Well I suppose everybody knows James La Brie as the lead singer of Dream Theater (DT). My introduction to DT was the now famous "Images and words" album. And I was impressed by this album and the singer. Most prog fans also like the more heavy and complex music that bands like DT make, but are often (including myself) disappointed in the lead singers who often can't sing and only are shouting and grunting some words. But James La Brie is a positive exception. And I can't understand all the negative stories about this man that were published the last couple of months. James La Brie is still one of the best singers around and he is proving my point with this album, which will also attract a lot of DT fans.
Bryan Beller - Bass; Mike Mangini - Drums; Mike Keneally - Guitars; Mike Borkosky - Additional Guitars; Matt Guillory - Keyboards, Piano Samples; Trent Gardner - Additional Keyboards, Spoken words at the end of "Afterlife"; James La Brie - Vocals.
"After life" (4:54) the opener of the album is just one of the strong compositions on this second Mullmuzzler album. James is singing with a lot of passion and his voice is in great shape. The composition is from La Brie & Trent Gardner. Gardner is not the only big Magna Carta name who is contributing to the compositions on this album. Track 2 and 3 are from the hands of La Brie, Wehrkamp and Cadden-James. The last two names are familiar to the Shadow Gallery fans. The first one has the title "Venice burning" (6:26) and is a heavy composition, which could be from a Dream Theater album. The second one is called "Confronting the devil" (6:20) and James is singing here at full power. Both compositions are very strong. The keyboards are played in the symphonic way, we know from the last Shadow Gallery album. After these three powerful songs it is time for a sad love ballad "Falling" (3:52) with acoustic guitar, piano samples and a simple vocal refrain. Next one "Stranger" (6:32) opens with a great keyboard intro. This composition has it all. Nice melodies, great keyboard orchestration, acoustic guitars, great vocals and a nice keyboard solo ALA Jordan Rudess. The ballad "A simple man" (5:20) has besides great vocal melodies a fantastic keyboard solo. "Save me" (4:11) has a more heavy character and great drumming. It's time again for a beautiful ballad "Believe" (5:00). James is singing with that sensual voice and accompanied only with piano, percussion and acoustic guitar and some keyboard samples. The next track also opens with slow piano, guitar and keyboard strings "Listening" (4:14). The character of the music is mainly ballad alike. In the last track "Tell me" (5:14) there are again some great melodies.
I never heard the first Mullmuzzler album and can't compare the two albums. The reviews I read about the first one gives me the impression that this second one is the better album but as I said, I don't have that album so you decide. This album has very strong compositions and I enjoyed listening to them. The voice of James La Brie is in a great shape and he sings with a lot of passion. And I even think Dream Theater fans will like this one. I am very curious what the new Dream Theater album will bring us.