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James LaBrie

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James LaBrie Elements Of Persuasion album cover
3.53 | 151 ratings | 34 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Crucify (6:03)
2. Alone (5:36)
3. Freak (5:38)
4. Invisible (5:42)
5. Lost (3:41)
6. Undecided (5:30)
7. Smashed (5:31)
8. Pretender (5:36)
9. Slightly Out Of Reach (5:31)
10. Oblivious (5:20)
11. In Too Deep (6:56)
12. Drained (5:14)

Total Time: 66:18

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / lead & backing vocals, arrangements & production

- Marco Sfogli / rhythm & lead guitars
- Matt Guillory / keyboards, piano, guitar solo (1-3,6,9,10), arrangements & production
- Bryan Beller / bass
- Mike Mangini / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

CD Inside Out Music - IOMCD 204 (2005, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JAMES LABRIE Elements Of Persuasion ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

JAMES LABRIE Elements Of Persuasion reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Muzikman
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-

Review by semismart
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

Review by Clayreon
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

Review by hdfisch
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!
Review by FloydWright
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.

Review by AtLossForWords
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.

Review by 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

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by ProgBagel
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.

Review by jampa17
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...

Review by 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.

Review by Andy Webb
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1678082) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#788428) | Posted by theknife1970 | Sunday, July 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 go ... (read more)

Report this review (#464158) | Posted by Phoenix87x | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 he ... (read more)

Report this review (#123912) | Posted by KansasRushDream | Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#66723) | Posted by mdorovich | Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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, scr ... (read more)

Report this review (#60339) | Posted by dltonya | Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#50648) | Posted by | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 d ... (read more)

Report this review (#45080) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#40313) | Posted by Serpico | Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#40194) | Posted by | Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#40193) | Posted by Drew | Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#40066) | Posted by | Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#37809) | Posted by | Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#36928) | Posted by JedHead | Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#36490) | Posted by eugene | Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#36369) | Posted by | Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#34887) | Posted by | Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#34886) | Posted by | Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 b ... (read more)

Report this review (#34884) | Posted by | Friday, May 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 hea ... (read more)

Report this review (#34881) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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