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Black Utopia

music reviewmusic reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Black Utopia

Artist: Derek Sherinian
Genre: Instrumental, Heavy Metal
Release Date: April 2003

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
4 stars out of 4

I noticed an immediate change Derek Sherinians music right from the beginning of his latest release Black Utopia. The cover evokes a futuristic (?) civilization of what looks to be a post nuclear holocaust image(s) on the outskirts of a normal city with an interesting design of a crucifix in the shadows of the skyline. The music is most certainly darker and heavier than it ever has been before and the best that I have heard yet from Sherinian and his mates. He always creates magnificent music and I was wondering how he was going to come up with something fresh and different being that he plays strictly instrumental progressive rock, which actually provides more flexibility than music with vocals. He has not strayed off course too much over the last two releases. This time out is an entirely different approach than you have heard before so get ready for some changes. For starters, he decided to invite an all-star cast to support this project. Legends such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Al DiMeola, Steve Lukather and Simon Phillips, amongst others, are all part of this determined instrumental onslaught of prog-rock.

Deep in the corners of our minds there are dark places we all have whether we want to admit it or not. Sounds, images and words place or prompt these thought processes inside our heads. As disturbing as they may be at times we must be realistic and acknowledge those thoughts and feelings. I think musicians such as Derek do just that through their music. It must be a wonderfully therapeutic experience releasing those demons. Even though his utopia is black, there is always hope for change, and if you look to the horizon of the image on this cover, there is light and life beyond the doom and gloom. Therefore, the message is more than clear to me, allow the acceptance of all our feelings and you unlock the gate to immersion in the music. This is what this is all about for me and it can be for you as well.

Thanks to the music, for a while, I can have some kind of release during my day. Unleash The Fury chained inside you and it becomes a Sweet Lament, such is life in the danger zone of emotions; this is how this music speaks to me. That says it all. It is easy enough to let it all go and then move on to the next chapter of your life. I know I am waxing prophetic and getting intense but I feel this music provokes this mindset and for me that can be a good thing to acknowledge. And how about you fellow prog-heads? Can you let the music take you away for 60 minutes of your life to find some other place inside your head you have not visited for a long time? Let Derek Sherinian and his music show you the way, I promise you will enjoy the trip. Sherinian has become the consummate bandleader and virtuoso with few equals; once again, he provides an album that serves as his truth.

1. The Fury 2. The Sons of Anu 3. Nightmare Cinema 4. Stony Days 5. StarCycle 6. Axis of Evil 7. Gypsy Moth 8. Sweet Lament 9. Black Utopia

The Credits:

Derek Sherinian - Keyboards Yngwie Malmsteen - Guitar (Tracks 1,2,6) Al DiMeola - Guitar (Tracks 2,7) Zakk Wylde - Guitar (Tracks 3,6,9) Steve Lukather - Guitar (Tracks 4,5,8) Tony Franklin - Bass (Tracks 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) Billy Sheehan - Bass (Tracks 2,6,9) Jerry Goodman - Violin (Tracks 2,3,6,7,8,9) Simon Phillips - Drums Brian Tichy - Additional Guitars (Tracks 2,3,6,9)



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