Megadeth // Th1rt3en
Rating: 3.0 —.5 is reserved specifically for Chris Broderick for being a beast.
Label: Roadrunner Records
Websites: megadeth.com | myspace.com/megadeth | facebook.com/megadeth
Release Dates: EU: 2011.11.02 | US: 11.01.2011
When Megadeth released Endgame in 2009, I was noticeably effected. This was Megadeth like we hadn’t really heard them since (arguably) Youthanasia, and for more fans, much earlier than that. It was a refreshed band with excellent writing and guitar work that matched the Marty Friedman days. The songs were well written, catchy and the record was tightly edited and honed down to perfect vinyl length. Honestly, Endgame was a record that I don’t think anyone but the most idealistic of Megadeth fans could even have been expecting. And though at the time I joked that we should make sure that Mustaine wasn’t stockpiling fertilizer, (I still hold firm to that belief) the record has aged pretty well. That, of course, means that there are some expectations for Th1rt3en. Expectations that this record, for example, will not suck.
Th1rt3en doesn’t suck. I can say that from the get-go. Musically, while this record is not as dark and thrashy as Endgame was, it is musically superior to anything that Megadeth put out between Youthanasia and Endgame. While “Sudden Death” starts out a little off, it works into a catchy chorus and some fantastic soloing. The same is true of “Never Dead” and “Public Enemy No. 1,” while the track “New World Order” is a driving track that wanders into some pretty cool progressive area musically. But it’s true that this album is a lot more “driving music,” or sort of driven tracks that are more akin to “Angry Again” or “99 Ways to Die.” that is to say direct. See almost any track on here, “Wrecker” or “Deadly Nightshade” or… well, you get the picture. The dark and thrashy approach that characterized Endgame goes missing, definitely.
These tracks lead to copious amount of head nodding, which is always a good sign. And I do really dig some of this stuff, but there are some things that really stick out for me. First, this record is too long. At an hour, it contains two or three songs too many. Unlike Endgame, which felt like an ass-kicking at 45 minutes long, Th1rt3n loses me at about “Wrecker” and I just have trouble staying tuned in. This isn’t a good thing. And while the music is great and there are some really good solos (let’s just say that this Angry Metal Guy thinks that Chris Broderick is the best thing that ever happened to Megadeth) and some good writing, the tracks feel a bit tired at times and they don’t hide something that is becoming more and more of a deal breaker for me.
The deal breaker is the lyrics. Th1rt3en wanders between the inane (“Whose life is this anyway?” Well, Dave, given that you’re a grown man, it’s yours, so do something about it) and the insane (“I’ve seen the future / One of calamity / The coming plagues / of the new disease / The Illuminati / One world currency / One world religion / One world everything!”), from “We the People,” though this is offset by an amazing fucking solo) and the downright stupid (“Monitoring our wages / New World Order comes in stages”). It’s ironic that as he’s gotten older Mustaine’s politics apparently have gotten stupider and I really think he believes this stuff. It’s one thing if this is fiction, it’s another thing if this dude is really listening to Alex Jones and writing this kind of crap in paranoid fits in the middle of the night. I’m guessing that the creators of Fallout could make a pretty funny town in an upcoming release of the game where Dave Mustaine and Jon Schaffer have joined together to create the most metal of post-apocalyptic villages,”what with them both being so well-prepared. This stuff is silly and the lyrics aren’t good and they kind of piss on the songs. Mustaine has never been a lyrical genius, but I don’t recall it ever being this bad before.
Still, I guarantee you that fans of the band will like this record. There’s plenty of musical goodness to enjoy and Mustaine’s paranoid politics aside, it’s got some really enjoyable moments. I need to come back to the point that Chris Broderick is a total beast again, though. I reserved .5 of this 3.0 score for him because his guitar playing is worth owning this record for. His solos are fantastic and he brings an energy to this project that has been missing for along time. So more power to him and I hope that he stays on and helps Mustaine through his apparently very difficult and paranoid time.
Oh, btw, Dave, the magical Endgame Document that disappeared and can’t be found is located here [PDF].
Megadeth // Th1rt3en
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —Symphony of distraction
By: Steel Druhm
It seems 2011 is the year of the so-called “Big Four.” We’ve had a tour of 80s giants Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica, a long-awaited release by Anthrax and now, the new Megadeth platter arrives. In all fairness and candor, the very originally titled Th1rt3en (it’s their thirteenth album) has the misfortune of following Endgame, one of Megadeth‘s best albums in years. That means expectations are significantly higher than usual. Making matters much worse, Mustaine & crew chose this of all times to adopt a more melodic, hard rockish and at times, poppy style. Naturally, the combination of these two factors doesn’t bode well for Big Dave’s shiny new product and Th1rt3en is a large step back from Endgame. While there are a few examples of vintage Deth, this just isn’t a very good collection of songs. There are several factors working against it and by the time this runs its course, a lot of people are going to feel underwhelmed and frustrated.
Things start out very well with “Sudden Death,” which has all the classic Deth elements in force and working overtime. There’s guitar pyrotechnics, especially from new guitar monster Chris Broderick (ex Jag Panzer), loads of aggression and Dave’s patented snarl. It’s so vital, it reminds you why this band has remained relevant for so long. If the rest of Th1rt3en was like this, it would be big money. However, things immediately dive into silly, overly commercial radio rock like “Public Enemy NO. 1” (which sounds like an Alice Cooper song from his late 80s pop-metal period) and “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?).” From there, we get the bland “We the People” which is crushed under the weight of unbelievably bad political lyrics that may have come from a Fourth Grade Civics textbook. Seriously, I don’t care a bit about Mustaine’s political opinions but when the lyrics are this hackneyed and cheeseball, it undermines all my attempts to take things seriously. Other failures include the filler demons “Guns, Drugs and Money” and “Fast Lane” (which has lyrics that make “I Can’t Drive 55” seem profound by comparison [And rhymes stolen directly from The Box Tops‘s “The Letter” – AMG]). After suffering through tracks like these, I couldn’t help but think of the recent Annihilator output and their oh-so-cheese-tastic quasi-thrash. While “Never Dead,” “New World Order” and “Millenium of the Blind” are all respectable, they just aren’t good enough to salvage an album steeped in mediocrity (which goes on for three songs too long).
What does almost salvage things is Mr. Broderick’s amazing playing. The man is unbelievable and if ever there was a guitar hero, he’s it. Almost every song gets elevated by his fluid shredding and lead-work. If Davey boy had managed to write slighty better songs, Broderick’s fret mastery would have carried them all to victory. As it is, he can only help stave off a total collapse. While his songwriting clearly isn’t up to snuff, Dave’s playing and vocals are in fine form and his snarl sounds as good as ever. Musically, these cats are beyond reproach and as a unit, they sound tight and dangerous, even on the slower songs (of which there are many).
This brings me back to another major source of irritation: the lyrics. They’reÂ partic-ularly cringe-worthy across most of Th1rt3en and they seriously impair my appreciation of several songs. While I don’t buy a Megadeth platter for Dave’s poetic word play, he really shits the bed on many of the songs and some of his word choices had me throwing up my hands in dismay. Maybe its the therapy sessions with Lars or too much interweb time on Jon Schaffer approved, geo-political conspiracy sites, but Dave really phoned it in this time. When the songs themselves are this iffy, bad lyrics are the wet French kiss of deth (yes, I’m funny [Oh-so-very funny! – AMG]).
So there you have it, this isn’t one of the better releases in Megadeth‘s considerable discography. It has moments (largely supplied by Broderick) but overall, this one is gonna collect a whole lot of dust on my CD shelf in the coming years. If you worship these guys, you’ll get this and deal with it but you’ll have to admit, its not indicative of what they’re truly capable of. If it’s any consolation Dave, this is still light years better than anything Metallica could do these days (Lou Reed anybody?). Step up to the table Slayer!