Derek Sherinian, known as a keyboard wizard who refined the sound of Dream Theater Black Country Communion, among others, comes these days with a new solo album around the corner. Vortex’ is the name of the new record which contains eight instrumental tracks. The king of the keys has brought in with Tony Franklin and Simon Philipps a very experienced rhythm section. What is left is the magic of the electric guitar and for that Sherinian worked together with a number of well-known names.

Steve Stevens, Nuno Bettencourt, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Michael Schenker, Zakk Wylde, Mike Stern and Bumblefoot, all these exceptional guitarists have contributed their share to a very well-made record. Only ‘Scorpion’ has no prominent guitar support, which does not do any harm to the slightly jazzy piano piece. The lightly swinging sound of ‘Scorpion’ is multi-layered as well as catchy and fits easily into a bar ambience.

All other tracks on the album benefit from a dynamic coexistence of guitar and keyboards, starting with the title track ‘The Vortex’. The upbeat song is a well-chosen introduction to an album that shows that instrumental music can definitely fascinate non-musicians.

‘Vortex’ knows many shades of sound. On the one hand there is the funky ‘Key Lime Blues’ as well as the atmospheric smasher ‘Die Kobra’ and the monumental finish called ‘Aurora Australis’. The latter is the eleven-minute closing point of the album and the grande finale on an album not lacking in highlights. Slowly building up, the tune develops into a swinging and fast-paced milestone, which is convincing with different layers as well as with variety. Even though nothing is left to chance here, the closing ‘Aurora Australis’ sounds easy-going and spontaneous.

Derek Sherinian has with ‘Vortex’ a varied and multi-layered album at the start which consistently puts the song in the foreground. The skills of all involved are here a means to an end and not the center of activity. Vortex’ is an excellent instrumental album, which deserves to be listened to.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


  1. The Vortex (feat. Steve Stevens)
  2. Fire Horse (feat. Nuno Bettencourt)
  3. Scorpion
  4. Seven Seas (feat. Steve Stevens)
  5. Key Lime Blues (feat. Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather)
  6. Die Kobra (feat. Michael Schenker, Zakk Wylde)
  7. Nomad’s Land (feat. Mike Stern)
  8. Aurora Australis (feat. Bumblefoot)

Label: Inside Out Music

Genre: Prog Metal

Release Date EU: July 1st, 2022




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