James LaBrie – Static Impulse

By Jason Wellwood

Static Impulse is a weird record to put under the James LaBrie moniker. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but the overall feel of the album is one of a band, not of a solo artist with some hired guns. The writing partnership between James Labrie and Matt Guillory (Dali’s Dilemma, Mullmuzzler) had definitely progressed since the last James Labrie record. Fans of Labrie’s work with Dream Theater (and definitely with Winter Rose) may be a little shocked at some parts of this record which leans pretty heavily on the metalcore end of things at points. Admittedly, the metalcore feel does come from the screamed vocals courtesy of drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane), but I’d defend their use on this record. They give a nice juxtaposition to LaBrie’s very recognizable, clear, voice.

Fans of LaBrie’s other projects need not dismay though as there is plenty of guitar soloing (the solo in ‘Jekyll or Hyde’ is a stand out for sure) and it’s very keyboard heavy. ‘Euphoric’ turns the listener back towards more what you’d expect from a James LaBrie solo record, lush keyboards, powerful singing and a terrific guitar solo. ‘This Is War’ is a barn burner of a track, not that it wouldn’t be with a title like that. There is plenty of back and forth with the vocals, easily the most intense track on the record and maybe my favourite. The band keeps the songs short and to the point, also helping to keep the prog feel down a little and maybe even helps the underlying feeling that there is some serious pop music love in this band. The longest rack on the album being just over 5 minutes and even then the song feels just right. ‘Coming Home’ is the ballad that closes off the album and displays what the rest of the album hints at: James LaBrie has a love for pop music as well.

Static Impulse was definitely crafted very carefully; there is an attention to detail that many bands these days (and more so artists putting out solo records to stretch from their band a little) just don’t get. Again, the album sounds like it was recorded by a band, the song writing is excellent and all the musicians put in a terrific performance. Labrie and Guillory have definitely outdone themselves this time.

(Inside Out)

Rating: 8.5

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.