DEREK SHERINIAN – Blood Of The Snake

DEREK SHERINIAN - Blood Of The Snake


Inside Out
Release date: August 1, 2006

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Though Derek Sherinian probably is best-known as Dream Theater’s former keyboardist, he has also toured and recorded albums with great names like Alice Cooper, Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Billy Idol. So when Sherinian releases his fifth solo album to date, he’s got a lot of friends to help him out. Blood Of The Snake features performances by, among others, Billy Idol, Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Tony Franklin (Jimmy Page, Blue Murder, David Coverdale), Simon Phillips (Toto), Brad Gillis and Brian Tichy.

The album begins with the Progressive Metal track “Czar of Steel,” which is the high point of the record. It’s great to hear the musical collaboration between Sherinian and his former bandmate John Petrucci. The keyboard and the guitar start off playing the same melodic riff before they kind of compete in a solo part where the keyboard plays something and the guitar answers … and vice versa. At the end of the track, you can hear John Petrucci play one of his trademark solos, proving why he’s been called one of the fastest guitar players on the planet. Tony Franklin’s fretless bass grooves in the background, and it lays a good foundation for the tune along with Simon Phillips steady drumming.

“The Man With No Name” is Zakk Wylde’s song from beginning to the end. It’s a heavy riff-based song that makes one think of Black Sabbath. Wylde leads on with his “Ozzy-sounding” vocal and trademark overtone guitar playing, while Sherinian fits in to the song like a glove. In the middle of the song, the tempo slows down, and Sherinian plays a piano bridge part with Wylde’s vocals on top, before the song moves into a keyboard solo, and finally ends with a brilliant guitar solo. This is the heaviest song on the record, and it could easily have fit on a Black Label Society record any time.

“Phantom Shuffle” is a Jazz Fusion tune and sounds similar to something off the album Moonbabies that Sherinian recorded with his side project Planet X in 2002. Brandon Fields’ Alto Sax takes this tune to a whole different level. Sherinian has brought along Jimmy Johnson on the bass for this one.

“Phantom Shuffle” could be hard for most Hard Rock and Heavy Metal fans to comprehend, but the tune shows how versatile Sherinian actually is. “Been Here Before” is a low-tempo track that eases everything down a notch or two. It’s a beautiful tune with Brad Gillis’ emotion-filled guitar playing setting the mood just where it should be.

The title track starts where “Czar Of Steel” ended. The tempo is high and lets Yngwie Malmsteen play the fast arpeggio-influenced solos that are his trademark. Unfortunately, “Blood Of The Snake” sounds too similar to the songs that featured Malmsteen at Black Utopia (Sherinian’s third solo album from 2003), and you get the feeling that you’ve heard it all before.

The tempo slows down again with the track “On The Moon.” The tune also features Brandon Fields on Alto Sax and Brad Gillis on guitar. “On The Moon” is a slow, Jazzy tune that creates a good variation in tempo and style on the album.

“The Monsoon” is a much better collaboration between Sherinian, Malmsteen, and Wylde than on the title track. It holds a fast and furious tempo, while Sherinian and Malmsteen are battling each other with solos, each trying to top the other one. The riff, mostly dominated by Wylde, is heavy and solid like a rock.

“Prelude To Battle” has more of a gypsy-ish impression to it, and according to Sherinian, it draws heavily from his Armenian roots. It is short and mysterious, and is secretly guiding listeners to the next song: “Viking Massacre.” This is another tune with Malmsteen on lead guitar, and is probably the highlight of the album along with “Czar Of Steel.” Sherinian experiments with different types of sounds on the keyboard (even Hammond organ), and makes the track interesting. All the different parts along with the kind of orchestra-based riff will keep you interested.

The last song on the album is a cover of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime.” The song features Billy Idol on vocals and Slash on guitar. It’s a cool version of the famous song, though it doesn’t vary much from the original, except from Slash’s talk-box guitar solo. However, to release this cover version as a single is a strange choice, as there are so many other great tunes on this record.

The record holds some great performances and the musicians show skillful playing, without turning the record into a cliché that would have sacrificed song quality for instead showing how great they are and how fast they can play. The variation on this record is amazing and you’ve got everything from Progressive Metal and Heavy Metal to Jazz Fusion. Derek Sherinian proves with this record why he is one of the greatest keyboardists in today’s Rock and Metal scene. If you like instrumental music (and even if you normally don’t) you should check out Blood Of The Snake.


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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