Before his tumultuous stint with Megadeth, Chris Poland was a celebrated guitarist in jazz and fusion circles. After being kicked out by Mustaine and Co he returned to his fusion and jazz roots with a couple of solo albums and a progressive band called Damn The Machine. This ensemble folded soon after the release of its self titled debut album. Poland continued with his jazz and fusion adventures in a band called Ohm. The album by Damn The Machine got rather overlooked over the years, hence the reason to give it some much deserved attention by means of this review.
Despite the album being released back in 1993 it still sounds remarkably fresh. Most of the songs are relatively short but do display a very high technical level, mostly due to the innovate and tasteful guitar playing by Poland and the jazz inspired bass parts by Dave Randi.
The material is somewhat in the vein of Queensryche (Empire) and Fates Warning (Parallels) albeit way more jazzier. The emphasis is on well written songs but with a fairly technical undercurrent. This is perfectly demonstrated in tracks like The Mission, Corporate Reign, Lonesome God, Patriot and Russians.
Damn The Machine also seems inspired by Jane’s Addiction when it comes to incorporating all kinds of different styles such as samba (On With The Dream), funk (Lonesome God) and a chunk of blues (Silence). Despite all these different styles Damn The Machine still manage to make it flow naturally. Singer/guitarist Dave Clemmons has some capable pipes and skinsman Mark Poland proves himself a solid drummer keeping it all together with his groovy way of playing.
The production by Mark Malouf is a bit rough around the edges, but it does give this album an almost punk rock feel.
It’s regrettable that Damn The Machine broke up after the release of this album. The band showed immense potential. Despite all this the song material aged well and I’m sure this album is still a very rewarding listening experience when you’re into Queensryche, Fates Warning and latter day Cynic.
written by Raymond Westland