James Murphy first assaulted my virgin ears at the young age of 13 in 1990 when Death’s Spiritual Healing came out. I was just getting into the death metal scene after already being a life long fan of heavy metal. I was entering new territory and this was a completely new experience for me. Heavier technical guitar playing and nasty guttural vocals. Spiritual Healing obviously being my first death metal album, it was also the first time I was exposed to the brutal riffage of James Murphy and Chuck Schuldiner. Little did I know that James Murphy would be crossing my path many more times through my wondrous death metal journey.
James Murphy is responsible for swinging an axe in many death metal acts over the years and the mastermind behind many recordings as well. Here are a few albums that have made an impact on me personally.
With this album being my first experience in death metal I was blown away by the technical musicianship and sheer brutality of this album. I had no idea what Death would mean to me in the years to come or nor did I know that James Murphy’s style would have such an impact on me. Its been years since I have listened to this album, but I am sure if I played it again I would remember most of the riffs and solos throughout this album. Years ago I can remember sitting in my bedroom with my guitar in hand trying to learn just a couple of riffs off of the title track. Chuck Schuldiner would be responsible for most of the guitar work on this album, but James brought a lot to the table as well. You can clearly hear his style of playing mixed along with Schuldiner’s masterful work.
Obituary’s Cause of Death came out the same year as Spiritual Healing, so I got a double dose of Murphy’s commanding guitar style. As I sat in my bedroom drawing god knows what, I was listening to a freshly bought cassette tape of Obituary’s Cause of Death. Little did I know that this album would be the staple of my death metal experience. I had no idea that music could be so goddamn heavy and so fucking brutal. Just the lyrics alone were enough to make the faint hearted weak in the knees. This album is chock-full of memorable riffs and blistering solos thanks to Murphy’s brilliant style of guitar playing.
In 1993 we were blessed with the first full on release of James Murphy’s own band Disincarnate. Dreams of the Carrion Kind is a phenomenal album! It contained such great tracks as Soul Erosion and The Stench of Paradise Burning. The entire album is such a masterpiece and still stands the test of time. James didn’t pull any punches on Dreams of the Carrion Kind and pleased us all with one hell of an illustrious release. By now I was very acquainted with James Murphy’s style of playing and was aware of his ability to show everyone he could play guitar and bass and also write insanely technical and memorable music.
I don’t know about you, but I have always thought very highly of Testament and the thrashy shred worthy playing of Alex Skolnick. After the release of The Ritual I was kind of let down, but their next release, Low would completely make up for everything. James Murphy jumped on board after Alex Skolnick left the band. I had no idea how fucking epic this album was going to be. James did an out standing job of revitalizing the band and bringing an entirely different perspective to Testament. Don’t get me wrong, I love the other Testament albums just as much, but this album stands out the most. James didn’t pull any punches when he was laying down the guitar tracks for this album. All of the tracks on this album have that signature Murphy sound and recognizable guitar tone. Just an overall outstanding album!
James Murphy – Convergence 1996
James Murphy’s first solo album was released by Shrapnel Records in 1996 and also included the likes of several different artists to lend a helping hand in the development of Convergence. Such acts include Devin Townsend, Chuck Billy and Greg Howe. James did an impressive job of writing great material for this album. Every song is filled with marvelous leads and solos that would make any guitarist want to put down his axe. It did me anyway. On Convergence James really shows everyone that he his an amazing musician and that he is also very diverse when it comes to writing and recording.
These five albums are just a few that James put tons of blood, sweat and thought into. He is also responsible for playing guitar in other bands such as Cancer and has also supplied several guest solos for such great bands as Gorguts, Nevermore, Solstice and Malevolent Creation. Thanks to James Murphy my death metal experience was that much better. I will always look forward to hearing what he has in store for us next. Rumor has it James is working on a Death tribute album. I hope he succeeds in his journey and shows the world what a great guitarist and songwriter Chuck Schuldiner was.