The Phoenix is the latest mostly all-instrumental outing from keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian (Sons of Apollo/Black Country Communion/Planet X/ex-Dream Theater), and as always he has assembled an all-star cast to help him fulfill his jazz-fusion & progressive rock aspirations. Co-produced by drum legend Simon Phillips, who also of course lends his percussive excellence to the entire album, The Phoenix is a masterpiece from start to finish.
Zakk Wylde & Billy Sheehan join Derek & Simon for the raucous opening title track, which starts off with the keyboard maestro laying down an almost "Eruption" sounding synth barrage before the rest of the musicians come in for what is an epic sounding heavy metal-meets-prog romp, and that's followed by what is perhaps the albums finest cut, the fusion gem "Empyrean Sky", complete with soaring soloing with Sherinian and his Sons of Apollo bandmate Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal. Steve Vai and Tony Franklin join the fray for the spaced-out metallic jams of "Clouds of Ganymede", and it's Derek on piano alongside bassit Ernest Tibb's and Phillips for the majestic and quite jazzy "Dragonfly". Thal is back along with bassist Jimmy Johnson for the grand prog-rock spectacle that is "Temple of Helios", which features torrid soloing and spectacular melodies from all involved. Joe Bonamassa joins his BCC mate for the Buddy Miles classic "Them Changes", with Joe unleashing a couple of absolutely scorching solos alongside a rampaging Sherinian, though, to be honest, this song has been done to death by so many people over the years it almost sounds out of place on this album. Extremely well done nonetheless. Rounding out this fine release is the wild "Octobous Pedigree", again featuring Thal & Johnson, and the sizzling "Pesadelo" with Megadeth lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Franklin. It's also worth mentioning that Armen Ra contributes creepy Theremin on the opening and closing tracks.
Superb musicianship and instantly memorable compositions litter The Phoenix, another stunner of any album from the genius that is Derek Sherinian. This guy never disappoints to gather a roster of superstar musicians and deliver some mind-blowing music. More please!
1) The Phoenix
2) Empyrean Sky
3) Clouds of Ganymede
5) Temple of Helios
6) Them Changes
7) Octopus Pedigree