Erstwhile DREAM THEATER vocalist, the absurdly talented James LaBrie, has taken the chance to release yet another solo album, his third and on this occasion ‘’Elements Of Persuasion’’ has been graced with his own name instead of the two previous efforts that bore the MULLMUZZLER moniker. Although I am a fairly active Progressive Rock/ Metal fan these days DREAM THEATER has never been by first Prog stop and never having heard the previous two LaBrie solo efforts I have a fairly unbiased view of this latest release.
First off this isn’t one for those that find distraction an easy thing to come by. Of the twelve songs only one dips under three minutes the rest over five minutes and although Prog is based on foundations of long epic and technical demanding opuses it would be nice to have LABRIE maybe inject a little more pace and energy across this sprawling mass of hard edge driving riffs, swirling keyboards and kept the songs shorter and more compact. The sound is instantly recognisable DREAM THEATER (could it be anything else?) but perhaps a bit heavier. A direction I believe the band are taking these days. Opener ‘’Crucify’’, ‘’Alone’’ and ‘’Freak’’ still contain the Prog Metal edge but also sound like later day MEGADETH and ICED EARTH what with the triplet riffing and pounding drums. From then on it’s much as you’d expect. ‘’Invicible’’ is just DREAM THEATER. ‘’Pretender’’ cranks up the Metal factor with a great riff but it’s hardly ground breaking stuff. However the simple brilliance of ‘’Lost’’ showcasing LaBrie’s excellent voice is an appreciated diversion from the norm as is ‘’Smashed’’ and ‘’Slightly Out Of Reach’’ Songs that mark a stark contrast to the Metal attack that is prominent throughout the album.
At times inspiring at times long winded and over cooked. That’s Prog Metal for you I’m afraid. Whether or not you’ve got the patience to digest the maelstrom of ideas going on here will depend on your views of Prog Metal. If you’re a fan you’ll lap this up as they don’t come much bigger or better than LaBrie but casual observers will be left somewhat wanting and bewildered. (Online June 18, 2005)