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Poland's Swansong? - 52%

DawnoftheShred, February 18th, 2009

The second (and to date final) Chris Poland solo release is Chasing the Sun. Clearing the metal elements completely out of his sound, it’s a pure jazz fusion record, but might still be of interest to his fans. This is what I figured going into this album, but I’ve got to say I was a bit disappointed.

Realistically, this should be a lot better than Return to Metalopolis. After all, this is Poland in his natural element. Jazz was his mainstay before Megadeth, so revisiting the style should only yield good results. And yet I find myself gravitating away from Chasing the Sun in favor of his debut. No doubt that Poland’s guitarwork is excellent, but with all of the metal elements stripped away his compositions come off as pretty bland. The main themes are quickly dismissed as if they were tedious necessities standing in the way of the solos, a presentation which is fundamentally opposed to compositional logic. It’s the thematic elements that remain with the listener long after the song is over, not the flurry of notes crammed into the bridge (however technical in execution). The only exception to this is for listeners that have never heard a good guitar player before, for whom every solo is a fresh passage of discovery.

Basically, I feel the record is a bit too self-indulgent. Where as Return to Metalopolis had a lot of strong tracks on it (“Row of Crows” kicks ass), this is almost entirely mellow noodling. It’s a bit strange to say this (as the only real ties between them are that they both were former Megadeth axemen and I’ve reviewed their albums recently), but I’d recommend Marty Friedman’s solo material over this; at least he can show a little restraint. For Poland fans looking to hear his post-Megadeth highlights, you’d be wiser to start at his debut or Damn The Machine’s self-titled album.