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DEREK SHERINIAN ‘Black Utopia’ (Inside Out 08565692) (2003)

Keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian has played with Kiss, Dream Theater, Alice Cooper as well as Planet X and releasing this, his second solo album. There is a very famous guest list on here including Toto members Simon Philips and Steve Luthaker, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheenan (ex- Mr Big/Dave Lee Roth), Tony Franklin (ex- The Firm/Blue Murder) and Brian Tichy (ex-Pride & Glory/Foreigner). It’s all instrumental album and the guitars on here are a fretboard fans wet dream!

Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen go head-to-head on ‘Axis Of Evil’, with guitar solos flying all over the place! Ultra heavy riffing combined with a driving Hammond organ, creating a Sabbath meets Metallica sound. The tempo then slows to give way to some very flash guitar/keyboard interplay. Wylde lets rip on the title track ‘Black Utopia’ with more of his trademark riffing, sandwiched either side by soft keys. It’s a big surprise when the guitar finally kicks in!

Steve Luthaker shows off his undoubted talents on the Jeff Beck cover ‘Starcycle’, with its jazz-rock styling. Luthaker also appears on the Queen like ‘Sweet Lament’ with his guitar combining nicely with Sherinian’s piano.

Very accessible instrumental album, that will delight fans of the artists on here. Sherinian’s keys underpin each song and there is some real stand out moments musically.


Review by Jason Ritchie

Buy this CD

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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