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After Megadeth released the abject album, Super Collider, I thought that it was the end for them. I thought that they had absolutely nothing left to offer, and then in the space of a few months, long serving drummer, Shaun Drover, along with short-term guitarist, Chris Broderick, left the band, and were replaced by guitarist, Kiko Loureiro and drummer, Chris Adler. I suddenly felt optimistic because 'on paper', this new lineup looked far stronger than the previous one, and the best since the Menza and Friedman days.
Now, the first release has 11 tracks, however, I'll be basing my review on the 13 track album, plus two bonus tracks, which may appear long, but it still only hits about the 60 minute mark, and the number of songs doesn't dilute the overall quality. The first promotional song for this album was 'Fatal Illusion', and I can remember being relieved that it wasn't shit. I was astonished how good it was, with it's eerie, heavy build-up, bass intro, heavy riffs, which leads into a colossal finale. All of this was accompanied by lyrics about a man who's execution fails, and he returns to inact his revenge against all who had wronged him. How good is that! And that's why I knew that this was going to be a really good album. I exclaimed, 'This is my kind of Megadeth!'
The last very good release by Megadeth was United Abominations, but this one easily surpasses it, and it sounds like it could easily slot in around the time of Coutdown to Extinction and Youthanasia. It has all of the style to become a classic, much like Rust in Peace or the others mentioned. The title song opens in a manner which sounds like Rust in Peace, and 'Post American World' has a Countdown to Extinction vibe about it, but they are not just worn out facsimiles of old ideas; they sound fresh and reinvogorated. And the lead work has far more atmosphere and precision than say, Endgame, which has been praised for its solo work. The guitars have an electrifying sharpness, with perfectly timed licks and solos. Kiko, even on one album, has established himself as one of Megadeth's best guitarists.
The second promotional song, 'The Threat is Real', is a classic Megadeth style opener, with its melodic intro, combined with middle-eastern vocals, that has a calm subtlety before the electric storm. These melodic nuances are used throughout the album, adding more depth to the songs, and they are never overdone. These ambient moments even have a subtle heaviness about them, and there's always the anticipation that the songs are going to get heavier. The mid tempo, 'Bullet to the Brain', is a great example of that, along with some seriously good lyrics, where the word 'moth' can actually be taken seriously, leading into a heavy aggressive chug, and like with every song, it culminates in a creative/uplifting solo. And then Loureiro is given a free reign to show why he has become the best Megadeth guitarist since Friedman, with the instrumental, 'Conquer or Die'.
The production on this album is top quality. Both Loureiro and Mustaine's guitars have an excellent tone. David Ellefson's bass is perfectly balanced in the mix, and even Mustaine's vocals, which have never been a strong point, sound good enough to carry this off. He actually sounds enthusiast about what he's singing about, because, and rightly so, he's more confident about the material, and frankly, on the last album, he sounded shit, and the material was absolutely terrible. There's only one part that of this release that annoys me, and that's the first line from the song, 'The Emperor', which goes, 'Who do you think you are, some kind of super star?'. It sounds like a line from a Spice Girls song, which is slightly amusing, though the line is shit, however, the song does actually have some really fun riffage, and another excellent Loureiro solo.
Overall, what makes this album better than anything they've done recently, is firstly, Mustaine working to his strengths, and secondly, the influence of Chris Adler, who's contemporary style added a new dynamic, and especially Loureiro, with his virtuoso playing. The album begins strongly, and ends an with an awesome cover of Fears, 'Foreign Policy'. Like I've said, this is an album which would have been great as a successor to the very accomplished Youthanasia/Hidden Treasures, and in my opinion, the best album since then. Yes! Mustaine's vocals are not great, but most Megadeth fans will not care, just as long as we're not served up shit like Super Collider. This album has once again demonstrated that Megadeth are the elite of 'The Big Four', the same as they did with Peace Sells and Rust In Peace. And, if this release is anything to go by, then the next album should good, and Megadeth's modern legacy will be secure.