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Ohm - Ohm CD (album) cover

OHM

Ohm

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.80 | 16 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Reborn Guitar Monster Creates Modern Jazz-Fusion Masterpiece

Chris Poland has been an amazing guitarist for over 25 years, and despite his talent being evident even above the 80's thrash speed demons, he has continued to improve to the point that now he may be among the best guitarists alive. Dave Mustaine, who brought Poland to recognition by tapping him for the first firm incarnation of Megadeth, is usually fairly backhanded in his praise. And yet, despite deep personal betrayals, Mustaine continues to ask Poland for leads, and has said "he just plays circles around me." Poland played on the metal classic "Peace Sells." and actually played the initial leads for Megadeth's other colossal peak "Rust in Peace" before Marty Friedman was brought in to re-record.

So the guy can play. But what immediately grabs your attention is his tone and his expression. He phrases more like a sax or keyboard player, and in fact sites Jan Hammer of Mahavishnu Orchestra as one of his main influences. He slides in and out of notes, hits multiple ghost bends on the same fret, techniques initially designed to mimic a keyboard's pitch wheel. Now it is all incorporated into the largest expressive palette I've heard. Period. And I have been a guitar nerd for over 20 years. His touch is beyond Jeff Beck, his speed and fluidity nearing Shawn Lane.

Though very good in Megadeth and the following project Damn the Machine, Poland's playing is so much better now. At least part of this is shedding his appetite for drugs that actually rivaled Mustaine's, but just as important is, in his words, the choice "to just play what we want to play and let the chips fall." Ohm: is the jazz fusion project that Poland always wanted, the sound that he spent his hours in the bedroom and practice room preparing for. What's more, I would argue that the first Ohm: album is Poland at his best. There's an edginess to the playing that is not quite as prevalent in the follow-up. He pulls an incredible amount of tones from his touch (and an enormous rack) but instead of sounding like play day at the guitar store, it just sounds fluid and natural.

As others have said Ohm: is not just a guitar showcase. The compositions are intricate, interesting, and very melodic. It's not free form jazz either, though there is a bit of improvisation where all three players call and respond, intertwining lines, and feeding off each other's energy. Bassist Robert Pagliari, who Poland played with for several years prior to joining Megadeth, moves from simple and tasty to madman. Drummer David Eagle was a session / teaching drum veteran who literally played everything but the kitchen sink with a rack that looked like two octopi failed in their attempt to run the Kama Sutra.

The music is deceptively listener-friendly, sounding a little like Eric Johnson with the backing band allowed to play just as aggressively as the lead guitar. But like any good music, deeper nuances can be heard with repeated listens. It's a disc that for me is just hard to take off the player. As jazz fusion goes, if this isn't a modern masterpiece, I'm not sure what is.

Negoba | 5/5 |

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