DAMN THE MACHINE
Progressive Metal • United States

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Damn the Machine was a short-lived progressive rock/metal band founded by ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland.

After leaving Megadeth in 1987, guitarist Chris Poland recorded a solo album in 1990 (Return to Metalopolis). Three years later, he resurfaced with the group Damn the Machine (DTM), which included his brother Mark on drums, as well as Dave Clemmons on vocals/guitar, and David Randi on bass. While the group was indeed heavy, their sound was slightly more progressive than Poland's previous band, perhaps more comparable to the likes of Queensryche and Fates Warning but with a jazzier twist and politically charged lyrics.

The band signed a deal with A&M records in 1993, and their self-titled debut album was released the same year. It was recorded & produced by Brian Malouf (known for his work with among others Pearl Jam, Queen, Extreme, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lisa Loeb and Jean-Luc Ponty). The band toured with
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.. Album Cover 2.71 | 5 ratings
Damn the Machine
Progressive Metal 1993

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DAMN THE MACHINE Damn the Machine

Album · 1993 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Damn the Machine" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by US heavy rock/metal act Damn the Machine. The album was released through A&M Records in June 1993. Damn the Machine was founded by former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and includes his brother Mark on drums. Dave Clemmons on vocals/guitar, and David Randi on bass completes the lineup. Chris Poland released a solo album in 1990, but apparently missed playing in a band constellation and thus Damn the Machine was born.

The music on the album is a sophisticated type of heavy rock/metal with slight jazz rock/fusion leanings. The latter stylistic element is rather subdued though, and only heard on occasion. While I initially expected the album to be loaded with instrumental music, that´s actually far from the truth, as the music on the album features vocals. The instrumental parts (parts without vocals) are usually sections with guitar solos, so overall the music is pretty regular vers/chorus structured heavy rock/metal. It´s generally well written and relatively catchy, but honestly I only remember very few tracks once the album has ended, and that of course a minor issue, even though the album is highly enjoyable while it plays. There´s an almost easy listening and accessible way about the music, even though it occasionally rocks pretty hard.

The musicianship is strong on all posts, although Dave Clemmons hasn´t got the most remarkable or distinct sounding voice. There´s nothing wrong with his skills though, and his performance on this album is passionate and suits the music well. The rest of the band are very well playing too, and not surprisingly some of the highlights are Chris Poland´s guitar solos, but also the rather intriguing rhythm section, and the general guitar work on the album.

While Damn the Machine generally sounds very little like Megadeth, I still think there are some features on the album that remind me of the most soft and rock oriented tracks by the Dave Mustaine led act. The sound production which is clear, organic, and detailed also lead my thoughts in the direction of the early 90s releases by Megadeth.

Upon conclusion "Damn the Machine" is a quality release and a relatively great debut album by Damn the Machine. The band would be short lived though and this would be their only album release before disbanding. They probably lacked that last punch and memorability in their songwriting to instantly succeed, but there is definitely potential here for something greater. Although that was never to happen a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved for this album.

DAMN THE MACHINE Damn the Machine

Album · 1993 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Negoba
Historical CD for Chris Poland and Prog Metal Librarians

I really like Chris Poland. His work on Megadeth's Peace Sells is superb, IMO tastier than anything shredder Marty Friedman did with the band. Damn the Machine was a project Poland created after his departure from Megadeth, along with his brother Mark on drums, Dave Clemmons on vocals and guitars, and David Randi on bass. The single CD they produced sounds very much like Dream Theater with more jazz, less shredding, and less complex rhythms. Clemmons sounds very much like Labrie with the cheese turned down a bit.

From today's perspective, this disc seems like yet another DT clone. In fact, it is more likely the band influenced DT than the other way around, as DtM opened for DT during the Images and Words tour. The albums came out the same year and Poland was much more experienced on the big stage than any of the members of DT at that point. DT's subsequent album incorporates heavier elements and the riffs definitely have moved in the direction of Poland's, with more open space and syncopation.

There are some great musical ideas on this disc. "On with the Dream" and "Russians" have some interesting clean guitar ideas, showing Poland's jazz influence which he will later pursue to great effect in the trio Ohm:. The riffing is good, fairly typical of prog metal in general, and the lyrics are intelligently political. The guitars sound great, one each hard left and hard right. In metal style, they play in unison for a "big stereo" sound during much of the riffing, but then split to complement each other. Poland's soloing is tasty and frankly quite restrained. To really experience his monster talent, the first Ohm: album is a better starting place.

The biggest problem with the album is lack of memorable melodies and a little too much polish. This is rock and it doesn't seem very risky. I keep waiting for a truly great song to champion the album, and it never comes. ("On with the Dream" comes closest.) While DT is often criticized for being over-the-top, it is exactly those extreme elements that have kept them alive, and why they (deservedly) emerged while this band (with at least equal talent) dissolved. Poland went on to jazz-fusion which suits his playing better than any of his metal projects, and DT went on to lead prog metal through the dark days of the mid 90's through its resurgence now.

This is mainly a Poland collector item. His solo "Return to Metalopolis" is actually better material from the same time period. The first Ohm: album is his best work, but is jazz fusion. I'm a Poland fanatic, and only others like me need this one.

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