James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance (InsideOut Music)

Friday, 16th August 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

The odd, uncomfortable relationship between Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie and the band’s now-ex drummer Mike Portnoy helped push the singer into solo territory in 2005. LaBrie, often shuttered out of the creative process because of Portnoy’s (and to a lesser degree John Petrucci) stranglehold on lyrics and vocal melodies, has used his solo forays to demonstrate his fondness for more metallic avenues, with 2010’s Static Impulses engaging in thrash and even death metal. His third album, Impermanent Resonance doesn’t quite have the range of its predecessor, but it doesn’t really have to – LaBrie has already shown he’s at his best when things are heavy.

Joined by the same supporting cast as Static Impulses (Darkane’s Peter Wildoer is the showstopper), LaBrie and friends make a beeline for thrashier avenues via opener “Agony,” which if we want to get cute, ventures into semi-melodic death metal territory. Wildoer is lending some death barks, which are a bit out of place, but hey, all in the name of variety, eh? Whereas the chorus-driven “Slight of Hand” (watch those boring downtuned riffs, guys) and “I Got You” are the benefactors of LaBrie’s arena-sized vocals, the softer lines of “Back on the Ground” are iffy; same with “Destined to Burn.”

Impermanent Resonance doesn’t have the ability to take people by surprise like its predecessor, so the necessary toning down of the extraneous elements pushes the album back into the middle. LaBrie’s voice is still largely intact though; those years of hanging out on the side while his Dream Theater bandmates noodle away have served the Canadian well, and with Portnoy out of the picture, perhaps he’ll get some more face-time in his bread-and-butter act. If not, there’s always the solo venture.

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