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James LaBrie Elements Of Pursuasion
Produced By: Not Listed

Running Time: 67.11

Release Date: Out Now

Released: EU US

Musical Style: Hard Rock / Progressive

Links: James LaBrie
89%
Songs: 86%
Sound: 93%
Review by Mick Ward.
Whoa! On first listen to Elements, the latest offering from James Labrie - the mighty voice of Dream Theater, I was taken by surprise. Haunting acoustics introduce lead track Crucified and are joined by fat riffing guitars before taking off. The intro alone got me excited and still draws me back regularly. The fact that Crucified becomes quite the early Metallica-like speedy number and is most likely the heaviest thing James has vocalized over in recent times is a sure sign Elements of Persuasion is going to be quite the listen! And indeed it is!
Dream Theater comparisons are expected, but to be honest these two are of different style, the obvious difference being Elements is not 'Prog'. Sure James dabbles and on the odd occasion even indulges in Prog, but for the most part this is an album of good variation and predominantly good rock. When James does indulge his support never fails to take on the task with ease, the musicians here are extremely gifted and of the highest order, very capable and well suited to Labrie's voice.
One complaint however is that some of the songs sound to be forcing James to take on a more scream like vocal when perhaps it isn't necessary. Albeit I enjoy this heavy direction I find this is at times a double edged sword. On one hand I praise James for the direction however I don't find him as convincing when using his voice in too heavy a manner. I wonder if the heavy guitars were to be stripped back and a couple of the songs allowed to breathe more, would this allow James to broaden the atmosphere of those songs instead of the bombast? Maybe some of the songs would sound the better for it? Just curious, more on this shortly.
Anyways things go left and right and up and down from second track on, but stand fast in the 'rock' approach. Alone samples some trendy scratching effects (don't be frightened it actually works okay!) and is quite a good song as is third track Freak which is yet again an interesting track with dark undertones and includes more sampling whilst staying 'rock'. Freak is lyrically some of the best work James has penned, nothing too challenging but thought provoking and I'm left a little baffled why he doesn't contribute more lyrics for Dream Theater? Good work.
Loud guitars catch onto a nice walking bass line and make next track Invisible a very accessible song. More effects surround this one which has a simple but nice melodic chorus. Invisable reminds me (as do a few other tracks) of the more simpler DT rockers such as Lie from Awake. Good stuff.
Things take a departure for the next track. Lost throws effects about yet again over a nice piano and bass line and the song rests in a softer delivery whilst running at a nice brisk speed. Undecided is next which returns to heavy, more akin to the intro of lead track Crucify but continues throughout at its start pace. A good song.
Next up is the centre piece of the album, Smashed. 'Smashed' is a soothing ballad with luscious piano and acoustics similar in feel to Surrounded and Another Day from DT's Images and Words. For those I may have confused regarding my concerns that James might be forcing his vocals a little on this album, Smashed is in my opinion the perfect example of James allowing both him and song to breathe. I understand the contrast between heavy and soft music and the fine line that is endured when deciding how a vocal can best compliment a song, but here I think is where James nails it, giving a very convincing performance allowing both music and vocal to compliment each other.
Forget the DT comparisons, they are only put to you in order to place you in the right frame of thought regarding where this little song takes us, Lost is a magnificent song. Lovely stuff and I raise a glass to this one.
Things continue on without too much departure from what has already gone. Pretender booms out of the speakers and I rate this as one of my faves, fast heavy riffs and a wonderful chorus. Slightly Out Of Reach is another fine ballad with good use of melody and voice, Oblivious is a more modern nu breed like guitar orientated song, In too Deep is big sound big guitars (and double bass?) but nothing too memorable, and last but not least is Drained one of the better rockers on offer here. 'Drained' works due to its vocal guitar vocal guitar structure and works particularly well due to the awesome riff the guitar punches out. The song also contains a wonderful bridge and great chorus. Overall one of the better songs on the album and well worth the wait.
The Bottom Line
As much praise I've given this album I still get the feeling a lot of the entertainment is due to fantastic production and that small comfort of a familiar voice. I would have liked a couple more killer tunes but regardless, this is a great effort and with only a little work should satisfy most melodicrockers.
Other Projects / Bands
Dream Theater
Mullmuzzler
Tim Donahue
Frameshift

Line Up
Promo: Not Listed
Essential for fans of:
MullMuzzler
Dream Theater
James LaBrie
Track Listing
Crucify
Alone
Freak
Invisible
Lost
Undecided
Smashed
Pretender
Slightly Out Of Reach
Oblivious
In Too Deep
Drained


20/06/06: Drew - drewcarpenter@drewzter.com
Rating: 11
My favorite album of the year, by far. Where Octavarium is light and even poppy, Elements is hard and in your face. I echo someone else's statement that this is much better than Octavarium and also very hard to take out of the stereo.
I don't get the criticism that he doesn't do hard singing well, and that he's too screamy on this album... I love each and every song here.
Incredible!

02/06/06: Herb - dolphin80@yahoo.com
Rating: 93
Holy cow...this album SMOKES!!

Whoever this guitarist is...he friggin ROCKS. When I play this CD, I have the volume up as far as the speakers and bass will take it. This is probably my most favorite CD of the year. I like Dream Theater and their Octavarium CD, but I find myself favoring this James LaBrie solo effort MUCH more. WOW. Give it a listen...I'm sure you'll agree!

04/12/05: Andy - zman@comcast.net
Rating: 95
This is a terrific album. I got it because of the reviews here and was not disapointed. James La Brie is in top form, and the guitar work of Marco Sfogli is simply outstanding. I'm hoping for another release from this group of musicians. Get a hold of this one, it ROCKS!!! Keep up the good work James!

15/07/05: Worldwideweb - worldwideweb@katamail.com
Rating: 90
Excellent record! Great production! Fantastic songs! Superb instrumental parts (thanks also to the amazing guitar work done by italian Marco Sfogli)! But most of all welcome back the return of the great vocal ability of James LaBrie, which was too much sacrificed over the last Dream Theater' opus.

04/07/05: Hunter Carnes - carnesh2@bellsouth.net
Rating: 100
OK, this isn't Dream Theater, it's not supposed to be. James LaBrie is a phenomenal singer - heavy, ballads, whatever he does. This album IS very heavy and his style here IS different from things he has done before, but that is called growing as an artist and trying new things. If the album would have been terrible we all could have shrugged it off as a failed experiment. As it happened, this is a terrific album. The songs are catchy and well written, the musicianship is excellent, and LaBrie's voice is as powerful and sweet as it has ever been. Being a big Dream Theater fan I must say that I think this album is much better overall than the new DT album "Octavarium". I admire Mr. Labrie for stretching a little and trying something this heavy, and for pulling it off in grand fashion. If you like good heavy, melodic, guitar driven music set behind the best voice in rock and roll, you shouldn't miss this album. Not only is this "album of the year" type stuff, but a cd that you will find hard to take out of your stereo. Bravo James, well done!!

27/06/05: Paulo - magnavis@hotmail.com
Rating: 75
I'm a big fan of James Labrie's solo work. Since both Mullmuzzller's albuns, I've been waiting for his new solo album and hoping it might be good - or even better than previously ones. But it was not, though it has some nice moments. I've always liked Labrie's voice in his way - should I say feeling? - of singing ballads. It doesn't happen this time. He's screaming like hell, since it's a metal album. And for screaming, his voice is not that good. It reminded me of Train Of Thought vocals by Dream Theater, which has disappointed me a lot! Anyway, maybe he can make it better - like he used to - in his next solo. Cheers! (PS: calm songs are better in his pure voice. Check Dream Theater's Octavarium: a nice progressive rock albumm with clean vocals!)

25/06/05: IAN MASCALL - mookthebarbus@tiscali.co.uk
Rating: 95
Well what can l say as l avid Dream Theater fan l havve collected many of the solo projects in the past. But this one is superb from start to finish,l missed seeing James Labrie and Evergrey < Another fave > in London in April as l was away in Ireland..
But seeing DT in London in Oct will make up for it..
All in all a great album and most DT fans will buy it anyway..
Great vocals and good guitar work simply awesome stuff..
BUY IT WITH CONFIDENCE...

24/06/05: Freddy De Keyzer - freddk100@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
SUPERB solo record from the Dream Theater singer !
Boy, is this heavy !, but still melodic !
Even for a big pomp/AOR fan like me, this is exciting stuff !
Together with the PHENOMENAL new act PRESTO BALLET, Vanishing Point and the new Dream Theater one of the absolute highlights of the year so far !
BUY OR DIE !!!


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