Megadeth – Endgame
Rating: 4.5/5.0 – An excellent and pleasant surprise, but someone make sure this man isn’t stockpiling fertilizer!
Preview the Album: myspace.com/megadeth
Release Dates: EU: 14.09.2009 | USA: 09.15.2009
Megadeth 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 conspiracy 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.