Derek Sherinian – The Phoenix: Album Review

Derek Sherinian, takes a diversion from planet Apollo to planet Earth to do his own thing with a little help from some superhero friends.

Release Date: 18th September 2020

Label: InsideOut Music

Format: DL / digipak CD / vinyl

Alice Cooper called him “the Caligula of keyboards“. David Coverdale said “he’s like the son of Jon Lord – breathtaking!” He’s also in cahoots with Mike Portnoy as one of the Del Fuvio brothers. Derek Sherinian has something of a reputation.

Having played in bands where his work can sometimes get lost in the bluster of the instrumental prowess of the Sons Of Apollo or Black Country Communion as the superstars fight for their space, it’s grand that on The Phoenix he’s right in the spotlight.

For his first album since 2011’s Oceana, he’s called in his regular solo collaborator, drummer Simon Phillips, got a deal with InsideOut Music and kicked on. What’s interesting is in knowing what to expect when a background of Prog Metal and Hard Rock props up his CV like a huge colossus.

First impressions? A subtle and shadowy cover sees Sherinian posed, hands across two keyboards. Track titles, Clouds Of Ganymede and Temple Of Helios conjure up images of far-flung vistas and places although the title track itself could easily be a close relative of Sons Of Apollo’s God Of The Sun. Big and bold and with the Van Halen-esque guitar strategic wankery (one of his own phrases) and pummeling rhythms. So far, reverting to form with five minutes of unadulterated bluster that ends with the crash of the gong. The theme is continued on Empyrean Sky albeit at a more leisurely pace and with Derek adding some spangly jazzy runs. To be honest, the feeling is one of relief that he’s not gone down the indulgent solo album route and that there are elements of familiarity.

Inevitably, having referenced the great Eddie VH, and invited contributions from Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai and fellow traveller from Planet Apollo, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, other names spring to mind. After all, Sherinian is a contemporary keyboard God, so quite right that we should namecheck his peers

Clouds Of Ganymede is positively Wakeman-esque (straight from the red planet) as different keyboards (or patches) offer up a variety of sounds that carry the melody. Taking a turn in the solo spotlight, the piano parts in Dragonfly lie much more in Keith Emerson territory as he runs through some impressive jazzy chops alongside a busy rhythm from Phillips

The stuttering rock that crops up in Buddy Miles’ Them Changes sees Joe Bonamassa delivering a hefty vocal on some classy blues rock and a grand piece of Hard Rock comes on the longest track Pesadelo. Portuguese for ‘nightmare’ trivia buffs and co-written with Kiko Loureiro from Megadeth, brings us full circle with an adrenalin-fuelled, balls-out, deliverance. Naturally, we veer off on a musical tangent off with a flamenco section before some more classic Hammond sounds and meaty riffs (is that fellow son of Apollo Billy Sheehan in there?) bring us home.

Good to see (and hear) Derek Sherinian ploughing his own furrow for once, playing up to his role as “musical chameleon” and showcasing his diversity.

Listen to Dragonfly here:

Derek Sherinian online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / other

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