I know we at AMG have had our issues with Dave Mustaine in the past and God knows we’ve certainly had our problems with a good portion of his band’s recorded output in recent years, but I still root for the guy on some level. After all the drama, drugs, depression and divahood, the man still helped invent thrash and put Metallica on the map before going on to release some seriously awesome albums on his own. That being said, it really seems as if he’s given up on releasing quality music since 2009s Endgame. Th1rt3en was a barely tolerable mess of clichéd hard rock ideas and average, but stale Megadeth rehashes, and while that album has aged miserably, it’s the freakin Sistine Chapel of metal compared to the blight that is Super Collider. Yes, Dave has retreated further down the rabbit hole of conspiracy-laden hard rock and psuedo-metal, with a large chunk of the material sounding like outtakes from Alice Cooper‘s late 80’s pop-metal comeback. To aid him on this folly, he recruited Disturbed frontman David Draiman who lends guest vocals and assists with some song writing. If that isn’t distressing enough, his parts are actually some of the better moments here! I’ll tell you all upfront, this was one of the more difficult listens I’ve had in a long time and I hate to bash a living legend, but I’m pretty much forced to!
Those who heard Th1rt3en won’t be all too shocked by the sound of tracks like “Kingmaker,” “Burn” or the title track. It’s Dave’s amalgam of the lighter Megadeth material and bare bones hard rock. While it might have looked good on paper, this stuff is tepid, lukewarm and devoid of a soul and “Burn” has a chorus so cheesy and cock rocky, it actually makes me feel embarrassed for Dave.
Similar songs like “Off the Edge” and “Beginning of Sorrow” come a tad closer to respectable, but are still painfully dull and don’t offer any reason to play them again (and lyrics like “his first name’s ward, his last is of the state” don’t help either). The boys channel just enough Pantera during “Built for War” to make you wish you were actually spinning a Pantera album and/or watching Phil kick Dave around the bayou for shits and giggles. Even worse is the attempted foray into Mumford & Sons banjo rock on “The Blackest Crow.” It’s awkward, ham-fisted and not what I want to hear on a Megadeth album.
Somewhat better is “Dance in the Rain” which channels a little of the band’s original grit as Dave drops some timely bitching about government overreach and fears of Big Brother. Draiman’s vocals are actually a boon to the song and give it some added attitude and though Dave’s a conspiracy nutter, I’m not opposed to the swipes he takes at Obama here [They’d be easier to take seriously if he was politically literate. Unfortunately, his reasoning appears to be “I don’t like Obama because: Alex Jones!” – AMG] (it also has the best riffing on the whole album). The last three songs all step up the quality a bit, with some decent ideas, but none are good enough to make me spin this albatross again.
The only redeeming thing to be found here is the guitar-work of mega talent Chris Broderick and his interplay with Dave. Broderick is a true fretboard beast and though he’s severely limited by the cardboard nature of the tunes, his talent still shines. He and Dave play well off each other and some interesting moments do happen from time to time. Sadly, all those moments takes place within poor songs, which is a classic case of Yngwie-itis. The rest of the band have their talents equally wasted on the bland metal/rock and I feel particularly bad for David Ellefson. Vocally, Dave sounds washed out and disinterested. While he was never a gifted vocalist, here he just grumbles and snarls through the songs with a flat affect. Even Ozzy has more life to his vocals on the new Sabbath and that guy has about eight feet in the fucking grave, so what’s Dave’s excuse?
Any further beating of this dead horse would be corpse abuse, so I digress. Megadeth is now in a death race with Annihilator to see which once respected thrash band can humiliate themselves more. While the safe money is on Annihilator, Super Collider clearly makes Megadeth a tempting dark horse. Endgame seems a long, long time ago, doesn’t it?