James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Inside Out Music – 2013
James LaBrie’s 2005 album Elements of Persuasion is one of my all-time favorites. It was the beginning of the main nucleus of this band; James LaBrie on vocals, Matt Guillory on keyboard and the birth of a guitar wizard Marco Sfogli. When the band followed it up with Static Impulse (2010), they leaned in a heavier direction with the addition of drummer Peter Wildoer’s cookie monster vocals playing a significant role in the songs. Though the music was still excellent, the playing stellar, the more consistently aggressive approach took something away from making it as memorable as their first album.
Impermanent Resonance is nearer to the debut disc, with more delicate moments while still having Wildoer’s harsh vocals within some of the songs. For me, Matt Guillory’s keyboards taking more of a presence is the key that brings out the band’s contrast. When Sfogli’s heavy distorted riffs & Wildoer’s pounding drums are placed against the soft dreamy piano or ambient keyboards, it makes a much more indelible impression.
This bands’ greatest strength is harmony. The incredibly diverse keyboard sounds that stretch from new age piano to electronica set the stage for everyone else to play off of. James LaBrie must be given a great deal of credit because his songwriting with Guillory clicks on every track. LaBrie’s vocal patterns are so damn catchy and pleasing to the ear that you can’t help but get caught in his vocals. The music goes right along to support the rhythmic structure, which is so listenable that I could imagine every tune on the radio. I don’t say this in a condescending way or as a derogatory comment. It’s just that the tunes have so much hook power that I know a mass audience would eat it up.
Just about every song stands out. Highlights include; the vocal flow of “Undertow,” Wildoer’s drum work in “Slight of Hand,” “the gigantic hook of the chorus of “Back On The Ground,” Sfogli’s hypnotic guitar in combo with the fantastic vocal qualities of “Holding On,” Guillory’s beautiful keys in “Lost in the Fire”, which hook up with the chorus in a way that will snag you big-time. I love how Sfogli’s distorted guitar bounces with Ray Riendeau’s bass to really grab you in the seventh track. The heavy guitar riff and drums in “Destined To Burn.” James LaBrie’s heartfelt voice in “Say You’re Still Mine.” The tug-of-war between delicate and heavy music in “Amnesia.” Even the bonus tracks pop; Sfogli’s gorgeous acoustic guitar in ‘”Unraveling” and the way the guitarist and Wildoer attack the last tune “Why.”
It’s not often that a CD comes along that has the killer musical combination that Impermanent Resonance sports. This will be something you will become attached to for not only this year but the rest of your life.