LaBrie’s Latest Is The First Great EP Of 2014

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

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.

James LaBrie To Release New EP

James LaBrie I Will Not Break EP

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Dream Theater front man James LaBrie has announced that he will release a new digital-only EP this month.  The new EP, titled I Will Not Break will be released on January 14th via InsideOut Music in North America.  The near forty-minute EP—its total run time clocks in at thirty-eight minutes—is comprised of nine tracks.  Those tracks are listed below.

JAMES LABRIE – “I Will Not Break” Digital EP (38:03)

1. I Will Not Break (3:52)

2. Unraveling (3:31)

3. Why (3:45)

4. Coming Home (Alternate Mix) (4:23)

5. Jekyll Or Hyde (Demo) (3:48)

6. Just Watch Me (Demo) (4:17)

7. I Tried (Jason Miller Re-mix) (5:13)

8. Over The Edge (Mutrix Re-mix) (4:33)

9. Euphoric (NeonGenesis Re-mix) (4:41)

The EP opens with its title track, which is also the album version of the song taken from LaBrie’s previously released full length solo record, Impermanent Resonance.  ‘Unraveling’ and ‘Why’ were available exclusively as bonus tracks on that album’s digipack edition.  The same applies to ‘Coming Home’, ‘Jekyll or Hyde’ and ‘Just Watch.’  The first of these songs is an alternate mix of the song that appears on Impermanent Resonance, while ‘Jekyll or Hyde’ and ‘Just Watch Me’ are early demos that present where those songs began as compared to the final product on LaBrie’s solo record.  They were previously only available on the Japanese and Digipack edition of another of LaBrie’s 2010 solo record, Static Impulse.  The EP’s last three tracks are electronica/dub-step remixes of songs from Static Impulse.  ‘I Tried’ was only available on that album’s Japanese edition before now.

The cover art for LaBrie’s new EP was conceived by artist Gustavo Sazes, who also also done artwork for Arch Enemy, Kamelot, and others.  He also previously created the artwork for Impermanent Resonance.

James himself recently shared his thoughts on his new EP.  He explains what fans have to look forward to with the new release.

“Hey Everyone! Matt, Marco, Peter, Ray and yours truly are very pleased to release this digital EP. It will show some of the songs with alternate mixes as well as letting you hear Matt’s exceptional voice with some of the songs in their demo versions. We also had 3 of the songs mixed in dub step stylings to give them a somewhat interesting flavour and twist. Hope you all enjoy this release, I personally think it is very cool. All the best in the New Year and see you out there….”

Audiences can pre-order I Will Not Break now online at http://smarturl.it/jlb_iwillbreak.  And after ordering his new EP, fans can check out the static video for the EP’s title track via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj8aAo3O06E&feature=youtu.be&utm_source=JAMES+LABRIE+-+To+release+%22I+Will+Not+Break%22+Digital-EP+in+January%3B+Launch+title&utm_campaign=james+labrie+i+will+not+break&utm_medium=email.  More information on the latest 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.

Dream Theater At Its Peak In Its New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

New York based veteran prog-rock band Dream Theater has been creating music for well over two decades.  To be more exact, almost twenty-five years have passed since the band’s debut album When Dream and Day Unite was originally released.  That release saw Charlie Dominici on vocals, with then drummer and keyboardist Mike Portnoy and Kevin Moore and founding members John Petrucci and John Myung on guitar and bass.  Dream Theater has seen a number of lineup changes since then.  Dominici was replaced with James LaBrie, who still fronts the band today.  Kevin Moore was replaced by Derek Sherinian and then later by current keyboardist Jordan Rudess.  And Mike Portnoy has also since left for greener pastures and been replaced by Mike Mangini, giving audiences the band’s current lineup.  What does this have to do with anything one might ask.  It has everything to do with everything.  As audiences will see in the band’s brand new live recording, Live at Luna Park, DT has never sounded better than it does with its most current lineup.  This latest live release is Dream Theater at its peak.  That is the first thing that audiences and fans will take away from LALP (as it will henceforth be known).  Longtime fans will also appreciate that while the term “career-spanning” isn’t bandied about for this recording, it is a justified term in this case.  This is the case despite the fact that not all of the band’s albums are represented in this concert.  And those with HDTVs and home theater surround sound systems will appreciate the overall sound and video mix throughout the concert.  They are the icing on the cake of this recording and together with the aforementioned elements, make LALP one more example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to lead the pack in the world of live recordings.

The very first thing that audiences will notice about LALP is that this recording presents Dream Theater at its collective best.  Longtime fans of the band will agree with this sentiment, too.  No disrespect is meant to any of the band’s now former members.  But there is a certain something about the band in this concert that feels different from any of the band’s previous live recordings. It feels like the band has a whole new energy about it.  There’s no denying the talents of the band’s former (and founding) member, Mike Portnoy.  He is still one of the best drummers in the industry today.  But watching Mike Mangini behind his kit, there’s also no denying that Mangini is right up there with Portnoy in terms of his abilities.  Watching him perform his crossover maneuvers and reach up above himself to play his rototoms without missing a beat is breathtaking to say the least.  Getting to see him perform from so many angles makes that experience even more awe-inspiring.  It’s enough to make one question could Mangini in fact be even better than Portnoy?  That’s a topic for another time.  Getting back on topic, keyboardist Jordan Rudess more than lives up to the moniker of being a keyboard wizard, as audiences will both see and hear throughout the concert.  Just as much awe is felt watching bassist John Myung as he works his way through each of the numbers in this performance.  It’s obvious in watching this recording why Mynug has maintained the nickname of “The Octopus” throughout his career with Dream Theater.  One would be remiss to omit any mention of guitarist and vocalist John Petrucci and James LaBrie.  They too prove that they still have plenty left in the tank.  LaBrie is still a vocal powerhouse to this day.  And Petrucci can still shred with the best of them.  What’s more, he looks like he has seriously bulked up.  Put a mask on him, and he could be mistaken for Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson.

It’s obvious in watching LALP that Dream Theater is at the top of its game right now.  If the band were to call it a career right now, then the musicianship of the band’s members alone would be a fitting immortalization of the band in this recording.  It’s not the only aspect of the recording to which audiences have to look forward.  Fans will also appreciate the extensive set list.  While this performance doesn’t necessarily cover the band’s entire catalogue, it does quite the job of representing most of the band’s albums.  That being the case, it’s safe to use the term career-spanning here.  Audiences will each have their own favorite moments from this concert.  This critic personally recommends the band’s original take on ‘The Silent Man’ for starters, off of the band’s 1994 album Awake as a starting point.  The string accompanists make the song even richer than the already impressive take included on the album.  On the heavier side, ‘Pull Me Under’ was the perfect choice to close the show.  This is the song that broke Dream Theater out and truly introduced the band to the masses in 1992.  And ‘Caught in a Web’ is a good middle ground piece for audiences to take in.  This song also came from the band’s 1994 album, Awake.  It’s not too hard or light.  It’s a good, solid driving rock song.  And experiencing it being performed with the band’s current  shows once again that Dream Theater hasn’t lost any steam over the course of nearly twenty-five years.  It’s just one more aspect of a recording that is the perfect starting point for the band’s new fans and just as impressive for those that have followed the band from its earliest days.

The set list and the talent displayed by the band throughout this performance are incredible, to say the least.  Just as incredible and noteworthy are the audio and video mixes.  Home viewers are taken into even more depth with this recording than those in attendance got.  Thanks to the work of the camera crew and director Mike Leonard, viewers are taken up close and personal so to speak with the band.  They get to be the proverbial fly on the wall, watching keyboardist Jordan Rudess work his magic and drummer Mike Mangini do things with his two hands that don’t even seem humanly possible at every turn.  Mangini’s talents behind the kit will assuredly blow away every viewer, drummer or not.  That is thanks to his talents being so effectively captured by the show’s camera crew and director Leonard.  The side-by-side shots of Petrucci and Rudess are just as impressive.  They serve together to add even more to the overall amazing effect of the performance itself.  Not one shot is wasted.  Nor is any mic.  Those with HDTVs and surround sound home theater systems will get the most immersive experience of all with the show’s Blu-ray recording.  And even if one doesn’t own a surround sound system, the audio and video mix alongside the show’s set list and the amazing display of talent by the band will still impress audiences, regardless of how long they have been listening to the band.  And should the band put out another live recording in the future, it goes without saying that it is this same mix of elements that will make it tough for Dream Theater to top this recording.  It is definitely the band at its best.  And it’s available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  More information on this and other releases from Dream Theater as well as the band’s latest tour news and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial and http://www.dreamtheater.net.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dream Theater Launches New Translated Websites, Preps New Live Release

Courtesy:  MSO PR

Courtesy: MSO PR

Internationally renowned progressive rock band Dream Theater has launched brand new translated websites for its fans in four more countries.  The band has launched translated websites for fans in Argentina, Israel, Italy, and Venezuela.  Fans in each nation are the first of likely many more nations in bringing fans closer to the band by translating its news page into their own language.  The push for broadening the fans’ inclusion started during the band’s tour in South America.  Guitarist John Petrucci notes that many of the fans across the continent voiced the need for websites translated into their own language.  “Our efforts to further unite our online international community have only just begun,” he said.  “We are very fortunate to have so much incredible support and devotion from fans in many different countries around the world, and we hope that more and more fan communities will participate in this ongoing endeavor.  We look forward to hearing from fans interested in having the news page translated for their countries.”  Jordan Rudess (keyboards) added to Petrucci’s sentiment noting, “We are excited to be working with these first four fan sites, and can’t wait for others from around the world to reach out to us on Facebook.”

Anyone that is interested in working with Dream Theater to have the band’s news page translated for their country can contact the band online at http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial.  The band’s new translated news pages are just part of the band’s busy schedule.  Dream Theater’s new live release, Live at Luna Park is set to be released May 2013.  It will be released on a double-disc DVD set, Blu-ray, Digital Video, 2DVD/3CD set, Blu-ray/3CD set, and deluxe 2DVD/Blu-ray/3CD set.  Fans can check out the trailer for the upcoming live release online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NndiL9seZSI

Live at Luna Park was recorded over the course of two nights from the band’s South American tour.  Petrucci shared his thoughts on the upcoming release, exclaiming how excited he and the others in the band are about this live recording.  “This is without a doubt the closest a viewer at home will come to experiencing a live Dream Theater concert,” he said.  “Between the hi-def and 3D video, the huge audio mix and the documentary style behind the scenes footage, you are truly transported to the arena and completely immersed in the entire live experience.” 

To keep up with the latest news and more from Dream Theater, fans can go online to http://www.dreamtheater.net, http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial, and http://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

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.

Dream Theater Re-Signs With Roadrunner Records

Photo Credit:  Roadrunner Records

Photo Credit: Roadrunner Records

The members of veteran prog-rock band Dream Theater have re-signed with Roadrunner Records.  The announcement comes fresh off the heels of the band’s 2011 release, A Dramatic Turn of Events and supporting world tour—James Labrie (Vocals), Mike Mangini (drums), John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (Bass) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards).  The band released a statement regarding the re-signing.  “We are all very excited to be re-signing with Roadrunner Records!  Over the past 5 years, from the release of Systematic Chaos to our latest, A Dramatic Turn of Events, we’ve developed strong creative and professional bonds with everyone at Roadrunner as well as many great friendships along the way”, the band collectively noted. 

The band expanded on those relationships with Roadrunner Records, stating, “Roadrunner’s commitment and dedication to Dream Theater has been evident to all of us from the very beginning, and is consistent in all departments and on all levels, right on through to the top.  Roadrunner is a record label that is not only great at what they do but who truly understand what Dream theater is all about as well as the amazing people who support us all around the world whom we proudly call our fans.  They are a record company we relate to as an organization firmly rooted in its ideals and mission, while always pushing the envelope in an effort to keep things moving ever forward.  We’ve reached many career defining milestones while at Roadrunner and are all incredibly pumped in anticipation of our continued future together.”

Having re-signed with Roadrunner, Dream Theater is set to begin recording its new album in 2013.  While the band gets ready to record its new album, fans can follow the latest developments from the band online at http://.www.dreamtheater.net, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Theater/7677942180, http://twitter.com/DreamTheaterNet, and http://www.myspace.com/dreamtheater

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Beardfish’s New LP Another Sleeper Hit Of 2012

Inside Out Music USA/Century Media

Most music fans generally think of either Abba or extreme metal when thinking of Sweden.  However, Sweden has become increasingly associated with another sub genre of rock in recent years thanks to the likes of The Flower Kings.  The Flower Kings is just one band that is beginning to change audiences’ perception of music from Sweden.  On the heavier end of the prog spectrum is a band by the name of Beardfish.  Fans of Dream theater or its former drummer Mike Portnoy might recognize the name of Beardfish as he actually recently gave the band a shout out on his personal Facebook page.  He had quite the positive things to say of Beardfish.  And it’s no wonder why he had such good things to say.

Beardfish’s new album, “The Void” is an extensive prog-metal experience.  It opens somewhat abruptly with the narrator led ‘Introduction.’  But once it launches into ‘Voluntary Slavery’ listeners know they’re in for quite the hard rock experience.  The best comparison one can make with Beardfish on this album is to Tool. Vocalist Richard Sjoblom’s vocals are just as powerful as those of Tool front man Maynard James Kenan.  When the band launches into ‘Turn To Gravel’, audiences really get a taste of that vocal ability.  Strangely enough, there’s even a touch of Glen Danzig and James LaBrie in his voice here, too.  Sjoblom’s band mates get their chance to shine here, too. Guitarist David Zackrisson, drummer Magnus Ostgren and bassist Robert Hansen play like a well oiled machine throughout the song’s five and a half minute run time.    

Fans of Dream Theater will enjoy ‘This Matter of Mine.’  Zackrisson’s guitar work is similar to that of Dream Theater’s John Petrucci here.  And Ostgren’s work behind the kit is as strong as former DT drummer Mike Portnoy.  That being noted, it’s no wonder why Portnoy himself recently sang the praises of this band on his own Facebook page.  For all the intensity of the band’s new album, there is a lighter moment.  ‘Seventeed Again’ is an interesting little piano based prog/jazz hybrid that will keep any listener’s ear despite its near eight minute run time.

Fans of really classic rock and classic prog rock will also find themselves jamming out to ‘He Already Lives In You.’  There are hints of so many classic prog acts in this song that it will leave listeners’ heads spinning.  Whether for this song or any of the others on this album, it goes without saying that Beardfish may very well have another of this year’s sleeper hits.  “The Void” is available now in stores and online.  The band is currently slated to perform in Tallinn, Estonia on October 7th.  To keep up with the latest tour dates and news from Beardfish, fans can go online to http://www.beardfishband.com, http://www.facebook.com/beardfish, http://twitter.com/beardfishband, http://www.myspace.com/beardfishband, and http://www.youtube.com/user/beardfishband.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dream Theater Takes Top Honors In Rolling Stone Poll

Dream Theater has earned a high honor from rollingstone.com.  The band’s 1999 album, “Metropolis Part 2:  Scenes From A Memory” has taken home the top prize for the readers’ poll on readers’ favorite Prog Rock Albums Of All Time.

“Metropolis Part 2:  Scenes From A Memory” was the band’s fifth full length studio release.  It was the long fabled follow-up to the band’s song, ‘Metropolis Part 1:  The Miracle and The Sleeper’, which was on the band’s breakthrough 1992 LP, “Images & Words.” 

This honor follows up the band’s dual 2011 honors from rollingstone.com.  The band earned the #2 spot on the website’s “Top 10 Metal Bands of All Time” poll and #10 spot on its “Best Prog Rock Bands of All Time” poll.  Both the band and rollingstone.com staff reacted to this year’s honor.  “All of us in Dream Theater are so grateful to our fans for their incredible support in voting our album Metropolis PT. 2 Scenes From A Memory as the number 1 album in Rolling Stone’s poll for ‘Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time,’” said the members of Dream Theater. 

Staff from rollingstone.com responded to the huge number of votes for Dream Theater, saying, “If we had kept in all the Dream Theater albums, Images and Words would be number two, and Awake, Octavarium and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence would also be listed here. Lumping them all into this top spot was the only way to handle the flood of Dream Theater votes.”  The band’s fans can read even more on its win by clicking this link or pasting it into their browser:  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/readers-poll-your-favorite-prog-rock-albums-of-all-time-20120725/1-dream-theater-metropolis-pt-2-scenes-from-a-memory-0257304#ixzz21ktIiOga.

Dream Theater just finished up the Summer North American leg of its tour in support of its latest album, “A Dramatic Turn of Events.”  The band will head down to South America next for the last leg of its world tour.  That tour will start Wednesday, August 8th.  A full slate of upcoming dates can be found at http://www.dreamtheater.net/tourdates.  And fans can get even more news from the band online at http://www.dreamtheater.net, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Theater/7677942180, http://twitter.com/DreamTheaterNet, and http://www.myspace.com/dreamtheater.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.