lace.

The musicians here are all very good. Mike Keneally who played with Zappa plays guitar on Keep It To Yourself and Drummer Mike Magnini who played with Steve Vai plays the drums on the album. This means that you can´t help being impressed with the playing as these musicians are outstanding. James Labrie sounds like he always does. So nothing new under the sun there.

The sound quality is very good even though it could have been a bit more personal, but I guess this is typical for project bands.

All in all this is a good album, but really nothing special in my eyes and I would recommend picking up any Dream Theater album over this one at any time. 3 stars for a solid performance and some good compositions. Extreme fans might get satisfaction out of this one.

Report this review (#164805)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a really good album, no lie.

When I first got into Dream Theater, I didn't really like James LaBrie. From reading stuff around, I discovered that he hardly ever contributed anything to Dream Theater's music, and was just nothing but a singer. And in some live instances, his voice sucked really really bad. So at first I loved Dream Theater, wanted them to get rid of James because he never contributed anything, and had a bad voice anyway.

However, I have a wonderfully renewed respect for James LaBrie, I WAS WRONG. I found that while he doesn't contribute to music, he writes lyrics sometimes, and good ones at that. I also discovered that his voice had been screwed up in those live concerts because of a food poisoning incident in which his voice was kinda messed up. I popped in Images & Words, and marveled at how beautiful his voice was, so... Majestic. And last but certainly not least, I discovered that he had a wonderful solo career in Mullmuzzler, and his own name. I gave them a listen, and while they're not like Dream Theater (well, maybe a tiny bit, but I can definitely tell the difference) they're still amazing.

Keep it to yourself is a wonderfully progressive album, it doesn't really have any of the epic 20 minute songs or all that, but it gets the progressiveness from instrumental sections and improvisations. Many different genres combined with heavy metal, and a wonderful voice from James LaBrie... and he actually wrote some music this time! Along with the members of his band... which kinda makes me want to seek out the careers of those musicians as well.

James LaBrie rocks, seriously this is a great album, 4 stars. Not a landmark absolute masterpiece, but certainly a wonderful CD full of nice music.

Report this review (#197698)
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars This was James LaBrie's first real solo album even though he has since put out two solo albums under his own name. Keyboard player Matt Guillory has played on all of LaBrie's solo projects. A lot of similarities between this one and the first one under his name. It's Prog-Metal all right but there is too much sap if you know what I mean.

"His Voice" opens wih keybords as the heaviness come and goes. It stays until reserved vocals arrive before a minute with background synths. Contrasts continue. "Statued" opens with guitar and drums but it settles quickly when the vocals arrive. Again the contrasts continue. I like the bass on this one. "Shores Of Avalon" opens with acoustic guitar as the sound gets fuller. I like the riffs that come in quickly. Vocals after a minute don't do a lot for me. Instrumentally I like this one a lot. "Beelzebubba" is the southern name for the devil I suppose. Heavy drums and bass to start. Horns too but in a style I do not like at all as they blast away. Not a fan of this one.

"Guardian Angel" is the heaviest yet as reserved vocals come in and background synths over the riffs. It kicks into gear a minute in. Nice guitar solo before 4 minutes. Check out the bass too. "Sacrifice" opens with gentle guitar as fragile vocals and synths join in.This is like a power ballad. "Lace" is heavy to start as the sound builds. I like it ! Vocals and synths join in. Killer guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes from Mike Keneally. "Slow Burn" is a ballad. "As A Man Thinks" opens with vocals only including backing vocals.Yikes ! Much better when the music kicks in before a minute. I don't like when it calms right down around a minute either. Themes are repeated.

For James LaBrie fans only. There's some good stuff on here but overall this is a tough listen. The cover art is disturbing as well (haha).

Report this review (#297182)
Posted Thursday, September 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's 1999 and James LaBrie has released his first "solo album", a term used lightly as this is still a group collaboration, despite being mostly considered a James LaBrie "project". It sounds similar to Dream Theater (no way?!?!), but that's not a criticism. In fact, something interesting to note about this album is that it was supposedly written and recorded by all the musicians separately, exchanging ideas through post and emails. That's a common thing these days, but back in 1999 it was still quite an ambitious undertaking.

Still, I'm not going to use that as an excuse for the relatively average quality of the songs. They're not terrible, but they all sound pretty disjointed, lacking the soul of a song that was created through spontaneous jam sessions of people sat in the same room together.

Besides LaBrie on vocals, you have some heavy hitters like Mike Mangini on drums, Matt Guillory on keyboards and Mike Keneally on guitars. It's a shame there just doesn't seem to be any chemistry going on between them all. But hey, criticisms aside, some of the songs are pretty good. 'His Voice', 'Guardian Angel' and 'Shores of Avalon' are all redeeming qualities of 'Keep It To Yourself'. Sadly, then there's also songs like 'Beelzebubba'. It has an almost Faith No More vibe to it. It sounds experimental and I appreciate what the group were attempting here. But come on... there's only so many times I can tolerate hearing James LaBrie singing "Slick Willy"...

It's certainly not going to be on anyone's "best albums of 1999" list, but it's not a bad addition to the collection if you stumble across it cheap. Ultimately, it's Jame LaBrie, so there's bound to be plenty of Dream Theater fanatics out there (like me) who need to own everything the band and its members put out, anyway.

Report this review (#1478626)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2015 | Review Permalink

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