Thursday, November 3, 2011
Guns, Drugs, and Megadeth
“At thirteen I started down this path/fueled with anger, music was my wrath/Years of clawing at scars that never healed/Drowning my mind, the thoughts are too real” From the Gospel of Megadeth, Book Th1rt3en, sec. 13.
Since Dave Mustaine regrouped his baby in Megadeth in 2004, they have released a steady string of albums which has been seen as a return to form for the band since the majestic days of the 80s and early 90s. Their last output, “Endgame”, saw the band go back to their speedier side, but also strong songwriting which made it a great effort. “Th1rt3en” has a tough act to follow, but luckily it stands up to the groups name.
“Th1rt3een” sounds mostly like a cross between “Countdown to Extinction” and “Youthanasia.” There are more hard-pounding guitars surrounded by dark melodies that resonated in those releases. It is no coincidence either seeing as two tracks from those sessions made it on this album in “New World Order” and “Millennium of the Blind.” Both of these songs could be found on the “Youthanasia” remastered edition as extra tracks. Hearing these songs receiving their proper release is a great to hear, especially “New World Order” with its awesome lead guitar part before the chorus and the thrashing ending at the end, but I actually like the demoed version of this song better. A grittier, raw sound fit this song perfectly, but the clean version on here takes away from the destructive nature of this song. “Millenium of the Blind” has been built to a full song and the chorus songs like zombies marching towards slowly. I’m not sure if that is a good thing, so I’ll leave it at that.
The production on here is too clean, too polished. Everything sounds too neat. There is nothing that resembles the chaos of “This Day We Fight!” or “Burnt Ice” from the past two Megadeth albums. “Th1rt3en” could benefit more from a more dangerous, more chaotic sound.
With that being said, Mustaine delivers his signature snarl in the fashion everyone knows and love and hearing him rage about the injustices of the world, and the joys of driving fast never becomes old. It is wonderful to hear Dave Ellefson back in the fold because he just makes Megadeth be Megadeth again. His signature bass sound always held the backbone of the older releases. Tracks like “Public Enemy No. 1” and “Wrecker” relish in his grooves.
By far the best songs on here are “Never Dead” and “Public Enemy No. 1”. The brooding intro followed by the snarling riff are awesome. The verse passages and the chorus flow brilliantly and it has stuck in my head since listening. “Public Enemy No.1” resembles something from “Countdown” and has a great driving riff and Mustaine is great in the delivery of the vocals. Other standouts include “Guns, Drugs, and Money” which makes the listener imagine being in a Mexican action movie. The theme and rhythms of the song match perfectly. The other highlight is the closer “13” which is mostly a short biographical account of Mustaine’s life. The moody, mid-paced riff sticks through and is strong closer to this superstitious album. Another plug to “Whose Life (Is it Anyways?)” has a chorus that will stick in your head for days and the rocking, fast paced guitars meld with the fueled charged grievances towards people for not accepting who someone is or think they what’s best for someone.
In the end though, the songwriting is just not as memorable as “Endgame”. That album was going to be hard to beat, but still it is what it is. “Sudden Death” was taken from the Guitar Hero video game last year with blazing leads and solos, but it seems that the verse structures were just an afterthought and is a poor opener to the album. “We the People” is a politically charged rant with a flat chorus, but I suppose it is to resemble a political speech given by some candidate. However, we the people say this song is no good.
As a huge Megadeth fan, I am both pleased and somewhat disappointed with this album. I feel like the band has been stuck in neutral since “United Abominations.” While the band has hit a groove with solid metal tunes, I don’t feel that necessity to go back and listen to it like “Endgame” or the interesting and creative songwriting of “The System Has Failed.” I would like to see the band progress more in the future instead of relying on the past to illustrate its future. Overall, any Megadeth fan should like this and tracks like “Never Dead” and “Public Enemy No. 1” show the band still has the chops to be awesome. If the songs were stronger and the pacing was steadier then it would be a standout, but in the end, we have an above average, but not quite great Megadeth record.