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Derek Sherinian - Blood of the Snake CD (album) cover


Derek Sherinian

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Sherinian's fifth solo album makes one thing clear: this man has not stagnated. Blood of the Snake may boast an unpleasant cover, but the music is bound to please anyone looking for some kickass playing and fusion-prog-metal music at its best. The opener, Czar of Steel, brings just that, some amazing kickass playing and music. John Petrucci is the guest guitarist here and he doesn't get that much space for showoff, but does well enough. The next track, Man With No Name, is one of only two songs here. Zakk Wylde sings and plays the guirar here and it all sounds pretty good if only Wylde wasn't so keen on imitating his old boss Ozzy, so his vocal delivery is not really enjoyable but his playing and the song overall leaves a positive impression. Then comes the jazz number, Phantom Shuffle. The sax player Brandon Fields, curiously not listed here, is the star of this number and really steals the show here as well as in the other track he appears in, On the Moon. On the Moon is the prettiest number on the record, a gentle and beautiful instrumental with another fine solo by Brad Gillis, who gets the whole track 4 (Been Here Before) to himself and does extremely well. Actually, he is my favorite guitar player on this record.

Wylde and Malmsteen's solos are technically impressive as always, but often lack creativity. That is one of the downsides here. Malmsteen's vehicle is the heavy "Viking Massacre", while on the title track and "The Moonsoon" he shares the leads with Wylde, making it a thrilling shredder experience along with the man himself, Sherinian. He also tends to get carried away with his shredding skills sometimes, but still shows that he is an excellent improviser and soloist, as well as becoming a more accomplished composer. "Prelude to Battle" is an interesting piece and shows premise for Sherinian's creativity as composer. Although he shares most of the writing credits with Simon Phillips and Brian Tichy, I believe he still is the main man in that department. The album ends with a corny cover of "Summertime", sung by Billy Idol and with Slash on lead guitar. I could have done without this, but I guess this is Sherinian's way of showing he's got a sense of humor.

All I can say is that I'm really looking forward to see what Sherinian will come up with next and if he will succee in following up the premise of this album. Keep up the good work man!

Report this review (#88521)
Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you think that guitar is just for rhythm only and solos are for showing off than you can skip this. I am sure you are used in doing that for most of prog metal albums. But if you like shred, if you like metal, if you like solos, if you like sabbath, if you like malmsteen, if you like DT, damn if you still like thrash...this works for you. It works fine!

Cause this album provides of the highest standard virtuoso speedy guitar and keys solos, sometimes fusion and sometimes classic metal but always at the top. I like the way he brings up the best of everyone he works with. And if you check the credits you 'll see that he likes to work with the best

Breathtaking rhythm parts, music that marches on mid to up tempo, that keeps you high throughout the whole record. Headbanging rules!

Then strange quiet sounds with winds and jazzy moments. Melody builds up and returns to beautiful melancholic parts.

If you starting reviewing a track after a few notes, everything here starts from 4 stars. Some need a few seconds to go to 5 but nothings drops below 4.

When you arrive breathless on the final track, a nice surprise waits you. Idol voice provides a nice way to cool things off.

Sherinian done it again! He felt aggressive, he delivered aggressiveness. This is metal with progressive fusion parts. The joke at the finale sums up the feeling of this great work.

Report this review (#117196)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars There is definitely more heavy metal than jazz here

Derek Sherinian's Blood of the Snake is, so far, the third and last of his solo albums I have put in my collection and that is for a quite relevant reason: on his 2006 release, the Californian keyboardist change gears and goes straight to progressive metal, instead of the mindblowing jazz fusion of his first two solo albums. Don't get me wrong, Blood of the Snake still has noticeable jazz influences all over it, but the focus of the album is NOT the jazzman side of Sherinian, that is for sure. Possibly being part of Billy Idol's band and composing most of the album with drummer Brian Tichy have affected in the album's final form.

The firsts songs of the album pretty much set the tone for the whole album: jazzy heavy metal songs (AKA prog metal), straight heavy metal songs and a ballad here and there. There are few songs that can actually be called a jazz song, being those the fourth song, called Been Here Before, which sound like a reinterpretation of the Dream Theater song Take Away My Pain from the Falling Into Infinity album, and the sixth song, called On The Moon.

The whole album manages to keep a great overall song quality and is very well balanced, which means that it does not have a specific part that is better than the other or a clearly heavy or soft part. It pleasantly spins from start to finish. The only exception is the Ray Dorset cover In The Summertime, which isn't special at all. After the last song there is a perios of silence and then a suuuper secret track with Derek and his friends partying the completion of Blood of the Snake.

Grade and Final Thoughts

What can I say, a good album deserves a good grade acordingly. Just keep in mind that this album is metal-driven. 4 stars.

Report this review (#302705)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Derek Sherinian always has some outstanding guests on his albums and this is no exception. Once again he balances that heavier Metal style with Fusion to great effect. Some pretty good guitarists helping out like Pertucci, Wylde, Malmsteen and Slash.

"Czar Of Steel" is one of my favourites with Pertucci laying down some fire beginning at 2 1/2 minutes then Simon Phillips on drums takes his turn before 4 minutes as the synths create atmosphere. Amazing ! Pertucci is back late ripping it up. "Man With No Name" might be my favourite. Zakk sings and plays guitar while Jerry Goodman (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA) adds violin. I love Zakk's vocals and they do remind me of Ozzy. Fantastic tune ! "Phantom Shuffle" is catchy and uptempo fusion. Nice bass 2 minutes in and sax before 2 1/2 minutes. "Been Here Before" opens with relaxed guitar as the song builds. It settles back 2 1/2 minutes and then it builds again.The song gets aggressive 4 minutes in. Nice. "Blood Of The Snake" opens with a FLOYD-like rhythm and it gets intense quickly. Malmsteen really lights it up on this one.

"On The Moon" is pastoral as sax joins in. Piano replaces the sax before 2 minutes then the sax returns. A guitar solo before 4 minutes. "The Monsoon" turns heavy before a minute and it's almost doom-like as the organ floats in the background. Iommi-like guitar here from either Wylde or Malmsteen (they both play on this one). A definite SABBATH-like rhythm here. One of my favourites for sure. "Prelude To Battle" is very cool sounding with oud,percussion and dudak instrumentation. Exotic. It blends into "Viking Massacre" where it hits the ground running. A shred-fest from Malmsteen. "In The Summertime" is a cover tune with Billy Idol on vocals and Slash on's much better when it turns heavier and more intense part way through.

I'm a definite fan of Sherinian and the solo albums he has put out. Way better than Jordan Rudess' solo stuff but i'll still take Kevin Moore over both.

Report this review (#434119)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Heavy metal jazz!

Derek Sherinian is well known. That's really all I should say, because he has been involved in countless acts, crossing genre lines time and time again to be involved is prog metal, heavy metal, glam metal, jazz, funk rock, and countless other genres. He has worked with KISS, Alice Cooper, and of course, Dream Theater. After his departure from Dream Theater, he began a prolific solo career, in which he has so far released six studio albums as well as numerous other albums in his collaborations with other musicians. Blood of the Snake is Sherinian's fifth studio album and his most obvious heavy metal inspired release. Although most of his releases have an obvious metal tinge, he primarily releases jazz-based albums. This album, however, is primarily a heavy, ass-kicking, brutal experience, with some fantastic jazzy dynamics thrown in for good measure. This album is certainly my favorite Sherinian album, and it certainly shows his great capability as a band leader.

The entire album is a rollercoaster joy ride that takes you up into the sweeping grandeur of the Monster Lead, down into the mellow pits of melodic breakdowns, and through the funky spits of Sherinain's jazzy roots. Through crushing prog metal tracks like Czar of Steel (in which we hear John Petrucci shredding away at the frets) and brutal heavy metal tracks like Man with No Name (in which Zakk Wylde takes no trouble in ripping apart your ear lobes with intense riffing and soloing), to funky jazz fusion rides like Phantom Shuffle and mellow melodic melancholy relaxing passages of bliss like On the Moon, Sherinian has no trouble in laying down the dynamics for this album. As a composer, he shows his genius with fantastic contrasts and harmonies and as a band leader he shows his genius with his fantastic control over the parts and the genius of the arrangements. On top of this, the keyboardist himself shows incredible talent, ripping away at his keys like there's no tomorrow. Obviously as a heavy metal keyboardist he is no stranger to the shred, and he utilizes this skill very well throughout the compositions, on top of his more tender and careful work on the keyboard. This album is certainly one of the more diverse metal albums I've heard in a while, and it's certainly not a bad one!

Although some of the intense riffing and shred soloing can get a little dry by the end of the album, there is no doubt that this album is a superb effort by this man. Ending with the lighthearted carefree cover of Mugo Jerry's classic track In the Summertime, these guys certainly have little worry that their work will go far. They certainly were right. A collection of 10 top notch compositions, Blood of the Snake is certainly a classic heavy metal/jazz fusion album by Mr. Sherinian. Filled with numerous memorable moments, metallic and melodic, intense and placid, and a huge sundry of other feels, themes, and genres, the album presents one of the more varied displays of music seen recently. In the end, this album is simply fantastic, and is recommended to most fans of jazz rock and heavy metal. 4+ stars.

Report this review (#438648)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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