Fans of Instrumental Metal and the early Thrash pioneers will want their thinking caps on as they debate over this purchase. “Return To Metalopolis Live” captures a glimpse at an innovative guitarist’s departing performances after MEGADETH and features three tracks (“Return To Metalopolis,” “Khazad Dum,” and “Theatre Of The Damned”) from the flawless release “Return To Metalopolis.” Released seven years after CHRIS POLAND’s masterful “Chasing The Sun” (and not-so-special “Rare Trax”) this compilation boasts three additional live tracks, two studio tracks, and a live video clip that provide a glimpse at a simpler and perhaps purer time in metal history.
As the only person praised by Dave Mustaine for proper usage of the whammy bar CHRIS POLAND played fairly well during his 1991 performance at the Mason Jar in Phoenix, Arizona. The recognizable tracks on this release don’t quite demonstrate a mastery of the original material, but songs such as “Psycho Boy” and “Nightmare Hall” demonstrate why POLAND is a milestone along the evolutionary metal highway. His performances mesmerize and his style flows in a manner that many finer guitarists cannot replicate (and certainly could not compose) even in today’s digitally enhanced world.
More important, however, is the confirmation of brother Mark Poland’s talent behind the drum kit. Mark outshines his brother in terms of living up to the original recording on stage, and his contributions encompass (as always in my opinion) everything that a drummer should accomplish when supporting a lead guitarist: he never overplays his part, he keeps a core tempo to act as a beacon when others in the group go astray, and he nails every last beat with precision and an innate sense of dynamics that holds the entire performance in check.
The unreleased studio demo “Pandora” and the OHM: B-side “Tin Man” are fair representations of Poland’s ever-impressive studio musicianship, but the curiosity that those outside of the Los Angeles area have toward Chris’s live performances will draw far more metal heads to purchase “Return To Metalopolis Live” (regardless of the criticisms that I and others may have).
Perhaps the greatest expectation that I should set in this review lies in the fact that if I knew enough about CD burners to identify the exact spot where the live version of “Wake Up Dead” begins and ends I would take an Exacto-knife and remove this blemish from the recording. Why Chris, Mark, or Dave Randi allowed the inclusion of this travesty floors me. Dave sounds nothing like Dave Mustaine and he brings little more than cheese to call his own in the performance. The song lacks all the intensity found on “Peace Sells . . . But Who’s Buying?” and its lead work (including Poland’s) resembles little more than a garage band’s attempt to make the master’s work their own. This track forbids any critic from scoring the release in the highest available caliber and should serve as a warning to purchasers of one key fact: If Poland’s 1990’s performances were as flawless as his studio releases we would be holding a double CD release in our hands rather than a 6-track sampling with bonus tracks.
(Online July 24, 2007)