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James Murphy
Feeding the Machine
March 1999
Released: 1999, Shrapnel
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson

Ah yessss…James Murphy is back for the attack with his much-anticipated second solo album. This album comprises of five instrumentals and five songs with guest vocals, including Clark Brown, Chuck Billy, John West, and Chris Long. Bass guitar is handled by Mr. Steve DiGiorgio, with the appearance of Stu Hamm on one track. The drum department has been divided between Deen Castronovo and Jeremy Colson, with an appearance by Chris Kontos. Keyboards are primarily played by Matt Guillory. Now that that's out of the way…let's talk about the music…

"Feeding the Machine" is a logical second step for James. It resembles his first effort, "Convergence", in many ways, which can only be expected. One major difference is the amount of keyboards used on the new album. Although they compliment the music in some cases, there are times where they don't fit. There are some cool keyboard solos however. "Feeding the Machine" is still heavy and filled with lots of killer guitar riffs, blistering leads, and uplifting harmonies. And James also incorporates new elements into the moods and playing styles, which gives the album more of a progressive sound (i.e. Dream Theater) than an aggressive sound, like some of the material on "Convergence".

The production this time is much more rich than the cold feel of "Convergence", which was a good move. The drums sound more balanced and just better overall. And there's a good amount of low bass, and because of this it's hard to hear exactly what Steve is playing, which is unfortunate since he rules. But hey, this is James' album! Speaking of which, the rhythm guitars seem a little too low in the mix, like on "Convergence" and Disincarnate's "Dreams of the Carrion Kind". But his leads have that same killer tone they had on Konkhra's "Weed Out the Weak". The vocal performances are excellent, and it's great to hear Chuck Billy again. It's also surprising to see Clark Brown on the album…and twice at that! After hearing his performance on Geezer's "Black Science", it is obvious how majestic his voice is. Thanks for bringing him in James!

Once again…no lyrics damn it! Looks like all of you are going to have to search the 'net for them! I think they should have been printed, not only because it would be nice to know what the songs are about, but also because the booklet is rather skimpy. What would have also been cool is a photo collage of the recording sessions. Overall, this album kicks ass. All Murphy fans should not hesitate in getting this CD, although be aware that it is a little less aggressive than "Convergence". Fans of progressive metal should find this album of interest too.
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