Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Derek SHERINIAN: "Black Utopia" [Re-issue]

Rating: Re-issue
Label: Armoury Records/Eagle 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The re-issue of Derek Sherinian's sophomore solo album, "Black Utopia", the same basic line-up as the debut (see review elsewhere on this page) only with the fine recruitment of Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheehan, Al Di Meola, and Jerry Goodman. The following statement from the liner notes and according to Sherinian and I quote, "I remember wanting to make a darker follow-up record of Inertia. A lot of this material was written post 9/11 and the world had an eerie vibe at the time, which reflected in my songwriting", end quote.

Starting up the record with the short intro of "The Fury", the excellent follow-up of "The Sons Of Evil", surely both will have you thinking about the early days of Rising Force as Malmsteen's trademark neo-classical runs leap through the mix. Another Sherinian quote from the booklet, "I must say that Yngwie is the most exciting guitarist I've worked with. He listens to a track ONCE and lays his solo in just ONE take. It's mind boggling to witness such unbridled fluidity from a musician".

The overall darker tone of the album, clearly not always to Derek's advantage in my humble opinion. It gets a bit too close to the rather typical Zakk Wylde album and simply not enough of the sweeping keyboards. "Axis Of Evil" is interesting with its three-way trade-off among Zakk, Yngwie and Derek. It's also the first time we ever hear Yngwie Malmsteen shredding in mixolydian mode. "Stony Days", the spacey composition featuring Steve Lukather and the ever so present work of Tony Franklin and his fretless bass. I still prefer the debut over this, but the Luke' and especially Malmsteen's tracks are out of this world. Release date: February, 10th at midprice.

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