James LaBrie is an artist with a busy schedule, juggling his vocal chords between a demanding fulltime recording and worldwide touring schedules with multi-million selling Progressive Metal pioneers Dream Theater, guest vocal appearances with diverse acts (Ayreon, Fates Warning, Redemption, Shadow Gallery, etc.) and his periodical solo releases. But Toronto, Canada native LaBrie’s solo activities via InsideOutMusic, which have been running under his own name after two albums with the group name “MullMuzzler”, should certainly not be perceived as mere side-note activity between Dream Theater releases. In fact, the James LaBrie albums have become a coherent entity of their own and showcase a skilled and highly impressive, ever-evolving group, very distinct in style and now even consistent in its line-up.
“Impermanent Resonance” was once again conceived together with LaBrie’s songwriting partner for over a dozen years now, Matt Guillory, who didn’t only take the leading role in the composing of the song material, but also handled all of the keyboard recordings as well as background vocals. Just like on the previous album release from 2010, “Static Impulse”, Marco Sfogli from Italy masterfully tracked all of the guitars, bass duties were taken care of by Ray Riendeau (Halford, Machines of Loving Grace) and Swedish drummer extraordinaire Peter Wildoer, who has not only had a long-term international career with his own band Darkane and recent recognition due to his auditions for Dream Theater, but he has also collected high profile recording and performing credits for Metal bands as diverse as Majestic, Old Man’s Child, Pestilence and Arch Enemy.
This solidified line-up for James LaBrie’s releases doesn’t only help the musical chemistry shine through fully, it also adds - actually quite in contrast to the album’s title - an unmistakable evenness in the stylistic approach to be found throughout “Impermanent Resonance”. It substantially and neatly continues the eventful musical ride for all those who enjoyed the dynamic, extremely fresh and very powerful attitude already found on “Static Impulse”. In fact, it even takes the whole journey a step further, with the levels of catchiness and heaviness remarkably increased, without losing sight of the importance of interesting songwriting or technical ingenuity.
James LaBrie comments about “Impermanent Resonance” as follows: “To me this album incorporates and continues with the styles and musical direction that we have created with the previous releases. The difference being that the music on this disc is to me a true telling of the songs evolving and taking on a sense of identity that is every band’s ultimate goal. It is powerful, memorable, hook-driven and above all extremely musical. It shows how the writing and the band itself have matured. I truly feel that this is our quintessential album.”
Further stressing the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” standpoint, James LaBrie has once again decided to round off the international recording sessions for “Impermanent Resonance” by involving the skillful assistance of Jens Bogren and this time also Tony Lindgren at Sweden’s Fascination Street recording studios (Kreator, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Symphony X; etc.). Here the recording of drums, as well as the mix and mastering of the album took place, after their previous collaboration on “Static Impulse” had already lead to much praised results. Visually, LaBrie has hooked up with Gustavo Sazes / abstrata.net (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Kamelot, etc.) to capture and translate the album’s atmosphere into his extremely striking artwork.
Often referenced to “Gothenburg Metal with some progressive elements”, the latest James LaBrie solo-effort once again comes across as notably heavier than what his followers from Dream Theater might expect. But it is the mixture of contemporary, cutting edge ideas from the heavier metal genre blending with LaBrie’s crystal-clear melodic vocals as well as the tasteful, bright and illuminating use of keyboards that makes songs like the thundering opening “Agony”, the super-direct “Back On The Ground” as well as all around entertaining tracks like “Undertow”, “I Got You” or “Amnesia” become instant attractions for open-minded fans of quality metal music. There is no need for a “prog” degree here, but even those with one will find plenty of instrumental sophistication to enjoy on this release.
Kevin James LaBrie commenced as drummer before moving on to vocals and debuting with Canadian Hard Rockers Winter Rose. He joined Dream Theater in 1992 and has been spearheading the progressive Metal movement ever since. He quotes bands like Metallica, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Journey and Judas Priest as well as classical composers as his all-time favorites and lists Steve Perry (Journey), Freddie Mercury, Sting, Paul Rodgers and Nat King Cole as influential vocalists. “Impermanent Resonance” marks the most proficient and “complete” of his solo efforts so far and further pushes the musical envelope, making it another huge step forwards for James LaBrie’s constantly growing, artistically sensational body of work.