Sherinian’s New Album ‘The Phoenix’ Burns Bright From Start To End

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran keyboardist Derek Sherinian released his latest album Sept. 18.  The eight-song record, The Phoenix, continues the success that Sherinian has enjoyed over the course of his career.  It is a record that is sure to appeal to Sherinian’s fans and those of all of the projects in which he has taken part throughout the years.  ‘Dragonfly,’ which is one of the album’s singles, unquestionably supports the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The same can be stated of the album’s closer, ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes the album.  ‘Empyrean Sky,’ the album’s lead single, is one more example of what makes Sherinian’s new album such a strong new offering from Sherinian.  It is hardly the last example of the album’s strength, too.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

The Phoenix, the eighth and latest solo release from Derek Sherinian, is another successful offering from the veteran keyboardist.  The 43-minute record’s body proves that from start to end.  There is not one bad song featured in this recording.  One of the album’s most notable compositions is its single ‘Dragonfly.’  The single is a fully acoustic composition that lends itself easily to comparison to works from the jazz-rock-fusion group Trioscapes.  That is evidenced through the stylistic approach of the piano, drums, and bass.  It is a very distinct, percussive style approach, that again, Trioscapes has taken on each of its current two albums.  The controlled chaos of Sherinian’s performance on the piano couples with drummer Simon Phillips’ steady time keeping and bassist Ernest Tibbs’ low end to make the song so enthralling.  The abstract picture that the trio paints with its work is just so rich, which will make the song stick in listeners’ minds even more.  Phillips actually noted in a recently released track-by-track discussion on the album, that the song almost featured some synthesizer work, but after discussion among the trio, the decision was made to keep the song fully acoustic.  That decision could not have been more right.  Listening through this song, audiences will agree that the inclusion of any electronics would have only ruined its presentation.  Add in that Sherinian noted in the same video that his piano line was composed in a very improvisational fashion, the song gains even more strength.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is just one of the works that makes The Phoenix such an impressive new offering from Sherinian.  ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes out the album, is another notable addition to the record.

‘Pesadelo’ presents an arrangement that harkens back to Sherinian’s work with Dream Theater back in the late 1990s.  That is evidenced in its heavy guitars, drums, and even bass and keyboards.  There is a lot going on here, instrumentally, and everything is well balanced.  That itself says a lot about how much work went into the song’s creation.  Phillips addressed the heaviness and his own part in the song’s creation in the noted video, stating, “It was very challenging…I didn’t know what to play at first.”  The brainstorming that he did with Sherinian, guitarist Kiko Loureiro (ex-Megadeth) and bassist Tony Franklin paid off.  That is evidenced in the final product.  Phillips’ time keeping is precise, yet is so heavy in its own right.  He was not the only one who was challenged by the composition.  Franklin echoed Phillips’ thoughts as he, too, noted that Sherinian’s work “pushes me to my limits” in the aforementioned video.  He meant that in a complimentary fashion.  His low end couples with the work of his fellow musicians here to make the song so full and rich, ensuring again that prog-metal fans and Sherinian’s fans alike will appreciate this album.  Even as much as this song does to make The Phoenix burn even brighter, it still is just one more musical timber on the fire that is this album.  ‘Empyrean Sky’ is yet another positive addition to the album.

‘Empyrean Sky’ is anchored by Sherinian’s keyboard work, Philips’ time keeping and Jimmy Johnson’s bass line.  Armen Ra’s performance on the theremin adds its own touch to the composition, too, as does guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal’s performance along with the group.  The composition in whole lends itself to comparisons to work (both classic and modern) from the likes of Kansas and to works from Emerson Lake & Palmer.  It is a slight departure from the work that he has done with other acts with which he has recorded and performed.  That gives the song even more of its own identity.  On a related note, Sherinian himself said in the previously noted video, that he compared the work to songs from the jazz-fusion group Return to Forever.  Considering that comparison and the comparison to works from the likes of Kansas says a lot about the song’s appeal.  Phillips added to Sherinian’s statements, noting how relaxed the atmosphere was as he, Sherinian and guest guitarist (and Sherinian’s Sons of Apollo band mate) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal recorded the song.  That relaxed vibe is reflected throughout this prog rock opus.  It shows even more why The Phoenix is such a powerful new offering from Derek Sherinian and is certainly not the last of the album’s standout tracks.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

Derek Sherinian’s new album The Phoenix is another positive new offering from the veteran keyboardist and composer.  It offers listeners so much to enjoy from start to end.  That is due to the time and effort that went into composing, recording, and producing each song.  The end result of that time and effort is a record that sounds good and will leave listeners feeling good.  That has been evidenced by all three of the song songs addressed here.  Each song is its own unique composition, but still puts on full display, Sherinian’s talents as a musician and composer, and the talents of his fellow musicians.  Much the same can be said of each of the album’s other songs not addressed here.  When those songs are considered along with the songs directly examined here, the end result is an album that is just as good as Sherinian’s existing albums and as enjoyable as any other prog rock and metal album released so far this year.  The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.

More information on Derek Sherinian’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.dereksherinian.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Derek-Sherinian-Official-361589234010473/

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DerekSherinian

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Derek Sherinian Debuts Track-By-Track Discussion On New LP

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Derek Sherinian showed audiences how his latest album The Phoenix came to life this week.

Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, ex-Dream Theater, Platypus) debuted his new “making of” video Tuesday.  The nearly 25-minute video opens with Sherinian shredding on a massive keyboard setup before eventually moving into an interview with Sherinian and a montage of footage from the album’s recording sessions.

The noted montage is coupled with a series of other interview segments with Sherinian and some of the album’s featured guest stars, such as Billy Sheehan, Simon Phillips, and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

The video takes audiences trac-by-track through The Phoenix in Sherinian’s own words and those of Phillips.  the pair discusses topics related to the album, such as the influence of Return To Forever and Jimi Hendrix, working with bluesman Joe Bonamassa, and bringing everyone together for the album.

The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.  The album has produced the singles ‘Them Changes,’ ‘Dragonfly,’ and ‘Empyrean Sky.’

It will be available as a limited edition digipack CD, 180-gram LP/CD combo pack and digital album.  The record’s track listing is noted below.

 

1. The Phoenix
2. Empyrean Sky
3. Clouds of Ganymede
4. Dragonfly
5. Temple of Helios
6. Them Changes
7. Octopus Pedigree
8. Pesadelo

 

The Phoenix will feature guest appearances by figures, such as bassists Billy Sheehan, Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson and guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, Guns N’ Roses), and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

Sherinian said of bringing Loureiro on board for the new album, “Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

More information on Derek Sherinian’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://dereksherinian.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Derek-Sherinian-Official-361589234010473/

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DerekSherinian

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Derek Sherinian Debuts ‘Dragonfly’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Derek Sherinian debuted the video for his latest single this week.

Sherinian debuted the video for his new single ‘Dragonfly‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from his forthcoming solo album The Phoenix while its video is the album’s first.  The album is scheduled for release Sept. 18 through InsideOut music.

The debut of ‘Dragonfly’ comes less than a month after Sherinian debuted ‘Empyrean Sky,’ the album’s lead single.  The arrangement at the center of ‘Dragonfly presents a distinct freeform style approach.  The controlled chaos of Sherinian’s performance on the piano couples with drummer Simon Phillips’ steady time keeping and bassist Ernest Tibbs’ low end to make the song a jazz fusion style arrangement that will appeal to fans of Trioscapes.

The arrangement at the center of ‘Empyrean Sky,’ by comparison is more of a distinct prog-metal work that is grounded in Sherinian’s keyboard work, guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal’s work on guitar and ‘Phillips’ once again steady time keeping.

Along with handling drums throughout the record, Phillips also also co-produced and co-wrote the album with Sherinian.  He shared his own thoughts on the record.

Pre-orders for The Phoenix are open now.  Eight songs will make up the body of The Phoenix, among them a cover of Buddy Miles’ ‘Them Changes.’  It will be available as a limited edition digipack CD, 180-gram LP/CD combo pack and digital album.  The record’s track listing is noted below.

 

1. The Phoenix
2. Empyrean Sky
3. Clouds of Ganymede
4. Dragonfly
5. Temple of Helios
6. Them Changes
7. Octopus Pedigree
8. Pesadelo

 

The Phoenix will feature guest appearances by figures, such as bassists Billy Sheehan, Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson and guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, Guns N’ Roses), and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

Sherinian said of bringing Loureiro on board for the new album, “Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

More information on Derek Sherinian’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.dereksherinian.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Derek-Sherinian-Official-361589234010473/

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DerekSherinian

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Toto’s 35th Anniversary Concert Its Best Live Recording Yet

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Veteran rock band Toto released its self-titled debut album on October 15, 1978. That was almost thirty-six years ago. The band has released twelve full length studio albums since then with a thirteenth due out in 2015. While fans wait for that new album, Eagle Rock Entertainment has a new live offering from the band to tide them over. The live offering in question is Toto: 35th AnniversaryLive in Poland. The band recorded the show on June 25th, 2013 as part of its 2013 World Tour. It was released to the world on April 29th, 2014 through a variety of formats. One of the best formats for fans is the concert’s Blu-ray presentation. Toto’s fans will appreciate this recording for a number of reasons, the first of which being the show’s set list. The concert itself runs over two hours. Another reason that fans will appreciate the show is the band’s performance. And the production values of the concert are above par. This includes not just the cinematography and the audio mix, but the effects that were used throughout the concert. All of these factors together make Toto: 35th AnniversaryLive in Poland a concert recording that any fan of this veteran rock band will enjoy time and again.

The set list chosen for any band’s live show is one of the main reasons that any fan attends a show or even buys the band’s recording. Fans of Toto will definitely appreciate the set list chosen for this concert. The songs chosen for this concert cover a relatively large part of Toto’s catalogue. Not every album is represented here. But in order to do that, the band would have had to lengthen its concert thus making for a second disc. True Toto fans would like that. But for what it is, the set list presented here will impress fans regardless. It goes all the way back to the band’s self-titled 1978 debut and all the way up to its most recent release, Falling In Between (2006). That extensive set list runs roughly two hours. The bonus behind the scenes featurette adds even more enjoyment for the band’s fans. It brings the presentation’s total time to nearly three hours of content. That is a lot for fans to applaud. Just as worthy of applause is the band’s overall performance. That’s the next factor to consider in this recording.

Guitarist Steve Lukather told the audience in attendance for the taping of this concert that Toto’s members had been making music together for thirty-five years, and that many of its members had known each other for forty years. One might ask what this has to do with anything. The answer is simple. As viewers will see in watching this recording, Toto obviously hasn’t lost any steam over the course of thirty-five years. Even those that might not be so familiar with Toto will be surprised at the band’s stage presence and the energy that it exudes in its more up-tempo songs. On the other hand, audiences will be just as impressed by the band’s control and gentility in its more reserved moments, too. There are other far more well-known bands than Toto out there that are pale shadows of themselves thirty plus years after they first broke out. The members of Toto—Steve Lukather (Lead vocals/guitars), David Raich (Lead Vocals/Keyboards), Joseph Williams (Lead Vocals), Steve Porcaro (keyboards), Simon Phillips (drums), Nathan East (bass/backing vocals), Amy Keys and Mabvuto Carpenter (backing vocals)—show here that their proverbial tanks are as full in this performance as they were in the band’s younger days. And the energy exuded by the packed house before which the band performed mirrored that energy, too making the performance all the more worth watching.

The band’s performance and its set list are of equal importance to Toto’s latest live recording. While both factors are equally important, there is one more factor to examine in this recording. That factor is the show’s production values. The production values in question include the cinematography, the audio mix and the special effects used throughout the show. The auditorium in which the band’s show was recorded was rather large. That’s obvious thanks to the expert work of the camera crew that recorded the show. Adrian Van Nelson did quite the job of getting the audio levels equalized. Not one member of the band steps on the other at any one point in the performance in terms of sound levels. And even the camera crew, helmed by Blue Leach fully captures the emotion and energy of each song with ease. The more up-tempo songs are leveled with equally fast paced shots of the band and the audience. The slower, more reserved moments are given even more depth and emotion as the camera crew gently and slowly transitions from shot to shot. The wheeled camera that sits right at the front of the stage slowly pans across the band as it slides along its rails, making for so much emotion in the show’s slower songs. And the accompanying occasional black and white effect that is also incorporated into said moments adds yet another layer to said songs. And then there is the split screen effect used at various points in the show that showcase every member of the band. Within the context of those shots, viewers actually get more up close and personal with the band than in most live recordings. Viewers actually get to see drummer Simon Phillips play from waist level in one shot. They will actually see his hands moving swiftly across his set. Whether or not one is a drummer, every viewer will be equally amazed at the level of his talent. And in other moments, audiences get to see keyboardists Steve Porcaro and David Raich just as close-up. These are just a few examples of why the audio mix and production values in whole make Toto: 35th AnniversaryLive in Poland all the more worth checking out by audiences whether they be new to the band’s body of work or are more familiar with said collection of music. Those production values together with the band’s performance and its set list all come together to make this recording one more extremely impressive release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Utopia Re-Issue Another Hit For Sherinian

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Derek Sherinian’s second solo album Black Utopia is an interesting work from this world renowned keyboardist.  There is so much to say about this record and not enough space or time to go into everything.  So instead of rambling, we’ll hit on the main points of what makes this album just as enjoyable for Sherinian’s fans the second time around as it was in its original release.   The first aspect of this album that makes it so enjoyable is its sequencing.  That is to say the order of the songs.  The second factor that listeners will appreciate (especially those that might be hearing the album for the first time) is the A-list guest stars that agreed to be a part of this album.  The third factor in the success of the album’s re-issue is the reworked liner notes.  All three of these factors together make Black Utopia an album that any Derek Sherinian fan will appreciate just as much in its new re-issue as they did in its initial release some ten years ago.

The success of Black Utopia is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The album’s sequencing greatly exhibits the understanding of and appreciation for music possessed by both Derek Sherinian and co-producer Simon Phillips.  The pair treat Black Utopia as if they were creating a set list for a live show.  The energy of the songs rises and falls just enough throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks to keep listeners fully engaged.  That energy rises and falls just enough within the context of the songs themselves to make the energy in the transitions between songs even more impactful.  It shows on a deeper level, the pair’s understanding of and appreciation for their craft.  The resultant effect is one the makes this album one of those rare albums that listeners will want to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song. It’s just the starting point of the album’s success, too. And that’s saying something.

Black Utopia’s success is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The sequencing of the songs would be moot without the music crafted by Sherinian and the guest musicians that make appearances on this album.  That is the second factor in this album’s creation that makes it a success.  Sherinian invited some of the biggest names in the business to join him on this record.  And it’s a good thing they accepted his invitation.  Among those major names are the likes of Simon Phillips (The Who, Judas Priest, Gary Moore, etc.), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Al Di Meola (Return To Forever, Chick Corea), Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big) and others.  Their talents are well shared throughout the record.  The whole group teams up on the album’s opener for what is without a doubt one of the album’s absolute best works.  Malmsteen puts on a virtual clinic with his shredding, while Sherinian himself manages somehow to mix in a touch of jazz/fusion at one point, adding even more flare and substance to the song.  And the combination of Zakk Wylde, Simon Phillips, Tony Franklin and Jerry Goodman on ‘Nightmare Cinema’ is incredible.  Sherinian’s etherial keyboard part set against Phillips’ drumming early on perfectly illustrates the song’s title.  It establishes quite the eerie vibe.  The eventual addition of Wylde on guitar adds even more depth to the song as it progresses.  It is simply something that must be heard in order to be fully appreciated.  The same can be noted of the album’s remaining tracks.  Sherinian  and his fellow musicians come together on each song to show just why their addition to Black Utopia is such an important part of the album’s overall success.

The who’s  who of musicians recruited to record Black Utopia alongside Derek Sherinian is just as important to the success of the album as its sequencing.  Without the talent of the musicians in question, the sequencing would not be all that important to discuss.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.  And because it wasn’t the case, it leaves only one remaining factor to note of this re-issue.  The factor in question is the updated liner notes included with the album.  This time out, Black Utopia includes an article crafted by journalist Joe Lalaina, of Guitar World magazine.  Lalaina outlines the album in his own words.  Sherinian’s own thoughts on Black Utopia are also included as a follow-up to Lalaina.  Listeners will take special interest in Sherinian’s comment about working with Brian Tichy (Something Unto Nothing, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol).  He notes that it was his friendship and working relationship with Tichy that led the pair to work together on this album.  There’s also mention of his excitement of working with both Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Di Meola.  One of his comments in particular regarding this can’t be repeated here.  But it will most definitely have listeners laughing.  It’s the finishing touch to an album that any hard rock fan should hear at least once now that it has been re-issued by Armoury Records.  More information on this and other albums from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.