Derek Sherinian - Black Utopia - 2003


New solo album of the famous keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Popularly famed to have been part of Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Kiss etc and for his band called Planet X he presents us in this occasion a new instrumental adventure focused in the Heavy Metal wave of the XXI century.

In this new CD he has had the collaboration of many famous musicians. Get ready for the long list of musical celebrities: Yngwie Malmsteen, Al Dimeola, Zakk Wylde, Jerry Goodman, Steve Lukhater, Tony Franklin, Billy Sheehan and Simón Philips has been the chosen to accompany him in this “Black Utopia”.


Without delay we begin the review of this promising CD:
We begin with an intro called "The Fury". Making honor to it´s name the song meets the guitar of Yngwie Malmsteen with his high speed picking like he usually does in all his albums. "The Sons of Anu" introduces us totally in an heavy atmosphere taken out of some Yngwie´s album. It is at this time when we find the first mistakes of the CD. The guitar sound is one of the dirtiest and worse equalized that I´ve ever listened. It ruins the beautiful melody in the whole song. “Nightmare Cinema” is a hard track but a lot darker than the previous ones, in the we will be able to find reminiscences of Kiss and other Hard Rock bands of the 80s. Now we listen a calmer track called "Stony Days" in which he introduces us in a numberless beautiful guitar harmonies sometimes reminding to Planet X slow parts. "Starcycle" is one of the most progressive tracks of the whole album. The keyboards are highlighted in this track loaded with keyboard & guitar solos. Without a doubt "Axis of Evil" is the hardest song of the album. Raw guitar riffs and quick sometimes in which there is space for a very melodic central part dedicated to the splendor of Derek. "Gypsy Moth" begins with a Pseudo-flamenco guitar riff. There´s some space in this song for piano sounds. "Sweet Lament", a beautiful ballad plenty of with good melodies that reminds to Dream Theater songs. More blinks to Dream Theater in the beginning of the final song which gives name to the album. "Black Utopia". Without doubts this is the best track of the CD in which hard riffs and dark and atmospheric parts are very well mixed. To finish, a paranoia with sounds of somebody sipping for a jackstraw.


The truth is that I find very strange listening how in a keyboardist´s album the keyboard doesn't highlight at all. The guitars eclipse Derek every time, who has opted to include famous musicians to make more important this album. A poor album that fails in very important aspects like the sound and the originality. Rhythms made for guitars soloists. Is this a disk by a guitarist or by a keyboardist? You´ll have the last word.

author - date - rating - label

Germán Villén - June 2003 -   - Inside Out