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Damn the Machine "s/t" CD

Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2009 @ 8:08am » permalink

Damn the Machine - s/tI wrote about Damn the Machine's lone self-titled CD many years ago on the first version of my site (in fact, if I'm not mistaken, one of the "reviews" on Amazon.com lifts what I said word for word), and as far as I'm concerned it still remains one of the most criminally underrated albums that's ever been released. If you didn't know, Damn the Machine was formed by Chris Poland (with his brother Mark on drums) several years after his departure from Megadeth, and this disc came out in 1993 on A&M Records. One of my best friends introduced me to this band shortly after the album was released, and I distinctly remember that despite his raves, I hated it. I bought a used copy of the CD for a couple bucks, but I couldn't stand the vocals and just didn't "get" the overall tone of the music. It's heavy, but it's not really metal, and I guess teenage me just didn't know what to make of it at first. But the disc stayed in a "limbo" box, and I revisited it every six months or so. Then, at some point within the following couple of years, it finally clicked.

Listening to it now, I honestly don't know what the hell I was hearing back then, 'cause I love it. I guess I can still understand how the vocals might take some getting used to, and there are definitely some quirky little oddball riffs to be found here and there, but… everything about the entire album is fuckin' incredible. It's just this weird fusion of jazzy progressive rock with hints of metal thrown in. And the recording's a little strange, too! The hard-panned guitars each have their own unique tones throughout, pretty much always playing off of one another and additionally interacting with the plunky and prominent bass runs, and the blend of unusual tones/textures creates this odd, "naturally unnatural" atmosphere that really works with the creativity of the arrangements. But for all the artistry and complexities (both subtle and overt) that are present, the record's also packed with solid songs. The quality of the musicianship yields some absolutely beautiful clean passages and fluid soloing, not to mention loads of killer vocal harmonies and memorable hooks.

While I wouldn't call the album wildly diverse as a whole, it's far from one-sided, and the band would've had an impressively wide range of styles to continue exploring had they pressed on. But sadly, an apparent lack of label support led the band to call it a day all too soon. According to Wikipedia they toured Europe with Dream Theater, which makes sense, but… hitting North America with Voivod, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Excel? In 1993? That's… perhaps a little wacky, and probably didn't do the band any favors. But hey, that's life, I guess, and regardless, this is such a great record. I know there are still more people out there that need to check this shit out…

Damn the Machine "The Mission"
Damn the Machine "Countryside"

I can't believe this thing isn't even available on iTunes or anything like that!? But as is often the case with out of print unsung classics, you can find used copies on Amazon.com for a few bucks or less, so grab one while you can if you like what you hear. I won't be surprised if it never gets reissued, and one day it'll probably be sought after enough to fetch unreasonable prices…

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com

8 Comments...

  1. Carlos says:

    really interesting music indeed! i only miss the different vocal approach, not just singing. but instrumentally this is great!

  2. Paul says:

    Good timing I was listening to this last week. "The Mission" is one of my favorite tracks EVER. Overall this one has held up well through the years. A great album recommended for fans of progressive music. I saw them on that Voivod tour…I wanna say Clutch played too (it was a strange bill) but good show.

  3. rage says:

    I'm so glad you posted this. I loved this album as soon as I picked it up, after getting a sample 3-track demo tape from World Records in Albany. Compelled to write them when I saw that they read all mail, I told Chris that I was really impressed and would love if he could sign the tape cover. He mailed it back right away with a note alluding to a song title. Great pick.

  4. This is one of my favorite prog records, and I agree that it's criminally underrated. I can't wait for someone to post on YouTube the one video that they made. I had that on videotape back in the day!

    Chris Poland is the man.

  5. Wooderson says:

    Everything Chris has done has been pretty stellar. I was lucky enough to see Damn The Machine open for VoiVod years ago and that show still remains to be one of my favorite.

  6. Edwin says:

    I remember seeing this band at Aardschokdag 1993 (an old Dutch metalfest), they were quite impressive on stage. Warrior Soul blew away every other band that played that day tho.

  7. Howard says:

    Great post Andrew! Why this album is so criminally under the radar is beyond me, especially considering it's among Chris Poland's best work. I tend to be quite picky about prog rock/metal in general, but this one really clicked with me immediately. Great musicianship with cohesive songwriting, and none of the self-indulgent wankery that plagues most prog bands.

  8. Mario says:

    Could someone pls upload The Mission video on youtube? Thx