Derek Sherinian Enters the Vortex

All images courtesy of Chipster PR

By Fábio Moniz

A new dimension.

Projecting ourselves in some other location in outer space, as the first few seconds of Derek Sherinian’s Vortex hits, it strikes us as something that feels weirdly pleasurable. That is the feeling of vertigo that the giant abstract slide provides.

It only gets better by the second.

Each track, a wild ride, indeed. Every instrument in perfect synchronization, from guitarist Steve Stevens’ futuristic racing videogames’ sound to the hectic yet playful sound of Nuno Bettencourt, takes the listener through a great trip with virtuosity at the steering wheel. The melodies speak for themselves and leave no space for disappointment. Every single note is very well placed, one after the other. Not only is there a place for virtuosity, but the listener also has the right to feel some groove, too, and Sherinian provides it when and where it is appropriate.

Scorpion’s poison feels like a good cure.

The marvelous work in “Scorpion,” for instance, is a great show of a piano player that sees no boundaries. Sherinian is a wanderer in the world of music and a musicianaut landing on planet Rhythm.

What about Ric Fierabracci’s playing? Incredible! Immediately a sense of pleasantness and stability is rendered through his masterstrokes. Even when the bass stops driving the band’s balance to play a solo, an exotic balance is maintained.

But Fierabracci is not alone. Not at all, for Simon Phillips provides a great balance to the band as well. To me, Phillips was nothing short of a great choice of rhythmic section. Balance is what Mr. Phillips provides with his wise choice of toms and cymbals throughout the different measures.

Swing it! Or Rock it? There’s a place for everything.

Seven seas bring together the different masses of land, where each genre isolates itself. Isn’t the sea separating? Not when Derek Sherinian is in command. Instead, Sherinian provides ample steadiness and smoothness, so much so, that it feels like the masses of land themselves dance with one another, in perfect harmony, with what the timing of the music is asking at that specific millisecond. These musicians are masters of their craft, and they leave no space to doubt.

The keys to open your mind.

As the listener is enjoying the album, Sherinian is using a non-invasive method to open – not without knocking first, it’s a rule of cordiality – the door to something very appealing in our brains, a place we, as humans, have never ventured to explore, for we did not know such a place existed. Now that we acknowledge the existence of such a place, it is our choice to leave the door open, or lock it.

All images courtesy of Chipster PR

Old turned new.

Going back to the origins of most of the music people have access to nowadays, Phillips starts by providing some ground, with rhythms resembling the groovy beats of the 80s group Run DMC, and giving the Blues and touch of what Sherinian is, and has to give as a contributor to our everyday musical culture.

With a clear floor, Joe Bonamassa has all the space he needs to put on some of his bluesy magic at work. The well-known legendary Bonamassa sound comes with a taste of new. A fresh and refreshing blues sound accompanies one’s ears everywhere. Not to forget the extremely important Steve Lukather’s contribution, providing a great yet very pleasing contrast, a tasty distinct sound that will have something new to add at each play.

The hypnotizing sound of Zakk Wylde is another feature we’d like to point out. It only adds richness to the album. A precious stone in the shape of sound, Wylde’s sound is both dreamy, hypnotizing, and heavy, with a touch of lightness. Something hard to explain using words, but easy to listen to and enjoy. To square the effect of hypnosis, another guitarist has been invited to play alongside Wylde, none other than Michael Schencker. Schencker legitimizes the unity of the worlds that collided without causing any harm to each other.

Fusing, once again.

The magical word is fusion. Not only fusion as a genre, but the fusion of everything one can get in an album, full of great compositions, played by great musicians. With such a solid band watching his back, Sherinian has all the freedom to take us on a long walk through this new dimension we have been transported to.

And what a splendid track “Aurora Australis” is. Sherinian couldn’t have chosen a better guitarist for this piece, but Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. It sounds like the perfect place for him to share some of his vast knowledge, musicality, and always-innovative creativity.

Back to our commonly shared dimension.

The ride is over only when you let it end, right? We invite you to play it all over again, and again, and yet again. At every play, something new will pop up. Derek Sherinian’s compositions sound nothing like the usual Jack-in-the-Box expected surprise sameness. Instead, you’ll be left with the delightful taste of, or the idea, “I want more of this.”

Join the ride a second time. It only gets better.

Fábio Moniz is a columnist for and may be reached at

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