James LaBrie is musical Marmite.
James LaBrie is better known as the lead singer of progressive metal giants Dream Theater, but like all members of that band, he manages to pull off a rather busy musical career outside of the band. Impermanent Resonance is his newest solo effort, coming out after his 2010 album Static Impulse.
Impermanent Resonance is best described as a simple metal album. The album is an outing for his musical style and taste which are a lot more simple than people would expect. In addition he doesn’t provide the entirety of the vocals, as he is also joined by Peter Wildoer, who in addition to beating the drum kit around with exceptional force, provides harsh, death metal style vocals.
This mix actually comes off quite well, similar to his previous album, LaBrie and Wildoer perform some kind of evil duet on several of the tracks, most notably on the first one. With LaBrie’s high-pitched voice mixing rather well with Wildoer’s death growls. Everything fits well on this album, the drums and guitar doing a decent job of giving us an enjoyable, if slightly plain, metal experience.
The album’s biggest let down however, is its poor lyric content, songs like ‘I Got You’ have horrendously poor chorus work, and the song ‘Down to Earth’ brings images of LaBrie sitting on a mountain top trying to serenade a reluctant UFO pilot. LaBrie has never been an excellent lyricist and it really shows on several of the tracks, the rest of the tracks are bearable provided you don’t pay too much attention to what LaBrie is actually singing about.
Despite issues on lyrical quality, Impermanent Resonance is not a bad album in other regards. The music is well put together, even if it is a little bit generic at times. The death metal vocals provide an interesting change from LaBrie’s own. And the drumming is particularly good, with Peter Wildoer doing some incredibly heavy drum beats. Everything on this album is good, even though it comes across as being a little too ‘safe’ for its own good.
Impermanent Resonance is not Dream Theater light, and this point cannot be more stressed enough. LaBrie never tries to attempt what his parent band performs on a regular basis. Instead the offspring has grown to hate his father and his ways, preferring to make his own path through life. The only true hint of a ‘progressive’ sound is on the song ‘Why’ which has an extended guitar solo, but that is as far as LaBrie takes it. This is a stark comparison to the more extravagant style that can be seen on some of his earlier work.
James LaBrie’s fifth solo effort shows him wandering happily down a tangent path away from Dream Theater. He is quite happy to keep providing a more basic type of sound when compared to his earlier work, especially on the album Elements of Persuasion. Unfortunately for LaBrie he does not have an exceptional ability as a song writer or lyricist, and his music will occasionally leave you feeling hollow or embarrassed with its horrendously cheesy sound.