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James LaBrie`s Mullmuzzler
September 2001
Released: 2001, Magna Carta
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Rick

James LaBrie of Dream Theater fame has just released the follow up to his first Mullmuzzler CD called "Keep It To Yourself". First of all, anyone expecting something "Loud, Fast and Thrashin" better think again? LaBries has released an album of 10 tracks of, he calls "remarkably torrid ballads, traditional grinding prog metal and buoyant post prog". There is a remarkable diversity in the 10 tracks as LaBrie tries to distance himself somewhat from his main meal ticket Dream Theater while at the same time trying not to alienate those who will tune into this CD because of his affiliation with that band. LaBrie is joined on the CD by Matt Guillory (Dali’s Dilemma): keyboards, Trent Gardner (Magellan): keyboards, Mike Mangini: drums, Mike Keneally: guitar, Mike Borkosky: guitar and Brian Beller: bass.

Trent Gardner helps out LaBrie on the first track "Afterlife". Gardner helped Labrie write this tune which is one of the more traditional prog rock song with a funky rhythm section. Kinda reminds me of RUSH for some reason. "Venice Burning" is bit more rock oriented and is the first song in a two part story of a father whose son has been molested by the man’s best friend. He kills his best friend and ends up in prison but realizes that he has made his son’s life worse because now he has lost his father too. The song is one of the better tracks on the CD. The second part of the story is found in the track "Confronting the Devil". LaBrie wanted this song to have a definite rock feel in the vein of Led Zeppelin. It succeeds and is in and of itself a good song. LaBrie also has a couple of ballads and on the CD. "Falling" is the first and deals with relationships. It’s a simple catchy song that sticks in your head. It is not a true ballad in the slow syrupy sweet sense of the word as it is a mid tempo track but it fits the bill. A highlight of the CD. "Believe" is the quintessential slow ballad. LaBries voice is front and center on this track as there is only minimal instrumentation and he pulls it off perfectly.

This CD is quite different than LaBrie’s regular gig in Dream Theater. He colours the songs as he sees fit. Everything doesn’t have to be a singular style. He incorporates funky rhythmic tunes alongside his straight ahead rockers and ballads to create an interesting CD that shows that he has more to offer than just his vocal abilities. Check out more on Mullmuzzler at
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