Personalities | Chris Poland | Master of Megadeth | Guitar Heroes

In the early 1980s, as the new wave of British heavy metal was taking the US by storm, an American music revolution called ‘thrash metal’ was brewing, combining the heavy sounds of metal with the unabashed aggression and speed of punk.

At the centre of this sonic storm was a young quartet called Megadeth, which featured the lightning-fast yet fluid lead licks of guitarist Chris Poland (b. 1957).

Though best known for his work in Megadeth, Poland was drawn to the complex musical style of jazz fusion as a young man, playing in a jazz-rock band called Welkin while still at high school. Upon graduation, he moved to LA, where he played in a jazz-fusion outfit called The New Yorkers from 1977 to 1982. Their complex songs and improvisations, informed by such fusion luminaries as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, proved fertile for Poland, who would later use these fusion roots to set himself apart from the myriad metal clones lining the Sunset Strip in the 1980s.

Poland joined Megadeth in 1984, recording the band’s debut, Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! (1985), and their breakthrough follow-up, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? (1986), which finds the multifaceted guitarist’s commanding chops on full display in both the title track and ‘Wake Up Dead’. Suffering from substance abuse issues, Poland was fired from the band. He eventually kicked his habits and returned to the music scene, first as a bass player with punk band The Circle Jerks and then with his first solo album, a jazz-metal opus titled Return To Metalopolis (1990). He subsequently formed the progressive fusion outfit Damn The Machine, and later, Mumbo’s Brain. Poland would once again play with Megadeth, recording several solos on the band’s 2004 release The System Has Failed.

Poland’s greatest labour of love in recent years has been OHM, a progressive metal-fusion project that spotlights his recognizable style. In 2009, Poland formed OHMphrey, a side project with Robby Pagliari of OHM, and Jake Cinninger, Kris Myers and Joel Cummins of progressive rock band Umphrey’s McGee. OHMphrey released an eponymous debut album in 2009.

Essential Recordings

Megadeth: Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!

Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?

OHM: Amino Acid Flashback

OHMphrey: OHMphrey

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