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Derek Sherinian - "Molecular Heinosity" (CD)

Derek Sherinian - "Molecular Heinosity" CD cover image

"Molecular Heinosity" track listing:

1. Antarctica
2. Ascension
3. Primal Eleven
4. Wings Of Insanity
5. Frozen By Fire
6. The Lone Spaniard
7. Molecular Intro
8. Molecular Heinosity
9. So Far Gone

Reviewed by on March 27, 2009

"A ballsy mixture of metal and fusion driven by virtuoso musicians – for once, a memorable shred album!"

With an already illustrious past, Derek Sherinian’s credentials should attest to his skill level as a musician. Having started his solo career in 1999 Derek has honed his sound for a decade, crafting mixtures of textural synth, lead keyboards, progressive time signatures, and guitar-based rhythms into polished portraits of progressive fusion metal. A skilled wingman alongside the guys from Kiss, Alice Cooper, Platypus, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, and Billy Idol, Sherinian has had many chances to take cues from the talented musicians associated with each. Indeed, Sherinian surrounds himself with world-class musicians for each solo record, making for a stout brew of music.

If you’re familiar with Sherinian’s more recent past with the innovative fusion metal band Planet X, but were a bit turned off by the lack of heaviness and accessibility, here’s what you need. Think of the heaviness and finesse of Liquid Tension Experiment molten together with the fusion guitar and textural elements of Allan Holdsworth and then hammered on an anvil by Sherinian to form the hefty sword that is his latest offering, “Molecular Heinosity”. Guest musicians on this record include drummer Virgil Donati (Planet X, Steve Vai), shredders Rusty Cooley (Outworld), Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy), Brett Garsed (Planet X), and Taka Minamino, drummer/guitarist Brian Tichy (Ozzy, Billy Idol), and bassist Tony Franklin (Jimmy Page, The Firm).

Starting off the record with some heavy chugging, keyboard leads with space to them (plenty of reverb), and instrumental passages calling to mind Rush, “Antarctica” gives an overview of the album before fading into the epic “Ascension.” Sherinian gives himself plenty of buildup, space, and backing to shine as a soloist here on a phenomenally clear sounding distorted lead synthesizer. “Primal Eleven” carries a mystical aura with it as the tracks seamlessly continue. At first listen the lead melody may be a bit tricky and weird, which often is a pitfall instrumental players fall into and never come out of. The melody, however weird it may sound, becomes quite catchy after several listens though. The lows and highs touched upon by the solos, both keyboard and guitar, on tracks like this and “The Lone Spaniard” show dynamic, which is refreshing after wave after wave of extreme technicality. The really heavy tracks like “Wings of Insanity”, “Frozen by Fire”, and the title track “Molecular Heinosity” make the album definitively metal and come loaded with guest talent as well.

Molecular Heinosity, with its skull-and-DNA cover art and all, is a ballsy mixture of metal and fusion driven by virtuoso musicians – for once, a memorable shred album! This is forty minutes well spent, though it will likely take several spins to sink in, as do most good records. I wouldn’t recommend this to listeners looking for an easy listen, but if you enjoy excessive instrumentation there’s much to love here.

Highs: Loaded with shred tactics and great musicianship, warm and ballsy production values, talented guest musicians (Rusty Cooley, Zakk Wylde, Virgil Donati, etc.), and Sherinian’s heaviest sound to date.

Lows: Not much, although traditionalists (fans not into the neo-technical side of metal) wouldn’t get a huge kick out of this – but that’s the point!

Bottom line: A must-have for instrumental fans wanting more balls from fusion music, more shred from metal music, and more keyboards overall.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)