For this third solo album, Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie enlisted the backing crew of writer/ keyboardist Matt Guillory, writer Brain Wherry, bassist Bryan Beller, drummer Mike Mangini and guita

For this third solo album, Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie enlisted the backing crew of writer/ keyboardist Matt Guillory, writer Brain Wherry, bassist Bryan Beller, drummer Mike Mangini and guitarist Marco Sfogli. On first listen, because of the players' precision (every note is perfectly measured and placed) and familiar songwriting licks, the set sounds like "Images and Words"-era Dream Theater, albeit with less complexity. It delves into early Metallica on the take-no-prisoners "Crucify" and "Freaks." Here, LaBrie doesn't let his voice soar (as he does with Dream Theater); that said, his more emotional delivery is inviting, particularly on "Smashed." Electronic elements, like the scratching and vocal distortions on "Alone," help make the set palatable. Its many enjoyable tunes include alternative contemporary track "Lost." Programmed and real percussion carry the sorrowful "Smashed"—a clever trick, considering that they seem to be arranged to convey a gentle mood instead of a beat.—CLT

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