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Blues With a Metal Attitude - 83%

Hidius, July 10th, 2008

This album is jazzy in ways that Load could never have hoped to be. I think it’s because Dave Mustaine was reluctant even to do this. He was a man who wanted to make nothing less than metal, and he struggled constantly to get his band to agree. Even when they went for a bluesy, jazzy, almost pop sound, he kept it from becoming tranquilizer music by injecting some liveliness into it. When he sings he doesn’t sound technically as good as Hetfield’s nice deep voice did on Load, but it keeps you awake by retaining the snarl from the old thrash days, while Hetfiled just kind of let the listener drift off into la-la land. Conway Twitty could have sung those songs and the album would have been no better.

Comparisons to Metallica are inevitable because both bands went in the same direction at the same time. However, these songs are much more interesting to listen to than the drivel of Load. The Disintegrators is probably the only thing here that comes close to thrash, but FFF is a great song that also reminds of their older songs. Almost Honest, Use the Man, and I’ll Get Even sound like they could be pop songs but because Mustaine wasn’t interested in making pop music they have either a hard edge or a sarcastic tone, making them a fun listen in spite of lyrics that are a downer. Have Cool, Will Travel is similar but with the harmonica and some faster, livelier riffs it sounds even better. The lead track Trust is, with The Disintegrators and She-Wolf, among the most traditional songs on here. Even though I like the bluesy/jazzy sound of most of this album, these more metallic songs are the best to listen to. FFF ends the album on a good note, finishing up with a short, fast-paced song after an album that was deliciously varied.

My version has many bonus tracks. Normally that doesn’t thrill me very much but in this case there are two alternate versions of songs from the album that better than the official versions that made the cut, both because their lyrics are better. The lyrics to the bonus versions of Sin and Vortex are a vast improvement over the dumbed-down tripe that made it onto the album. The alternate of Vortex was the better of the two, because Sin was already an annoying song, even with the good lyrics. The Spanish version of Trust was atrocious, but Bullprick made up for that greatly, and ended the bonus tracks similar to the way FFF ended the main album.

It was a sort of On/Off album, but even so it succeeds where Load failed. This has life to it, it has a personality, it keeps the listener engaged. This is not an album of near-white-noise like Load. The lyrics are not about how life’s problems get you down, they’re about getting over those problems and actually achieving something, even if it is just revenge against whatever or whoever got you down in the first place. Listening to this, you will not get a sense that the solution to every problem is to lie back and take it like a slave, whining all the way. With a generally dark attitude, this album leaves the listener optimistic and feeling strong. When Dave sings, he sounds like he really wants to get back at someone, probably his bandmates for choosing a direction he disagreed with. Were it not for him, bastardly ego and all, this album could have been at least as bad as Load. If anything, Risk was Megadeth’s version of Load, because the band still made compelling music here. The metal attitude remained a driving force in their songwriting.