James LaBrie
Static Impulse


4.5
superb

Review

by lak89 USER (12 Reviews)
February 29th, 2012 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Labrie and co. drop most of the electronic and progressive elements that were heard on Elements of Persuasion and adopt a more straightforward metal approach on Static Impulse.

The well-known front man of Dream Theater has released his second solo album (under his name), citing a need for a creative outlet as a result of being underutilized in DT and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Those who are familiar with his previous solo effort Elements of Persuasion will be in for a surprise here.

While electronic and progressive elements dominated Elements of Persuasion, for this album, Labrie and co. have dropped most of those elements in favor of a more straightforward metal approach, drawing influences from Melodic Death Metal with the use of harsh vocals, provided by drummer Peter Wildoer of Darkane, it is he who provides some of the more interesting elements in this album. Wildoer is an exceptionally talented and underrated drummer, he is one of the highlights of the album, being able to reign it in and lay down a solid rhythmic foundation for the band as well as utilizing blast beats for musical intensity, notably in "Mislead" and "This is War". He also plays some very technical fills in several songs here and there, it is no surprise he was one of the seven drummers lined up to audition for the new drummer position in DT, and one of the three SERIOUSLY considered in filling the huge void Mike Portnoy has left behind, despite being the dark horse of the seven candidates, he has made a lasting impression.

Labrie is arguably the weakest link in Dream Theater, while a very good vocalist himself, he is simply overshadowed by the other 4 members who are wizards on their respective instruments. On Static Impulse (and Elements of Persuasion), he is no slouch at all and really demonstrates his songwriting and vocal talents, it is a shame that he is underutilized in his main band. He encompasses several vocal styles in the album, his vocals are powerful and particularly soar high and gracefully with melody in songs like "One More Time" "Over The Edge" "Mislead" and "This is War", they are more gritty when they call for it in "I Need You" and "Who You Think I Am" and more mellow in "Euphoric" and "Just Watch Me". He gives his most heartfelt and intimate performance in the closing ballad "Coming Home". Lyrically, he deals with government, relationships, family and personal outlooks.

While Wildoer is the drummer on this album, he's also had a huge impact on the vocal melodies on the album, providing harsh co-lead vocals on some songs with Labrie, accentuating the messages in the lyrics when they call for it in songs like "Mislead" "Jekyll Or Hyde", sometimes even taking (screaming) entire verses with Labrie only singing the chorus. A good example of this is "One More Time" and "This is War". The clean/harsh vocal interplay between Labrie and Wildoer is a standout element of the album and is done very well.

Marco Sfogli truly shines as a guitar player, "EOP" served more of an introduction to him but his full talent is unleashed on "SI", he is an impressive shredder and capable of writing heavy and tasteful riffs, especially in the intro to "Over The Edge", his soloing is especially impressive on the album, another one of his highlights is the melodic guitar/keyboard unison with Guillory in the aforementioned song.

Matt Guillory provides keyboards and backing vocals (on SI) and is Labrie's "partner in crime", having co-wrote all the songs with him. While he has had a huge impact composition-wise, his actual playing on the album is quite restrained for someone who was so heavily involved. He mainly provides background keys and occasionally gets a few moments to shine in the form of keyboard solos and unisons with Sfogli. It is clear he is a proficient keyboard player, but I'd like to hear more of him on the next album. He is also a capable vocalist, having sang lead vocals on the demo versions of the songs, while certainly not the vocalist Labrie is, he has his own personal flair and does a good job providing backing vocals on this album. Ray Riendeau played bass on the album, he is more in the background and as such I can't really comment on him much, but he gets his moments to shine in the form of short bass solos/fills on "One More Time" and "Just Watch Me", I hope to hear more of him as well in the next album.

SI is an adventurous outing that may divide listeners, some may say that Wildoer’s harsh vocals are “unneeded” or totally “uncharacteristic” of a James Labrie album, while others may welcome the addition of harsh vocals, and say it’s a good thing that Labrie and co. are expanding their musical influences. They have crafted a metal album that will satisfy most metal fans, DT fans will find not find the instrumentation lacking in any way and Melodic Death Metal fans will welcome the heavier edge presented on this album. Either way, the addition of harsh vocals will continue to be a polarizing element for more picky listeners.

Labrie has announced a few weeks ago that he will be starting work on his third solo album, which meant Static Impulse was very successful even though plans to tour in support of the album failed. These musicians clearly have a musical chemistry, and from watching the Static Impulse recording sessions (they are available on youtube), it is obvious these guys have a great time working with each other. So, a new album, why not?



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user ratings (86)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
lak89
February 29th 2012


183 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my first review for the site, so do tell me if anything needs improvement. Thanks guys!

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 29th 2012


6339 Comments


and the results are nothing short of spectacular

and the outcome is nothing short of spectacular


While electronic and progressive elements dominated Elements of Persuasion, for this album, Labrie and co. have dropped most of those elements in favor of a more straightforward metal approach, drawing influences from Melodic Death Metal with the use of harsh vocals, provided by drummer Peter Wildoer of Darkane, it is he who provides some of the more interesting elements in this album

Run-on sentence. Split it in pieces, in order to read better.

In Elements of Persuasion, progressive and electronica elements dominated. In this album though, Labrie and co. have strayed to a more straightforward metal approach, drawing influences from Melodic Death Metal. Peter Wildoer is the main responsible for the latter elements. Not only he excels behind his drum kit, but he contributes a handful of harsh vocals as well, which are excellently combined along with those coming from La Brie.

Wildoer is an exceptionally talented and underrated drummer, he is one of the highlights of the album, being able to reign it in and lay down a solid rhythmic foundation for the band as well as utilizing blast beats for musical intensity, notably in "Mislead" and "This is War". He also plays some very technical fills in several songs here and there, it is no surprise he was one of the seven drummers lined up to audition for the new drummer position in DT, and one of the three SERIOUSLY considered in filling the huge void Mike Portnoy has left behind, despite being the dark horse of the seven candidates, he has made a lasting impression.

While Wildoer is the drummer on this album, he's also had a huge impact on the vocal melodies on the album, providing harsh co-lead vocals on some songs with Labrie, accentuating the messages in the lyrics when they call for it in songs like "Mislead" "Jekyll Or Hyde", sometimes even taking (screaming) entire verses with Labrie only singing the chorus. A good example of this is "One More Time" and "This is War". The clean/harsh vocal interplay between Labrie and Wildoer is a standout element of the album and is done very well.

All this could be erased, the last paragraph included too, but that's just me.


SI

Static Impulse


good review, but try to say the same things, by writing less.

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

lak89
February 29th 2012


183 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. Yea I noticed my review was a little on the long side, I'll keep that in mind.

Funeralopolis
February 29th 2012


11892 Comments


this guy's name is dangerously close to a friend of mine's name

Digging: Owen Pallett - In Conflict

NeutralThunder12
February 29th 2012


8742 Comments


i want labrie to die forever

Jethro42
February 29th 2012


12627 Comments


jealous

bloc
February 29th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album's got some goodies

Parallels
February 29th 2012


6643 Comments


albums pretty good, One More Time is one of my favorite songs

KjSwantko
February 29th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is solid, but I perfer Elements of Persuasion much more. The ruggedness of that album was awesome.

sexpoi
March 1st 2012


599 Comments


I loved the instrumentation on this and the solos were fucking awesome but I have grown to super hate Labrie's voice. It is so grating although there are some tracks where his voice worked.

bloc
April 17th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The pre-chorus riff in Euphoric is sooooooooo good. Easily my favourite track by far.

Willie
Moderator
April 17th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

This whole album rocks, but 'Mislead' is my favorite.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

KjSwantko
April 17th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is good but not as enjoyable as Elements of Persuasion IMO. Was Marco Sfogli the guitar player on this one too?

bloc
April 17th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, he did both rhythm and lead.

KjSwantko
April 17th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice, I'm gonna have to give this another spin.

Willie
Moderator
April 17th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

They're both good albums, but also very different, so it's hard to compare.

KjSwantko
April 17th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely, Elements was really raw-sounding, whereas this shows progression and is more dynamic. The simplicity of Elements gets me though.

peartnoy
January 29th 2013


1228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Both are great to me.

NightmareCinema16
May 19th 2013


2016 Comments


This was a shocker for me.

tempest--
May 19th 2013


14620 Comments


Woah, I haven't listened to this in ages!
Gotta jam again soon.



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