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LaBrie, James


Elements of Persuasion

Year: 2005
Format: CD
Label: InsideOut
Genre: [Metal/Modern Metal]
Overall Rating: 8.5
Music: 8.5
Production: 8.5

James LaBrie is mostly known for his singing in progressive metal band Dream Theater. Not many know that JLB actually worked on his "solo" career prior to joining Dream Theater. In 1989, LaBrie finished Winter Rose's self-titled debut album. Since it wasn't too successful, he joined Dream Theater.

During his career, James LaBrie has been in various side projects, but most of those projects don't count as solo performances. In 1999, he formed the MullMuzzler project, which is basically LaBrie's solo band. For some reason JLB didn't publish those two MullMuzzler albums under his own name. Thus 'Elements of Persuasion' is the first release under LaBrie's own name, although it's already his third solo album.

The music on 'Elements of Persuasion' is quite similar to that of the MullMuzzler projects' [MullMuzzler: Keep It to Yourself (1999) and James LaBrie's MullMuzzler: MullMuzzler 2 (2001)]. Therefore it's surprising that 'Elements of Persuasion' won't be released under the name of MullMuzzler. Compared to the previous albums the music is slightly heavier than it used to be, but there's still room for both vocals and synth parts. In addition to the heavier songs, there are also few tranquil songs ('Lost', 'Smashed' and 'Slightly Out of Reach', for example). As usual, Mike Mangini takes care of rhythmics and from time to time he performs well-timed fills. Elements of Persuasion is a bit more experimental than LaBrie's previous solo efforts, especially with the samples adding atmosphere and intermezzos into the songs. James LaBrie also experiments with the use of his voice for example, on 'Freak' he uses a cool industrial effect on the vocals every now and then. Actually 'Freak' is one of my favourites on this album. It seems that JLB's appearance on the first Frameshift album (Unweaving the Rainbow) has affected LaBrie's way of singing a bit (nowadays he dares to be more innovative).

The line-up on this new album is almost the same as on previous MullMuzzler albums. Only the guitarist has changed; Marco Sfogli is the successor of Mike Keneally and Mike Borkosky. Sfogli's contribution to the music are the melodic leads in the vein of John Petrucci, Michael Romeo, Steve Lukather and Andy Timmons (a relatively small amount of the latter though). However, not all of Sfogli's leads are well-thought-out since they don't always fit to the song seamlessly. Nevertheless, more often than not his leads are worthwhile. The songs on this album were written and arranged by James LaBrie together with Matt Guillory, and on five tracks guitarist and sound engineer Brian Wherry was involved as well. Brian Wherry brought tight riffs reminiscent of modern metal into the mix.

Production-wise Elements of Persuasion is quite good. On average the sounds are tight and solid. Nevertheless, the heavily distorted guitars cause occasionally some background distortion. Other than that the recordings are rather clean.

For the open-minded listeners, who can tolerate nu-metal/modern metal sections, 'Elements of Persuasion' is definitely an album worth listening. Especially this album appeals to those who like Frameshift's 'Unweaving the Rainbow' and James LaBrie's MullMuzzler albums. Unfortunately, all of the songs on this album aren't of the same high quality (few songs are mediocre). Nonetheless, Elements of Persuasion is still a good buy for the fans of James LaBrie, Dream Theater and the like.

Release date: March 29th, 2005 (Europe) and April 5th, 2005 (US)

Visit Artist's Website

- MAGE (March 7th, 2005)


LaBrie, James: Vocals
Sfogli, Marco: Guitar
Mangini, Mike: Drums
Beller, Bryan: Bass
Guillory, Matt: Keyboards
Producer: Unavailable
Mixing by: Unavailable
Mastering by: Unavailable
LaBrie, James - Elements of Persuasion  CD  Cover Image
01. Crucify
02. Alone
03. Freak
04. Invisible
05. Lost
06. Undecided
07. Smashed
08. Pretender
09. Slightly Out of Reach
10. Oblivious
11. In Too Deep
12. Drained

Length: 66:48
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