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Dream Theater vocalist does pop melodic death??! - 86%

gabaghoul_totd, October 29th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, InsideOut Music

I’ve been a longtime Dream Theater fan – 21 years, in fact, since the release of one of the finest progressive metal albums ever released, Images and Words. And yet, in all of that time, I’ve never checked out any of vocalist James LaBrie’s solo material (4 albums’ worth). A friend slapped me around a bit recently and made me listen to LaBrie’s last release, 2010’s Static Impulse. “It’s Dream Theater meets Soilwork,” he said. “You’ll love it.” And I did.

Then I found out that LaBrie’s latest solo album, Impermanent Resonance, came out a few weeks ago. Once again, it’s Dream Theater meets Soilwork, except now with even more Soilwork, thanks to the addition of Peter Wichers as co-songwriter, and the return of former Soilwork producer (and current Darkane drummer) Peter Wildoer on drums and harsh vocals.

And yes, I said harsh vocals, as this isn’t a flowery progressive metal album – it’s melodic death with ear-candy choruses. Make that James LaBrie singing ear-candy choruses, which makes this even more listenable and addictive. That puts Impermanent Resonance right up next to poppy melodic death like Scar Symmetry or Sonic Syndicate. The near-constant burble of techno synths throughout also reminds me of spastic technocore bands like Eskimo Callboy or Blood Stain Child, but it’s amazing what smooth, hook-filled songwriting will do for you.

Although “Agony” kicks off with standard melodic death chug and growls, LaBrie’s high, clear croon soars in for the chorus and just kills it. And then he does it again three more times on “Undertow,” “Slight of Hand” and “Back on the Ground, each with its own addictive peaks. Wildoer and LaBrie trade off in the verses on these tracks, but then starting with “I Got You,” the rest of Impermanent Resonance is focused on LaBrie and a varied vocal performance of breathless sighs and soaring choruses. However, after “I Got You,” the album downshifts into a long sequence of slow-burner, pensive tracks like “Holding On,” “Lost in the Fire,” “Destined to Burn,” and “Amnesia,” without many fast or aggressive moments to liven them up. They’re all listenable and well-crafted tracks (particularly “Holding On”), but they tend to blend together after awhile. More variety in the pacing might have made the overall effect less, well, impermanent.

Soilwork has already released two phenomenal albums this year, and although this doesn’t match The Living Infinite‘s spectacular energy and fireworks, it’s a fine companion piece. It hits my melody sweet spot in many ways, and once again, I never would have expected James LaBrie to be doing melodic death for his solo efforts. Refreshing, fun and a great warm-up for the upcoming Dream Theater release.

Originally published on

Killer melodic heavy metal. - 90%

Tobbe L, September 1st, 2013

Just two months prior to Dream Theater's coming self titled release, vocalist James LaBrie's new solo album hits the streets. I really can't see the point in that peculiar timing. His latest solo effort was released three years ago and his main band's a year later. Being on different labels though might have helped to determine these decisions.

I might as well write this answer right away, because everybody will sooner or later let this question come in mind. Yes, there are progressive moments on this release, yet that's definitely not what's set in total focus. LaBrie instead concentrate on accurate killer choruses that combines the essence of his newly improved voice, captivating monumental rhythms and brilliant playing. It's a well balanced album with a mixture of melodic metal styles, making it enthralling all throughout these entire twelve songs.

In Dream Theater, LaBrie has by evil tongues occasionally been called the band's weak link, but with this album, he certainly shows what he's capable of. In my opinion, he hasn't sung this well in many years, as he now follows his own distinct pattern with much needed freedom. He hits the verses spot on and doesn't falter for one bit when he builds the atmospheres or the heavy hitting emotional impacts.

A first class production brings out most of this effort. Jens Bogren is a killer producer and also highly sought after. In coming years, only bands with solid financial means will probably be able to hire him. What a shame if so. He will be sorely missed. In track number 5, I Got You, LaBrie sings that he doesn't need stars to wish upon or some magician with a magic wand. Rest assured, he already have them.

This international unit has with Impermanent Resonance created something killer. This is definitely one of my favorite albums in 2013 up until now.

Originally written for

Enjoyable Melodic Metal - 79%

LuisC, July 31st, 2013

Dream Theater’s Singer James LaBrie’s solo efforts have been a complete musical journey since Mullmuzzler released its first album in 1999: Going from a warm progressive rock in their first two albums, to a more metal-oriented overhaul in their 2005 effort Elements of Persuasion, to a more melodeath style in their last album Static Impulse. And that brings us to their latest album, Impermanent Resonance, which takes the band to a more melodic, catchy, dare I say pop metal direction.

The overall feel of the album isn’t quite what I expected when I heard the first single; the fast “Agony”, which is a continuation of their Static Impulse formula and also serves as the album’s opener. The first tracks have a more keyboard-oriented style and take a lot of melodies from mainstream rock and pop (Most notable in songs like “I Got You” and “Amnesia”) while still keeping the double-bass drum beats and distorted guitar sound always present in LaBrie’s albums. The sound of the album is great, since none of the instruments overlap or interfere with each other, and it’s easily one of the things that makes this album more listenable.

Guitar virtuoso Marco Sfogli’s work isn’t as noticeable in this album as it was in their last two: a lot of the songs don’t feature a guitar solo, which is in my opinion a step backwards and an overlook of the italian player’s amazing skills, specially since the Guitar solos (When featured) are definitely a standout of the album. Sfogli and Drummer Peter Wildoer, however, do deliver the heaviness necessary to keep the flow of the album going and to save it from boredom in some tracks, something that makes one wonder why don’t they stand out more in the songs instead of staying as background players behind the vocals and keyboardist Matt Guillory’s lines. LaBrie’s vocals are quite similar to his last two albums, albeit a little bit more melodic and soft, which is something that definitely gets the album going and it keeps the essence of the band as well. This album is a proof that Mr. LaBrie can be quite a versatile singer, being capable of doing heartfelt ballads, fun rock songs and the usual heavier, more serious vocals he does with Dream Theater completely well. Wildoer’s growling vocals aren’t as prominent in this album as they were in Static Impulse but act as a nice complement to LaBrie’s singing when they act together.

Most of the melodies themselves, composed by Guillory, are actually very enjoyable and some of the songs stayed in my mind for a considerable amount of time after hearing the album (“I Got You” is a personal guilty pleasure of mine, and “Lost in the Fire” and “Undertow” are really memorable songs as well); but this isn’t, in my opinion, much of an album to hear from beginning to end, as the songs featured in it seem to be stronger as individual tracks. Both the electronic intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge formula and LaBrie’s more pop-oriented vocal delivery tends to get stale towards the end of the album, fortunately saved by the heavy album’s closer track “I Will Not Break”, which left me with a bittersweet taste towards the album since it made me long for more tracks like it, as if the fast-paced, thrashing song I was waiting for arrived too late.

Impermanent Resonance confirms the Canadian singer’s band sound as a more unique one, completely strayed away from the prog metal sound of Dream Theater. Fans of the Mullmuzzler material and Dream Theater’s more progressive side won’t be too keen on the album, but the ones who embrace some melodic metal once in a while will enjoy the tracks. While I was left with the impression that Impermanent Resonance could have been better with some heavier tracks, the overall energetic and upbeat atmosphere of the album is something I’ll be looking forward to hear again and again.

Standout tracks: “Agony”, “Undertow”, “Holding On”, “Lost in the Fire”, and “I Will not Break”