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“A New Beginning” by Creation’s End

Artist: Creation’s End
Title: “A New Beginning”
Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: 11/9/2010
Genre: Progressive Metal/Power Metal
Rating: 4.25/5

Although I am hard pressed to use the term “super group” for fear of it no longer having significant impact, there is no question that Creation’s End is a band that features some superbly talented musicians and I anticipate them being one that will quickly rise to the top of the list in the hearts and minds of Progressive and Power Metal fans around the world. The band’s lineup finds singer Mike DeMeo (Masterplan, Riot, The Lizards) belting out some incredible notes over the lead guitar work of Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie) and to up the level of their game they add Rudy Albert (guitars/keyboards), Joey Black (bass) and Dario Rodriguez (drums) to the mix and together offer up some truly thrilling material. I’ve been a fan of DiMeo’s voice since his Riot days and I very much enjoyed his contributions to the Blues-based Rock band The Lizards and of course Masterplan. With this being the case I loved getting to hear him showcase his soaring register in a band where his range seems to be a perfect fit. On the guitar side it was interesting to hear Marco Sfogli showing off his technique with this material and I dare say that he broadened that which many first enjoyed on the James LaBrie album. He’s a monster player and the same seems to apply to all of the other members in the group but something clear hits you as the tunes pummel your senses and that is no one is showing off and going into long, overblown exercises. The group works together as a cohesive unit and doing it in this fashion allows all of them to shine as a single entity. There are quite a few lengthy passages on this eight track release which lets you get a little more out of the bands performance than a mere four or five minute number would allow and since there are so many different paths taken during the songs they deserve being quantified as “progressive”. Some of my favorites included “Forsaken”, “World Holocaust” and “Dissociate” along with the epic closer and band name “Creation’s End”. In my humble opinion the vocals of DiMeo have never been better and while it was a shame to see him move on from Masterplan not too long ago, he is now working with something that is also bringing a lot to the table and really lets him shine.
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“Elements Of Persuasion” by James LaBrie

Artist: James LaBrie
Title: “Elements Of Persuasion”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 3/29/2005
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

Vocalist James LaBrie of the influential progressive metal titan “Dream Theater” recently completed recording his solo release entitled “Elements Of Persuasion”. It is indeed a nice addition to his recent work with both Dream Theater and Arjen Lucassen. The album stands along side the heavier material of Dream Theater very well, and LaBrie fans will also find the music a little different than his work with “Mullmuzzler”. The record is more akin to a release by Theater with the songs holding similar creativity and structure but all remaining at about 5 minutes in length. There are a significant amount of catchy hooks and riffs and I found overall the album was very easy to enjoy. The toughest audience is generally the Progressive one, and given most of them coming to Dream Theater shows to hear the amount of musical virtuosity the singer often is the last point of interest. However, James has put together a pretty solid group to record this piece and joining him is Matt Guillory (keyboards), Marco Sfogli (guitars), Bryan Beller (bass) and Mike Mangini (drums). Surely this band will impress even the most die-hard of progressives. I admit finding the guitar work of Sfogli super impressive with his shredding along the lines of John Petrucci. With this release LaBrie focused his writing to touch upon the consistent give and take in relationships between people.
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James LaBrie @ The Downtown (4/16/2005)

Logo - James Labrie

Artist: James LaBrie
Venue: The Downtown (Farmingdale, NY)
Opener: Rob Balducci
Date: 4/16/2005
Label: InsideOut Music

When it was announced that James LaBrie (lead singer for Dream Theater) would be performing for his throng of fans for only three area shows I felt this was the chance to be part of something very special. The East Coast would be where all of this would take place and the venues selected were The Chance, The Starland Ballroom and The Downtown. I attended the Downtown show and the crowd was maxed out at about 200 people. Not a bad night for the room, yet I expected just a little more in terms of attendance. When I discovered that LaBrie had posted his complete set list before the shows for all the fans to see and not one Dream Theater song would be performed, I instantly discounted the amount of Theater fans who are primarily interested in the technical abilities of the band more than they are in the vocal prowess. On reviewing that list, LaBrie would be performing music from his latest release on InsideOut Music entitled “Elements Of Persuasion” as well as many selections from his Mullmuzzler releases. This new CD would be played in pretty much its entirety with the exception of the track “Smashed”. Onstage LaBrie even joked at how this was the final night on his big 3 night tour. Teasing by saying well there are only three clubs worth playing in the USA anyway. With this recent recording LaBrie has achieved a very close partner to his existing work in Dream Theater. The piece is very adept musically and interesting I think the DT fans would have enjoyed this effort more than his previous endeavors. In a live setting he sings the same as on the CD and that’s always a plus for the attendee. He also made sure to have a top notch touring lineup. I was extremely happy with watching drummer John Macaluso kick some ass on the drums. His solo and level of play throughout the night was beyond extraordinary. The other members of his band are Matt Guillory (keyboards) and Marco Sfogli (guitar) as well as Andy DeLuca (bass). The band was incredibly tight and some of them also appear on the new CD. Marco is an exceptional guitarist and there was a lot of visible camaraderie among the players as the set was done.
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