(Hidden track warning . . . located in outro sector)
Mission: Create killer follow-up release to monster-kewl Universe effort. Induce sales and demonstrate staying power.
Mission crew: Derek crazy-keys-man Sherinian, Steve sounds-like-Jeff-Beck-fusion-era Lukathier, Simon oh-yeah-that-drums-guy Phillips, are teamed with three assorted heavy-weight-fusionjazzrock-bass-playing monsters TKennedy-n-TFranklin-n-JJohnson. Also add brief shots of fusion fiddle by Jerry The-Flock-Mahavishnu-Ork-Dregs Goodman and kick-out-the-jams tube-screamin’ axe-work by Wylde-man Zakk.
Final analysis: Ten varied tracks of in-your-face fusionoid rockers and mean-edged jazzers are achieved. Mellow moments are included. Lukathier echoes the Beckian atmospherix of There and Back while Sherinian attacks keys in a visciously precise Jan Hammerian way, as in the Black Sheep “Jetstream” Hendrixian-fusion-synth rock mode. All done very well. Success. A nod to Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” is featured but without extended UFO-landing adagio. Interesting. Many echoes of Sherinian’s Universe release appear in bridges and refrains but sustained intensity of Donati drum-mania not noted. Lukathier and Wylde sound more like JBeck and NZaza respectively than Holdsworth, Henderson, or Connors. This means more of an instrumental rock metalloid cast is evident vs. a clear-cut jazz rock fusion sheen. Still the jazz does shine through clearly on Mingus’ “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” with Lukathier’s fretwork sounding like Jeff Beck’s soloing on “The Final Peace” from There and Back. In many ways the feel here is also a perfect mirror of John McLaughlin’s approach to that olde blue-fusion song “New York on my Mind”. I wished Goodman was featured on that cut. It soon begins to get very soulfully blues-rocking in the solo-laden mid-section and that jazz feel is buried until the ending. Tremors of U.K. LIVE come in clearly on “Rhapsody In Black” evoking nostalgic visions of “Night after Night” sans Wettonesgue angsty psuedo-opera-vox thank goodness.
Post-analysis thoughts: This mission has produced intense jams but not as intense and overwhelming as Sherinian’s prior Universe creation. If this was an approach towards new directions for Sherinian’s music, he has produced a fine album. But this reviewer would like to see Sherinian approach some of the more well-known jazz rock fusion guitarists and create a monster that will overshadow all of his past admirable solo efforts. He is poised now to do just that. But will it happen? I hope so. The time and the talent are ripe for this to happen.
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