James LaBrie

Mullmuzzler 2

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With this 2001 release, Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie follows up his relatively successful 1999 solo effort, Keep It to Yourself. Once again, the vocalist garners support from guitarist Mike Keneally -- along with Magna Carta's roster keyboardist, Trent Gardner, and others -- for this progressive/hard rock outing brought by the band known as Mullmuzzler. As one might expect, LaBrie delivers the goods in a rather powerful and at times commanding fashion amid the band's often-thunderous rhythms, scorching guitars, and textural synths. Essentially, LaBrie projects his voice rather well atop a series of straight-four rockers, odd-metered excursions, and keyboardist Matt Guillory's delicately rendered motifs, whether performing on acoustic piano or electric keys. Thus, soloing is kept to a minimum here, yet midway through this production a sense of invariability hovers over the proceedings, largely due to the unwavering flow and disproportionate similarities of these compositions. However, the band does eventually deviate from the plan a bit, as they delve into acoustic/electric interludes in conjunction with LaBrie's heartfelt balladry and some memorably melodic hooks provided by Guillory. Otherwise, it may be prudent to suggest that the final moments do not compensate for a lack of strong material.

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