Molecular Heinosity is Derek Sherinian’s sixth solo album. Much like its predecessor, Blood of the Snake, it sees the skilled keyboardist opting for a predominantly guitar-based album, enlisting the services of guitar heroes that include the ever-present Zakk Wylde, the terribly underrated Brett Garsed, and Rusty Cooley among others.
The first three tracks sort of recall the trilogy on Sherinian’s first album Planet X. Written and arranged by the great Virgil Donati, they inevitably lend themselves to fusion territory, often evoking the material presented on Planet X’s last album Quantum. “Antarctica” is an expansive number, with a strong rhythmic backbone and tasty synth elements. “Ascension” is comparatively more psychedelic, and a welcome change to Sherinian’s often guitar-driven new sound. With “Primal Eleven”, the drumming becomes more prominent as does Tony Franklin’s beautiful fretless bass playing. Sherinian elicits myriad synth tones out of his instrument, while the guitar work is subtly integrated into the composition.
New recruit Rusty Cooley, the amazing shred god, appears on “Frozen By Fire”, which he helped co-write. Sadly though, the tune turns out to be yet another neoclassic shred fest, bringing little novelty to the table. It’s a shame the duo couldn’t come up with more interesting ideas; actually the material on Cooley’s self-titled solo album is much better if we are talking about shred for shred’s sake.
Though this album has been marketed as a more ‘metal’ release than Sherinian’s previous outings, the only tunes that really present unbridled aggression would be “Wings of Insanity”, for its rhythmically stupefying intro, and the amazing title track, obviously influenced by the great Meshuggah. After repeat listens, it is only this track that qualifies as something new from Derek Sherinian. It boasts challenging guitar work, dense synth experimentation, and brutal onslaughts of drum and bass dominance. It would have been great if he had further experimented with this idea.
Sadly without Simon Phillips co-writing and arranging with Sherinian, Molecular Heinosity proves to be merely a mishmash of songs, partly Quantum-era fusiony tunes with the compulsory neoclassic shred (performed much better on the previous tunes by Yngwie Malmsteen) and the occasional ethnic influences.
Zakk Wylde sings on the only vocal track “So Far Gone”, laced with elements from Sherinian’s Armenian roots. It’s an average song in which Wylde attempts to revive the classic Sabbath sound, but honestly the mix of cello, metal, fusion, and ‘Ozzy’ on vocals does not quite work, rendering it somewhat overwrought.
Maybe it’s about time Derek Sherinian sat down and actually tried to compose songs on his own, without relying on big names who will help sell albums easily. There is a reason why Sherinian has never quite matched the brilliance of his first two albums, particularly Inertia. Bringing in countless shred heroes and relying on their technical proficiency obviously doesn’t cut it anymore. It seemed to work with Black Utopia and Mythology, and even Blood of the Snake to an extent, but in time these records have certainly paled in comparison to the more compositional works on the first two discs.
When I buy a Derek Sherinian album, I either want to see him compose songs that highlight his keyboard playing (like Jordan Rudess for example) or do something really interesting rather than repeating past glories. Still, for an instrumental album, Molecular Heinosity is well worth checking out. It’s just that I feel he can do better.