JAMES LABRIE – Elements Of Persuasion

JAMES LABRIE - Elements Of Persuasion


InsideOut Music/SPV
Release date: March 29, 2005

Guitars: A
Bass: B
Percussion: B
Keyboards: B
Vocals: A
Lyrics: A
Recording Quality: A
Originality: A-
Overall Rating: B+

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Dropping the Mullmuzzler handle, Elements Of Persuasion represents Kevin James LaBrie’s first solo album under his own name. Possibly suffering through a ruptured vocal chord bout and eclipsing the 40-year old milestone caused LaBrie to remove any/all veils and to “go natural,” so to speak, by finally attaching his actual name to his solo work. Regardless of the reason, the world of Progressive Metal should surely welcome LaBrie’s latest release with open arms.

In Elements Of Persuasion, LaBrie comes out with all guns blazing, creating, with a few Jazzy exceptions in the middle of the album, his heaviest effort yet. One of the surefire positive traits of virtually all Progressive Metal albums is stellar production quality, and this release certainly benefits from the best recording techniques available today … but in the end, even crystal clear sound, razor sharp channel separation, and inquisitive sound tricks can’t disguise poor songwriting and/or weak musicianship. Not to worry, though, because this new LaBrie release excels in both categories.

The “heaviness” of this album starts with LaBrie’s godsend find in Italian guitarist Marco Sfogli. Somewhat of an unknown prior to this record, this guy simply ROCKS! His riffs and solos and inspired attitude throughout each song of this CD is nothing short of “fresh,” if not remarkable. All of the songs are well-written and lyrically thoughtful compositions generated in tandem by LaBrie and keyboardist Matt Guillory, but it’s Sfogli’s playing that adds life and personality to this Elements of Persuasion CD. After listening to just the first 4 tracks of this CD, “Crucify,” “Alone,” “Freak,” and “Invisible,” you’re sure to be sold on this guy, and his style definitely benefits from the aforementioned production quality of this recording.

Rendering an outstanding performance too is LaBrie himself at the microphone. Trained and nurtured as a vocalist since his youth, LaBrie, without a doubt, has earned the right over time to be grouped in the upper echelon of vocalists in all of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and his talents don’t disappoint at any stretch within this album. LaBrie flows from low to high notes effortlessly and with rare grace and artistic quality compared to many of his Metal peers. Topically, most of the songs often deal with the “give and take” aspect of relationships, along with periodic religious strife themes. From top to bottom, the lyrics on these 12 tracks are each well-scripted … after all, seldom at any point in LaBrie’s career, if ever, have half-assed lyrical efforts been served up … but the tone is maybe a tad too melancholic to perfectly mesh seamlessly with the power behind the music in many of the songs. Perhaps a more upbeat and positive lyrical flavor would have better suited this album’s dazzling sound and musical structure. That, and LaBrie’s choice to shift gears and fold in a few Jazzy/Non-Heavy Sounding tracks in “Lost,” “Smashed,” and “Slightly Out Of Reach” as middle cuts, thus somewhat breaking the totally successful heavy vibe created at the onset of the album (which is thankfully resurrected at the end of the album too), are the only flaws within Elements Of Persuasion. Not to confuse, these change up tracks are quality tunes too, in and of themselves, but they just seem a bit out of place on this release.

Overall, though, LaBrie has delivered a product that may contain some of the best material he has ever been associated with … Dream Theater, solo, or otherwise. The sound is spectacular, the musical attitude is fresh and largely aggressive, and the work is cerebral as a whole. Certainly this release will be regarded as one of the top Progressive Metal releases of 2005 … do yourself a favor and pick up a copy!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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