This commentary almost did not get written, but it did. James Labrie's (Dream Theater) latest Static Impulse almost got panned, and badly. It seems, as many artists and bands are doing these days, Mr. LaBrie decided to capitulate to modern metal/rock trends by importing hardcore/death vocals into his newest solo project. Honestly, I had to scratch my head (and hold my stomach down) when listening to the first two tracks One More Time and Jekyll or Hyde. Significant growling death vocals erupted in my ears, done by drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane). LaBrie is one of the very best, most expressive and versatile, rock/metal vocalists in recent years, so I was almost sure it wasn't him doing the death vocals. However, knowing his style I found the inclusion rather odd.
Yet Labrie admits this modern intention saying Static Impulse is "Gothenburg metal with some progressive elements. To me itīs a heavy rock contemporary metal sounding album." You will certainly hear all that on this work. However, Labrie is about 15 years late to the whole 'Gothengrowl' thing. The aforementioned songs and also Just Watch Me, while intrinsically well-composed, are poisoned by those grumpy growls, simply because they are so present, and therefore overwhelming. Conversely, on I Need You and Who You Think I Am, the addition is more subtle, as accent and well-worked. (But necessary? I'm doubtful.)
Forgiving the use of the harsh vocals, LaBrie is still in his finest form, and there are some terrific songs on this 'mod' disc. Mislead, Euphoric, Coming Home, and the absolutely delightful I Tried and Coming Home, show Mr. LaBrie's superior and enviable vocal skill. Backed by longtime creative partner and keyboarder Matt Guillory, Static Impulse offers some of LaBrie's best work. If you are willing to both forgive and accept, and the more I listen the more I can, his excursions into modern avenues, then Static Impulse is his most progressive work to date. Recommended.
If you are willing to both forgive and accept, and the more I listen the more I can, his excursions into modern motifs by including hardcore/death vocals, then Static Impulse is James LaBrie's most progressive work to date.