James LaBrie’s new EP I Will Not Break is the first great EP of 2014. The Dream Theater singer’s new release follows up the release of his most recent full length solo album, Impermanent Resonance (2013)—his sixth full length solo release overall. LaBrie’s new EP will impress audiences right off the bat thanks to the inclusion of its title track. The track in question comes right from Impermanent Resonance. That’s not all that audiences will appreciate from this record. Just as worthy of applause from LaBrie’s new EP, is the inclusion of ‘Why’, which also closes out Impermanent Resonance. So fans are offered some level of familiarity on this new EP, as is evidenced already. That familiarity isn’t all that will impress audiences. I Will Not Break closes out with a trio of remixes of songs from Impermanent Resonance. The final piece in that trio, ‘Euphoric’, is perhaps the best of the three. And it is also a fitting closer for this recent release. As with any EP or LP, the songs presented are just part of what makes the presentation in whole worth hearing. LaBrie’s new EP boasts a total of nine tracks. That leaves six others that are enjoyable in their own way. And for anyone that is a fan of James LaBrie or even Dream Theater, I Will Not Break is a welcome addition to said individuals’ personal music collections.
I Will Not Break opens with its namesake song. And for those that might perhaps be unfamiliar with James LaBrie’s work both by himself and with his band mates in Dream Theater, this song—the EP’s title track—is one heck of a first impression. Those that are more familiar with LaBrie’s body of work will attest to the fact that the ferocity in this song as a whole is nothing new for him. This applies both to the song’s musical side and that of its lyrics. The song opens gradually, growing with echoes of its chorus until its first full powered notes from guitarist and drummer Marco Sfogli and Peter Wildoer. Those first notes let audiences know that they are in for one heck of a ride. Put simply, there’s almost a sort of Swedish metal influence in the pair’s performance. LaBrie’s semi-social commentary in the song’s lyrical side compliments that intensity quite well. He sings in the song’s chorus, “So let them take/All that they can/Each one of them/I will not break/Now I have to walk/Have to walk away/Never seem to fit/Most of the time/I’ll be better off/Better off this way/And taking back what’s mine.” Keyboardist Matt Guillory’s guttural screams of “We’re taking it back” seal the deal so to speak. The defiant stance taken in the song’s lyrics perfectly compliment the power in the song’s musical side. In the end, listeners will understand with both sides combined why this song was chosen as the EP’s opener. They will also agree that including this song was just as wise a choice. It wasn’t the only wise choice, though. Just as wise a choice for inclusion on I Will Not Break was ‘Why.’
‘Why’ closes out James LaBrie’s most recent album. Much like the EP’s title track, LaBrie and his band mates come together to make a song that at least on its musical side, bears a striking Swedish metal influence. That famed “Gothenberg influence” is just as impressive here as it is in the EP’s opener. The irony here though, is that it doesn’t necessarily match up with the song’s lyrical content. ‘Why’ comes across as a song rooted deeply in personal relationship issues. LaBrie sings in this song, “But here we are/Lost in the dark/So tell me why/Why are we wasting our time/Are we that scared of goodbye/That we’d rather/Be living a lie/Tell me why/Can’t we move on with our lives.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this song’s lyrical and musical sides seem somewhat askew for lack of better wording. In fact, the two different emotional states exhibited by the song’s music and lyrics make the song all the more interesting to take in. It’s for that reason that this song being included in I Will Not Break was another wise choice for LaBrie.
The inclusion of a pair of originals from Impermanent Resonance was definitely a wise choice for this new release. The most surprisingly wise choice made for this EP is its closer. LaBrie closes out with an interesting re-mix of ‘Euphoric’, which was also included in said album. This was a wise choice as it is the polar opposite of ‘Why.’ Whereas ‘Why’ was a piece seemingly centered on personal relationship issues, ‘Euphoric’ presents the happier side of personal relationships. LaBrie sings in the original song, “Tired of bumming the streets alone/No relationships/On my own/Forgot what it was like/’Til she/’Til this lovely girl/She touched me.” The re-worked version takes pieces of the song’s chorus, with LaBrie singing, “I never felt/Euphoric so high/You got me/I’m yours/A spell on me/Look forward to seeing you.” So the same sentiment is exhibited in this NeonGenesis re-mix of ‘Euphoric.’ What makes this re-mix stand out is its electronica and dubstep elements. Most audiences wouldn’t equate such upbeat lyrics with the sound crafted for this re-mix. But somehow it works. And the two sides together make it a solid re-mix and equally solid closer for I Won’t Break. Together with the already noted songs—and those not noted—it serves as more proof of why I Won’t Break is the first great EP of 2014. It is available now in stores and online. More information on I Won’t Break and all of the latest news and more from James LaBrie is available online at http://www.facebook.com/officialjameslabrie and http://www.jameslabrie.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.