Rating: 4.5/5.0 – An excellent and pleasant surprise, but someone make sure this man isn’t stockpiling fertilizer!
Label: Roadrunner
Preview the Album:
Release Dates: EU: 14.09.2009 | USA: 09.15.2009

MEGADETHENDGAME-COVER-435x435Megadeth became the coolest thing since Metallica the year that I turned 9.  The band’s big mainstream breakthrough Countdown to Extinction was a classic record in many respects, because it took thrash metal that hadn’t been produced by Bob Rock and turned it into a mainstream thing.  I still love that record and it’s follow up Youthanasia but I have a long-standing dislike for Dave Mustaine as a person, musician and I’m sure that those of you who know me or have read this blog know how I feel about Megadeth‘s discography.  If you don’t, I’ll clarify: Megadeth stinks.  All-in-all, I think that the band’s discog is totally spotty, the writing has always been mediocre, I think that Friedman was an overrated player and I’m surprised that Megadeth didn’t go away for good after Mustaine’s wrist injury fiasco.

So I must say that I am incredibly surprised to tell you that Endgame was posted online on the Megadeth myspace, and it has accomplished two amazing feats: first, it has justified Roadrunner picking up the band, which I thought was a total mistake at the time; and secondly, it seriously impressed me.  Gone are the annoying stoppy riffs and sloppy solos that have marred the band in this post-Friedman period. Now, the riffing is great, the solos are outstanding and the drums are full on excellent (and if I could hear the bass, I’d suspect it’s awesome, too).

Not only that, but the tracks are stand-out, memorable and heavy (with a couple of notable exceptions).  “Dialectic Chaos” is an excellent lead-in, which rolls into the unrelenting “This Day We Fight,” and the record doesn’t let up after this awesome build up.  Tracks like “1,320′” and “Headcrusher” (which is the weakest track on this album, in my opinion, I’m actually really surprised they released it as a single) will thrill the classic fan, while fans of later Megadeth (say the Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction era, like myself) will also dig on tracks like “How the Story Ends” and “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…”.  This record has it all.

And really, it’s not just that the songs are good, but they’re way more polished and smart than they used to be, as well.  Sure, the band tried to wander into commercial territory (because, G-d forbid Mustaine not imitate Metallica), but Mustaine could never produce the kind of catchy, smart choruses that show up in “The Right to Go Insane”.  Unfortunately I don’t have access to the writing credits and stuff, but I wonder if much of this improvement has to do with the involvement of Chris Broderick (ex-Jag Panzer).  Broderick’s solos are stellar, and a lot of the improvements sound like things one would expect to find on a modern power metal record, and not only that but there are a few places where keyboards show up.  I might be wrong, but the sound is just way fuller and balls-to-the-walls than I was expecting, and Broderick is the change that shows.

It’s good to see a classic band be able to pull out the chops when it matters most.  United Abominations was widely considered to be a success, but I still thought it was a lackluster album.  Endgame doesn’t disappoint.  In fact, the only thing about Endgame that disappoints is Dave Mustaine’s continued wanderings into “wing nut” territory.  Endgame wanders into the political MegadethPromoconspiracy theorist end of things that make me worry about Mustaine and whether or not he, too, has been watching those 9/11 truth videos and has succumbed to the “New World Order is going to implant chips into us in order to develop a worldwide monetary system thereby controlling mankind with CREDIT!” side of his (relatively) new-found faith.  The whole lyrical clusterfuck that shows up on the title track is impressively nutty, going so far as to include reference to this whole “concentration camp” kerfuffle that has the lunatic fringe of the right wing having cows.  Though, granted, this isn’t entirely new territory for him, but I’m worried that he might think that health care reform is just an excuse to “pull the plug on granny.”

But honestly, aside from his ridiculous lyrics and his “I’m getting older” vocal performance, Megadeth hasn’t sounded this confident since Rust in Peace, and I think that this is a better album (but I know that I’m probably alone in that).  But my argument goes like this: the songwriting is more mature, more confident and the playing is just way better.  Megadeth has gone forward instead of backwards, or stagnating and managed a feat I never expected of them: they produced a pretty kick ass record.

  • Great review. Very fair from someone who doesn’t particularly like Mustaine, heh. I’m a bigger Megadeth fan than you and am not disappointed with the new record at all. Can’t wait to see this stuff live.

    • It’s hard to argue with a record like this. If it’s good, it’s good. And this record is really solid.

  • Huh. Who would have thought that Mustaine would pull off another decent record. Certainly not me. I’ll have to check it out.

    • I never thought I’d live to see the day. But turns out he had one more in him.

  • DeathShrike

    You sold me on your blog with this review. I need a reviewer who won’t give every new Megadeth album 5 stars. United Abominations was a horrendous album wildly over-praised, which resulted in my not bothering with this equally acclaimed album. But now I will. Thanks! I will follow your angry shit.

    • Well, I hope I don’t disappoint you. Not everyone loved it, but I did. Surprisingly much, actually. Chris Broderick is a beast.

  • Darth Meow 504

    I’m listening to the album right now, and I’m not sure I get why someone who hasn’t liked most of the Megadeth catalogue will suddenly like this one. I’ve bought every one since The World Needs a Hero new at release (the others I had to backfill my collection long after they were new) and this release is no great departure. It’s very much on the same lines as The System Has Failed, which in turn was very similar to it’s successor United Abominations. Very solid stuff, fast and aggressive and very true to what made their fanbase love them in the first place.

    It’s great that a guy who formerly only liked the lightweight 90s fluff-metal stuff say he’s suddenly liking this album, but those fans who have been with this band for the long haul shouldn’t worry that they’ve suddenly veered back into the 90s mainstream metal-lite. Quite the opposite, this album should appeal the fans of their last two albums and those who loved the band “Back in the Day”, so to speak.

    In fact, I’d suggest that the reviewer give TSHF and UA another listen if he likes this one. And for those who (as I do) love both those albums, this one will not disappoint.

    • Two things: the “light weight fluff” stuff was way better written than TWNaH and UA. Those records suck. The writing is boring and lame. It had a lot more to do with convincing songwriting and good song structures than anything else. Both Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction were good because they were produced to hell. What killed Metallica made Megadeth great, imo.

      What differentiates Endgame from the other records is that the songwriting is way better. As I say in the review, he’s stopped doing the stupid mock blues riff – vocal – riff thing that is so pathetic. Not only that, but the guitar solos and melodies on this album are heads and shoulders above anything that the band has done since Friedman left the band, and I think that Broderick is a way better guitar player. This combination of better songwriting and excellent guitar work has created a Megadeth album that, while not terribly different in style, is markedly different in substance.

      Also, as you will see from the comments and as I have seen from personal correspondence: I am not the only person who thought that UA and TWNaH were utter crap or at least mediocre who was then impressed with Endgame. It tells me that this record is something different.

  • hookinmouth

    I thought this album was pretty good too. I believe that the aggression and overall thrash aspect was a little more obvious here; which is what most megadeth fans from the early days (like me) really wanted. There were some things that were a little undercooked tho. I was hard pressed to find songs as impressive as addicted to chaos and train of consequences for example on endgame.

    I disagree with the reviewers comments about marty not being as good as chris.. and most certainly disagree with any argument about rust in peace being anything other than perfection – because 1. marty at his most inspired used technique, phrasing and melody in a way that most guitar players only wish they could. 2. rust in piece’s production is classic sounding, raw and real.. and that’s part of what gives that album it’s charm! If it was super slick it wouldn’t sound as cool. (like the old slayer records or kill ’em all) 3. rust in piece came out at a time that made it stand out like dog’s balls!

    I agree that UA and TWNAH only had a couple of cool songs here and there.. and unlike the reviewer, I do prefer some of the more simple tracks such as kick the chair, lucretia and headcrusher.. because they allow the essence of mustaine’s character (one of a dangerous kick ass riffmaster with attitude and formidable venomous spite) to shine.

    The world of metal has come so far since the 80’s and 90’s.. and to try and match some of todays mindfuckingly good bands with some of yesterday’s heroes is unfair; it’s much healthier to appreciate the band for what they do well.. and endgame shows megadeth doing what they do just fine. It’s no classic.. and dave is an old prick publishing books now.. but it’s no steaming pile of dung either. 3.5/5 for me.

  • Jae Aytch

    Not to troll up an album that has been released for a while, but after seeing Megadeth live this year, I know why this album has that “it” factor. And you nailed it, there is no question in my mind either: Chris Broderick. When I saw them I was more interested in seeing Slayer (albeit for the third time). But when Megadeth came on, this “new” guitar player ripped the shit out of every solo with ease from RIP (including the little clean run from Holy Wars) and beyond. Who the hell is this guy!? Was all I could ask. I think Broderick ruined Slayer for me that night too. After the near flawless execution, Slayer (particularly Jeff Hanneman) seemed more wanky than usual.

    Anyway, sorry to chime in on an older post, but better late then never…

    • Comments are always appreciated. But yeah, man, it’s fucking Broderick. He’s a beast of a guitarist. I saw him back when he was in … whatever the fuck band he was in before. They opened up for Iced Earth (Jag Panzer, that’s it!) and they sucked: but he was goddamned amazing. He just stood there with a grin on his face the whole time making eye contact with every individual in that club while doing ridiculous shit on that guitar. The way he looks that man spends 8 hours a day practicing guitar, 8 hours a day lifting weights, and the rest eating protein. Holy crap.

  • Steel Druhm

    Broderick was in Jag Panzer (who rule BTW).

  • Keeper

    The weirdest thing for me is that “Rust” and “Countdown”, which is my favorite, is that those albums were really catchy. You could go from song to song, and it’s just catchy material. Besides the fact that they were heavy, great solos, Mustaine could still sing like a brutal maniac, blah, blah, blah… it was catchy material. Which to me, combined with the actual metal, makes for perfection.
    This new album is great, but I don’t feel it comes close to being better than most past records.
    And Mustaine is such a hypocrite. He becomes a born again Christian and now everything is cool. Not to knock any sort of religion, but let’s not use it as an excuse for “keeping it together”. Probably why Megadeth fell apart there for a while, anyway.
    And I actually think Headcrusher is a great F’n song.

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  • Andy Pandy

    Mustaine asked Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) to join but he was doing his solo album at the time and recommended Chris Broderick (on hold in Nevermore).Jeff Loomis vs C Broderick is really a no clue on how the sound would have changed Megadeth.I think it would have been even heavier with Loomis,but just download his solo album (Zero order Phase (instrumental). and Plains of oblivion (guest artist). )

    But imagine these two together in a future Nevermore album,god.