Derek Sherinian - Blood Of The Snake
InsideOut Music
Jazzy Fusion Metal
10 songs (52.59)
Release year: 2006
Derek Sherinian, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Aleksie
Keyboard-wizard Derek Sherinian has a resume longer than Marge Simpson’s hairdo. From residencies in Dream Theater and Planet X to backing up legends like Alice Cooper and KISS, the guy has also pushed out several solo records, out of which Blood Of The Snake saw the light of day a few months ago. It is a joyful thing that the man has had time for this record as, well, as I am very impressed by what I am hearing. As it is very suitable to Sherinian himself, the guest list on this album is pretty damn impressive. You’ve got guitar players from John Petrucci to Yngwie Malmsteen widdling at mach speeds while the drums are being handled by the regular beat-master of tens of A-list rock and AOR-bands, Simon Phillips and the man behind the skins of the greater-than-thou Pride & Glory-project, Brian Tichy.

The song material itself varies on an expectedly wide scale of influences, all the while maintaining a solid structure. Czar Of Steel is pure, indulging fusion-trickery with polyrhythms and that is very suitable to my tastes. Sherinians keyboard-sound has luckily maintained its rough, guitar-like edge to it. I don’t know why more of the power metal-widdlers tourturing their Korg’s with spagetti-thin sounds don’t take an example from Derek. Phantom Shuffle is another, outrageously swinging jazz-cut, that may just be my favourite off the record. The saxophone-grooves dish out mucho love. Zakk Wylde grinds out the guitar work and handles the vocals on the steamrolling Man With No Name. The riffs are so Black Label that the only reasonable thing during this track to do is to mosh like hell. The darker, moody melodies of the piano and strings in the mid-section contrast the brutality brilliantly.

Been Here Before and On The Moon are beautiful mellow pieces reminiscent of Joe Satriani in ballad mode. More saxophone, yumyum! The title track and The Monsoon raises the gears with a few notches and the solo battles border on the insane. The latter goes all the way into thrash metal beats. Yngwie’s neoclassical runs are impossible to miss. Hammond organs = awesomness! The last song blows the entire predictability of the flow up in pieces as the fusion wizardry is changed into a sunny cover version of Mungo Jerry’s old hit In The Summertime. Billy Idol makes an appearance to hum down the vocals and it seems that my teen-years idol Slash is also present to rip a snazzy solo. Why his guitar sound here is light years behind the über-ballsy and creamy Les Paul-sound found on the GnR-albums is anyones guess. A nice tune, anyhow.

Knowing Sherinian’s credentials on the metal field I expected this to be a fine offering but I was still positively surprised. The compositions carry themselves with excellence and avoid falling into mere technical flash. I know that records like these are not for everyone, but personally Blood Of The Snake is the most enjoyable mostly-instrumental album I’ve heard since Steve Vai’s Passion & Warfare. That is saying a lot, mind you.

Killing Songs :
Czar Of Steel, Man With No Name, Phantom Shuffle, Been Here Before, Blood Of The Snake, On The Moon & The Monsoon
Aleksie quoted 87 / 100
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