Released: 2013, Inside Out Music
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The third solo outing from Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie – or fifth, if you count the two MullMuzzer albums he spearheaded and which utilized many the same players – picks up right where he left off with 2010’s Static Impulse, which offered a more consistent contemporary metal sound and pushed the earlier progressive and electronic elements to the periphery.
With Impermanent Resonance, the sound morphs even more into something closer to melodic, Euro-style death/thrash metal, courtesy, no doubt, of the participation once again by Darkane drummer Peter Wildoer – who also provides the “bad cop” growled vocals here – and ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers, who contributes in the guitar playing and songwriting departments.
The album opens briskly with “Agony,” “Undertow” and “Slight Of Hand,” all of which would sound right at home on a Soilwork or Mnemic album with their roughshod, though catchy guitaring, bracing rhythms and Wildoer and LaBrie's vocal tradeoffs. “Letting Go” kicks things back into gear midway through after things bog down a bit in anthemics – though the resplendent “Back On The Ground” is quite awesome – and “I Will Not Break” rips and roars rather nicely at the end.
This approach delivers the sort of punch on the nose you almost never get from Dream Theater's drawn out wankery. And there is nothing wanky about Resonsance. LaBrie is nothing but a team player here, not using this as a vocal showcase nor being selfish when it comes to songwriting – as Wichers' involvement would indicate. Indeed, as on Static, he may be too generous.
Though not as prominent as they were last time, Wildoer's guttural counterpoint to LaBrie's typically sparkling voice seem rather unnecessary, given the grittier musical accompaniment here. “I Got You” works just fine without the gruff voice and certainly doesn't lose much bite, despite its more pronounced keyboards. And when the growling does pop up at the end, it feels like an intrusion. The more traditional background vocal treatment on, say, “Destined To Burn” is much more effective, not to mention enjoyable.