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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

James LaBrie

Impermanent Resonance

Review by Gary Hill

In a lot of ways this makes me think of Dream Theater. Of course, when you’ve got heavy, progressive music with James LaBrie singing, that makes sense. This tends a lot of the time toward more pure metal, though. Some of that comes from some extreme metal vocals. I’m not a big fan of that kind of thing, but for the most part it works all right here. There is always enough prog on hand to keep this landing under metal, though. I’d have to say that while every song here is quite good, after a while some of it tends to be too similar. That really only gets problematic near the end of the set, though. Overall, this is quite a strong album that should be of interest to Dream Theater fans in particular, but also to any fans of heavy, progressive music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Agony

This powers out with a killer groove that’s quite metallic. While I really like the combination of metal sounds combined with more pure progressive rock ones, I’m not overly crazy about the death metal styled vocals that are counter-pointed with LaBrie’s singing. The drop down to mellow music is quite nice.

Undertow
The same basic combination of sounds is heard here, and the driving riff is equally tasty. The more extreme metal vocals are a lot easier to take than those on the opener. There’s almost an electronic dance music vibe to some of the keyboard sounds and the drop back here. In a lot of ways this feels like a Dream Theater song.
Slight of Hand
Although there is still a lot of metal in this, there are big helpings of that electronic dance kind of music here. This is another killer tune that combines very metallic sounds (and some extreme metal vocals) with the more Dream Theater like hard rocking melodic modern progressive rock. The ballad-like section in the middle of the track is cool and the guitar solo based instrumental movement that follows is awesome.
Back on the Ground

This starts with a prog ballad kind of approach for the first verse. It powers up from there with some much harder music, but it doesn’t reach towards metal as the other tunes have. It drops to a return to the more melodic prog for the next verse after that powered up chorus.

I Got You

Starting with more melodic progressive rock sounds, this works out to one of the catchiest jams of the set. In fact, I’d say this is my favorite cut here. The hook is great and the whole piece just really works especially well.

Holding On

The section that opens this has the electronic music vibe to it. The thing powers out to more typical music. It’s got a cool driving riff and LaBrie’s vocal performance is particularly noteworthy. The keyboard dominated drop down section later is nice, but the rather fusion-like solo that follows is awesome.

Lost in the Fire
Opening with a mellower, more melodic section, this pounds out into another hard rocking progressive rock arrangement. It’s one of the more accessible pieces here and has a nice balance between mellower and harder rocking movements. I really like this one a lot. It’s another highlight of the album.
Letting Go
There is definitely a dance music kind of vibe to the opening here. It powers out into some seriously metallic territory from there, though. There are more of those extreme metal vocals at times on this. It’s definitely one of the more purely metal pieces on show, but it’s got some great hooks and some cool musical moments.
Destined to Burn

The heavy riff driving this is cool. There are some great mellow sections built into the cut. The vocal hook is quite catchy. All in all, that adds up to another interesting song that works quite well. I particularly like the melodic guitar soloing.

Say You're Still Mine

I love this song. It’s probably my favorite here. It starts with a piano based ballad approach and that section holds quite a bit of the song. It does get powered up to a harder rocking jam that combines typical Dream Theater kind of sounds with something a bit like European epic metal. I guess you could call this a power ballad, really. Whatever you label it, though, I call it “great!”

Amnesia
The fiery riff that drives the harder rocking sections here is killer. Those sections, though, are alternated by keyboard based melodic segments. There are other sections that land somewhere in between those extremes. The vocal hook is great. This is another smoking hot tune. It’s another highlight of an album with no shortage of highlights.
I Will Not Break

This one is one of the more metal tunes. It’s got some melodic hooks, though. It’s not one of the stronger cuts here, though. It’s not bad. It just doesn’t stand up to the same level as the rest of this.

Unraveling

This is the first of two bonus tracks for the Limited Edition of the CD. I love the mellower, prog ballad sections. It gets powered up in a more hook laden Dream Theater type sound with some definite metallic edge. It’s another strong piece.

Why

In a lot of ways this feels like Dream Theater. It also feels a bit too much like the rest of the album. This is one with more of those extreme metal vocals. Personally, I don’t think it’s all that great. In fact, I think it’s just not unique enough to really stand out.

 
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