Sherinian, Derek - Inertia

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMA 2023-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:55:00

Last week [April 11, 2001] I reviewed the solo album from Dream Theater's ex-keyboardist Kevin Moore and his project Chroma Key. This week, it's the other former keyboardist for the band, Derek Sherinian. Sherinian joined after Moore left, soon leaving himself, to be replaced by Jordan Rudess. One of Sherinian's first musical adventures was the Planet X album in 1999, an album that spawned another band for him called Planet X, who last year released Universe. Along with Dream Theater bassist John Myung, King's X's vocalist/guitarist Ty Tabor, and drummer Rod Morgenstein, Sherinian formed Platypus, a band that has so far produced two albums - When Pus Comes To Shove (1999) and Ice Cycles (2000). Sherinian also appeared on the ELP tribute disk Encores, Legends and Paradox, lending his fleet fingers to the track "Tarkus," and on the Jethro Tull tribute To Cry You A Song (both from Magna Carta).

So now it's 2001, and Sherinian has a new solo album on offer. This is far more a jazz-rock affair than Planet X, but energetic metal isn't absent. Joining Sherinian on this outing is a variety of artists. On guitar it's Steve Lukather and Zakk Wylde, on drums Simon Phillips, and on bass Tom Kennedy, Tony Franklin, and Jimmy Johnson. Jerry Goodman plays violin on a couple of tracks, as well. All keyboards are, of course, Sherinian. You can tell without credits which tracks Lukather plays on and which Wylde does - the former is lyrical and melodic, the latter searing and crunchy. That Phillips sounds equally at home bashing the skins with a metallic drive and caressing the kit with jazzy textures, will or will not surprise you, depending on your familiarity with Phillips and his work. These two worlds collide on "La Pera Loca" where you have a jazz feel that often has a metal intensity. "What A Shame" (a track Sherinian co-penned with Al Pitrelli (Megadeth) is the track that features both guitarists, however; Wylde on electric and acoustic and Lukather on electric. It's a mid-tempo number with soaring leads, a chugging drive -- Wylde sounds like Queen's Brian May at times tone-wise. The track is muscular without being bullying, intimidating without being overly violent, though some of the guitar work is quite vicious. You'll come out the other side, bruised and a little bloodied, but with a grin on your face. No, if you're looking to get truly brutalized, then we need look back at the bone-snapping velocity and power of "Evel Kneivel." Of the track Sherinian says: "That was a song I wrote totally with Zakk in mind. A major Ozzy Osbourne influence there. That's the only song I wrote all by myself. It's just pure aggression, pure balls. Evel Knievel was a hero when I was a kid. He was huge, just bitchin', and that song, for some reason reminds me of him."

Also featured on this album is a cover of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" which gives the classic track a few more parts, yet remaining true to the original - it isn't a note for note rendition, but it hasn't been customized beyond recognition. According to the IOMA site, Sherinian said of this track, "The key is a lot lower than the original. We down-tuned it to a low D, as opposed to a G. It's just a lot heavier, this version. I just play it in my style; I didn't stray too far on it, but the solo section, we kind of did our own way." Wylde is quite fleet fingered himself, which many of you probably know from his work with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society. To say that this is a monster version of the track might come across as cheeky and hyperbolic, but rather it's dead on! It is modern Frankenstein unbound!

"Goodbye Porkpie Hat" (a Charles Mingus composition) is a bluesy number, led by Lukather's guitar and Sherinian's keys, both of which speak with an experienced and emotional voice. It's a "all alone in the bar at 3:00 a.m." kind of number, the band is on stage noodling about and you're staring at the bottom of your last drink of the day...or first of the morning. "Astroglide" harks back to the first album, an energetic rocker that just picks you up and takes you on a dizzying ride - all told with keys, drums, and an electric electric violin (yes, yes, I said it twice). This is so up and infectious, sure to lift the spirits.

Sherinian gives everyone the space they need; meaning this very well could have gone out under a band moniker not just Sherinian's name. While the IOMA site says that the album is "a shootout between Sherinian and drum legend Simon Phillips..." I think Sherinian is far more subtle about his keyboard work. That isn't to suggest he doesn't let loose or anything, but this isn't an album where it's Sherinian all over the place and by the way he has guests ... the mix is very much a band-mix. Instruments come to for at the right time, they don't upstage each other, don't undercut what the other is's a perfect balance.

The title derives from the first track here, which begins like a scene out of Star Wars where an insane R2-D2 is shouting out profanities ... it's Goodman's electric violin that's blurbing and screeching. But soon we get a guitar rock like passage...if you were throw in a little 80s Rush into the mix you have a little idea of what you get. Things maybe tootling along in one direction, when suddenly something else comes in to shift its direction.

I like this so much better than Planet X, which I did like. My favourite track, but not by much, is "Mata Hari." It sounded so familiar to me; I was expecting that it was because of Phillips, and his Another Lifetime release, but that track isn't there. This track is shiny and crisp, and sure to appeal fans of John Scofield, as there is that kind of vibe about it (which means, I'll have to investigate whether that's why it's familiar). Of course, it is a little bit sultry, reflecting upon its namesake, down to Franklins bass, and to Lukather's guitar at the end.

While the credited part of the album ends with "Rhapsody In Black" there is an atmospheric, spacey (as in otherwordly) bit of keyboard sonics that would fit right in with almost any sci-fi film...though something like Lost In Space or Starship Troopers comes most immediately to mind

Well ... when all is said and done, this is the album to shake you out of your inertia of 2001 that's for sure.

Literary note: Mary Shelley's subtitle for her Frankenstein was "Or The Modern Prometheus" ... her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley later wrote Prometheus Unbound, and so it is to these two works that I, cheekily, refer.

Also released by InsideOut (Europe) (IOMCD077/SPV 085-41582 CD)

Inertia (4:20) / Frankenstein (3:31) / Mata Hari (6:21) / Evel Knievel (3:17) La Pera Loca (5:06) / Goodbye Porkpie Hat (6:23) / Astroglide (4:35) / What A Shame (5:01) / Rhapsody Intro (1:41) / Rhapsody In Black (- [Untitled] ) (6:40)

Derek Sherinian - keyboards
Steve Lukather - guitars (1, 3, 5, 6, 8-10)
Zakk Wylde - guitars (2, 4, 8)
Simon Phillips - drums
Tom Kennedy - bass (1, 6, 10)
Tony Franklin - bass (2 - 4, 8)
Jimmy Johnson (5)
Jerry Goodman - violin (1, 7)

Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons (1995)
Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Dream Theater - Once In A Livetime (1998)
Planet X (1998)
Platypus - When Pus Comes To Shove (1999)
Planet X - Universe (2000)
Platypus - Ice Cycles (2000)
Inertia (2001)
Planet X - Live From Oz (2001)
Planet X - Moon Babies (2002)
Black Utopia (2003)
Mythology (2004)
Blood Of The Snake (2006)
Planet X - Quantum (2007)
Molecular Heinosity (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: April 19th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 800
Language: english


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