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I recently invested in a copy of the new Megadeth album "Dystopia" and immediately realized that (in my opinion) it's the best album since "Countdown to Extinction." I also came to the conclusion that Dystopia is the natural follow up to the album "Endgame" which prompted me to make this review. Note; I'm calling Endgame the "follow up" because I have all but erased "Thirteen" and "Super Collider," which are the albums inbetween, from my memory.
Let's just get this out of the way immediately; this isn't the band completely returning to its thrash roots and is therefore not a "Peace Sells" or "Rust in Peace" II. This is what the hardcore thrash metal fans want so because it isn't an all-out back to their roots album lead protagonist Mustaine is vilified by a small contingent. Mustaine did state however as he always does that this album wouldn't be a Rust in Peace II, so he couldn't be accused of being disingenuous, and the addition of another album to the discography did make ‘99s “Risk,” which was a stylistic mistake, a more distant memory.
Endgame was a backward step after the very accomplished last couple of albums which included "The System Has Failed" and "United Abominations." Some fans and critics alike did exclaim that this album is a new "classic," a "new era for Megadeth" and an "outstanding return to their roots," but in my opinion it's an album of "deception."
The one thing that Endgame has achieved is a good track arrangement and what I mean by this is that the best tracks are positioned in such a manner that it makes the album appear much better than it actually is. The best tracks on the album are strategically added to the beginning, middle and in the final third giving the initial impression that it's very good from start to end.
The beginning of the album starts with an instrumental called "Dialectic Chaos" which is followed by a lightning fast thrash metal track called "This Day We Fight." This initial two track salvo certainly reminiscent of "Into the Lungs of Hell" and "Set the World Afire" from the "So Far, So Good, So What?" album, but without really emulating either of the aforementioned tracks. The instrumental sounds less like a classic opener and more like an interlude which belongs in the middle of an album. It doesn't have the ferocity which Into the Lungs of Hell gave us, but on the other hand This Day We Fight has everything you want to hear from Megadeth; it's fast, aggressive and shreds like no-bodies business.
Unfortunately this reasonably decent introduction to the album is followed up by too many middling tracks i.e. it's easy to assume that "44 Minutes," a song about an L.A. shot out between the Police and bank robbers, was created for radio air play. It's one of those dull mid-paced melodic tracks which has often dogged Megadeth since their "Youthanasia" days.
There's absolutely nothing interesting in the riffing patterns on this track, neither is there any ferocity which is often associated with classic Megadeth. The production of this song and on the entire album has created an excellent tone with a nice thick sound. The guitars do sound very good but regardless of this positive aspect the sound quality is no substitute for better riffing patterns and imaginative song structures. Now this wouldn't be such an issue if it was just a one-off but this trend continues throughout most of the album.
Another example would be when we encounter another track called "1320" which is about drag racing and is somewhat reminiscent of another vehicle themed song called "502," again from the album So Far, So Good, So What? The entire layout of 1320 is generic, the riffs are not aggressive, and the other major difference here between the aforementioned songs is that 1320 has neither the passion nor the ferocity of 502 or the entire album for that matter. But don't be too alarmed because Mustaine strategically slots the title track "Endgame" into the middle of the album. It has its decent thrashy moments, some great shredding and it has an interesting song structure. After this Mustaine attempts this ballad called "The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed with a Kiss" and the less said about this the better.
The entire last third of the album is much stronger after a lot of mediocrity between the opening two tracks and Endgame. The track "Headcrusher" has a great tempo which will make you want to air guitar, rattle your head, and it can quickly make you forget about 44 minutes and 1320. Then you can head bang your way through the last track "The Right to Go Insane" which has some excellent dual guitar action in its finale, so much so that you might be forgiven for thinking that this album is an absolute classic.
So the question is why this contrast between a couple of good tracks and a plethora of monotonous rubbish? I think that there are a few possibilities; the first reasons being that he is lacking the creativity he once had or perhaps he's just being lazy. That theory for me just doesn't hold much truth because if you can come up with This Day We Fight and Headcrusher then it can't be for that reason.
The second and more plausible reason is that he was making watered down rubbish for mainstream consumption. He has since stated that "I'm not making another radio song ever," and that in part it has to do with "the producer that you're working with." It's usually inevitable that if a band like Megadeth compromise their artistic integrity then they'll make a poor album and this trend continues on the following two albums.
Lets also briefly discuss the subject of guitar solos and the collaboration between Mustaine and Chris Broderick; it’s very good. It goes without saying that Broderick is an extremely talented guitar player and the duel solo aspect of this album is one of the positive aspects, although Broderick will always be compared to previous guitarists, most notably Marty Friedman and perhaps he [Friedman] contributed more than just his technical expertise; he added his own unique style which during his tenure always enhanced Megadeth albums. In my opinion Broderick doesn't succeed in that respect.
As for the drum track, this was Shaun Drover’s follow up effort after “United Abominations,” and like on that album he is proficient without ever being remarkable. The last album had more going on musically so his drumming was less of a focus but this album is so much more simplified that his drumming is more noticeable in the mix. He doesn't do anything wrong but he doesn't enhance an album in the way that Nick Menza or Gar Samuelson [RIP] did. And a point of fact; the recent addition of Chris Adler from "Lamb of God" has greatly improved the dynamic of the band, the quality of the new album and their live performances.
Just to summarize; as I first expressed in the first paragraph, Endgame is a kind of natural predecessor to the new album Dystopia. In one respect it's like a very early prototype towards Dystopia. It had the potential to be a very good album but there were just too many aspects holding it back i.e from the band dynamic to other influential parties within the record company. Therefore this album is certainly no classic, and it isn't even half as good as Rust in Peace. The opening two tracks Dialectic Chaos and This Day We Fight showed promise for the rest of the album, but this never comes to fruition. The middle track Endgame is interesting and the latter Headcrusher along with The Right to Go Insane are excellent but the rest is extremely lyrically and musically average.
On the other hand this is still an album which some people will want to listen to and will enjoy because it does have a few positive aspects, but the problem is that it has too many negative ones. It also really just depends on what you want from an Megadeth album: for instance if you want a lot of generic mid-paced groovy metal songs then you are more likely to enjoy it. On the other hand if you are like me and want to hear something more creative and technically stronger then you will be disappointed, and in that case you should avoid this one, perhaps opting to buy a couple of the individual tracks.
Megadeth is what I would like to call a “roller coaster” band. After putting out a series of albums that range from very good to classic, they follow up with a series of albums that range from decent to “meh” (or straight-up questionable in the case of Risk) before ultimately returning to form with another strong album or two. After the lows of the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Megadeth surged to a new high with the release of 2007’s United Abominations. While United Abominations saw the band hearken back to the more melodic sound of their commercial peak, 2009’s Endgame witnessed Megadeth’s return to their thrashier roots, bringing the roller coaster to a new high before ultimately dipping again with Th1rt3en and Super Collider.
The album gets off to a blistering start with the instrumental Dialectic Chaos and the even thrashier This Day We Fight! The opening with an instrumental hearkens back to the criminally underrated So Far, So Good…So What? whereas This Day We Fight! features speed and intensity not heard since Rust in Peace. In fact, the general consensus of this album being considered the 21st century version of Rust in Peace is not inaccurate, not only in terms of speed but in terms of technicality, but with songs such as 1,320’ and The Right to Go Insane featuring melody and structural changes in the endings. There are more mid-paced tracks as well, most notably the heavily chugging 44 Minutes and the anthemic How the Story Ends. 1,320’, Bodies, and Bite the Hand are all solid if not spectacular and The Hardest Part of Letting Go… is a sad yet surprisingly sinister pseud-ballad. However, the title track is delightfully dark and heavy and Headcrusher pumps the thrash back into action. Overall, the musicianship is outstanding and the chemistry between Dave and then-guitarist Chris Broderick is undeniable. Although Chris has since left the band, his contributions to Endgame alone are enough to solidify his status as one of Megadeth’s best guitarists.
The lyrics range cover such topics as the Lord of the Rings (This Day We Fight!), police shootouts (44 Minutes), torture (Headcrusher), and Dave’s suspicion of a New World Order (the title track-thanks a lot Alex Jones!). Dave has never been a lyrical genius and songs such as Bodies and 1,320’ are certainly proof of that. However, the intensity of the music and the energy in Dave’s snarls do enough to soften the blow. If there is one thing that can be said of Dave’s vocals as it relates to the lyrics, his conviction truly makes you think he means what he says, even when it’s verses such as this:
This thing called life goes by so quickly
One day you’re here and then you’re gone
This is the moment I’ve lived my whole life for
And I’ll never give up, I’ve waited too long
Not necessarily inspiring, but enough that it gets the point of the song across. And let’s be honest, Megadeth’s strength has always been in the music.
While it may not rival the likes of Peace Sells… or Rust in Peace, Endgame is perhaps Megadeth’s crowning achievement of the 21st century (although their latest outing, Dystopia, could give it a run for its money). Though the middle is a tad hit-or-miss and the lyrics aren’t the most inspired of Dave Mustaine’s career, the overall musicianship is superb and the energy is undeniable. If you want proof that Megadeth did not hit its peak in the early 90’s, you would be wise to check out Endgame.
(Note: Any and all references to the quality of Megadeth's entire discography exclude their [as of writing this] newest album, Dystopia. I simply haven't listened to the thing in full yet.)
Seeing as the inevitable flood of reviews is upon us for the band's 16th full-length, Dystopia, I thought I would take a look at what is widely regarded as a modern thrash classic, as well the band's best album in a long time and just one of their best in general. Endgame effectively acted as a sort of rally cry to thrashers around the world, and was probably one of the first notable efforts of a high quality by an '80s thrash band. Oh sure, the Germans had already returned, but their albums (barring The Antichrist) came across as efforts to sound like they did in the '80s, rather than update their '80s sounds - and lacked the major label production and promotion muscle to boot. By contrast, from the first crystal clear opening licks of 'Dialectic Chaos', this album just screams things like 'WE'RE BACK!!!' and 'THRASH!'. In short, this was presented as a triumphant return to form for an old '80s legend, and all the younger thrashers around the world took that to mean 'if those old codgers can thrash, why can't we?!' Due to how it was presented, it inspired newfound confidence in the fans of a less-than-visible genre.
Emphasis on 'its presentation' and derivatives thereof.
No, this isn't really a modern thrash classic, and nor is this really that good by the standards of what Megadeth are capable of. However, given the massive inconsistency and overall mediocrity of Megadeth's modern output, those who say that this is musically the best thing the band has done since 1990/1992/1994 (depending on your stance) are relatively speaking, correct. What is actually found on this album is merely a better produced, higher quality variety of modern Megadeth's watered down and tame heavy metal - or as I like to call it, 'Megamild'. First espoused on The World Needs A Hero, that is all this album really amounts to - Version 4 of the post '90s sound of the band.
What that means is that this is for the most part, a really bland, technically and sonically boring, and just forgettable album. The riffs on here aren't the least bit aggressive, are very melodic, and are just boring and have barely any drive to them at all. They aren't terribly offensive, they don't grate on the ears due to their inoffensiveness, and there are a lot of them, but they just feel like filler riffs that are just there to be backing noise. They aren't quite at the level of sheer banality that a more vocally oriented band would stoop to, but it does just feel like noise for the sake of noise at times. Sometimes they just remove the riffs completely, like in the verses of '44 Minutes', and then slowly add in the stop-start modern crap and lead guitar harmonies. This is a surprisingly riff-lite album for one hailed as a modern thrash classic.
The bass follows the riffs and provides a low end. It never really has any time to its own, no cool exposed intro sections like 'Peace Sells' or sneaky little fills akin to 'Take No Prisoners', or even extended bits like the more recent 'Disconnect'. Dave Jr. is capable of a bit more flair, and though he does his most basic job well enough, for something praised so fucking highly (at one point, this album had a higher average score than Killing Is My Business and So Far, So Good... So What! - two vastly superior efforts from when Mustaine gave a shit), I would expect a little more than the functional minimum. The same can be said of the drums too. The drummer never once skips a beat, and is on the pedals from time to time, and does throw in a few fills here and there. Even so, they are still nowhere near the technical level of Nick Menza's performances or the sheer genius of Gar Samuelson.
And the vocals... do leave a fair bit to be desired. Mustaine's vocals suck, we all know they have always objectively sucked, but here the main element of why they worked has been stripped away. For one, it just sounds like he is fucking bored and tired on these songs. He just kind of grumbles and lazily snarls through the album, not once getting his shit together and making an attempt at 'singing' with some balls and passion. I know he was like 48 when this was recorded, and his voice is basically shot, but even Tom Araya sounded better than him on World Painted Blood, and Tom is just as old and has taken more vocal wear and tear than Dave. Another problem is that Dave is no longer surrounded by high quality, aggressive music to cover up his voice sonically, allow him/force him to actually sing with some aggression, and distract you from his pipes in general. As stated, this is a very vocally orientated and melodic album, the former of which would be fine if this wasn't made out to be a thrash release, and both of which would be fine if Dave could actually sing.
In terms of song arrangements, this is an astonishingly repetitive and boring album. It is very chorus driven, and thus revolves around verse-chorus structures on the whole with no deviation from said formula. The instrumentation, as already stated, is very uninspired. Generally, there is just one type of drumbeat (a boring straight beat, a thrash beat, etc.) used throughout, with some fill and pedal action. There are a few riffs per song, but manage to make the songs both unmemorable due to their quality and stagnant as there are too few of them. The songs are all played at mid-tempo, and the whole mid-section of the album can literally be skipped over until the half-ballad 'The Hardest Part of Letting Go...' is reached, given that the vast majority of stuff here feels like filler. They do give some time to the lead guitars, which is a welcome break from the endless terrible vocals, but they also give too much time to the vocals, negating the overall enjoyment of the song!
One thing I do like is the production. It is loud, fat, clear, crisp and chunky. It does a lot to make the guitars sound great, but no good guitar tone can cover up shitty riffs. The drums are very weighty and pummeling in sound, far more so than previous albums by the band. The bass is discernible, not quite to the same degree as The World Needs A Hero but still audible. All that means though is that you can hear it not do anything other than follow the guitars, and the loudness overall just rams home how repetitious the album actually is - there is no escaping it. And the vocals are far too loud - because they are audible. Seriously, Mustaine's voice here is fucking terrible, and I can't stand to listen to it on anything he has touched since 2001.
Now, if I may divert your attention to one of this album's worst characteristics, and one which causes me to write off the album completely - this album relies heavily on its presentation to make it work. And before I continue, note that any discussion of the album's musical quality on the whole excludes 'This Day We Fight!' and 'Head Crusher'. You ever wonder why the only songs you ever remember here are those two? It is very simple, and something BastardHead has already noted - those are literally the only good things on this album. The 35 minutes of the album's duration not taken up by the opening two songs (basically one song) and 'Head Crusher' are all the exact same boring, plodding garbage that Dave has been making since The World Needs A Hero, which in turn borrows heavily from Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction. In addition to taking too much from the latter and not enough from the former, Dave also manages to sap any and all creativity that may have come with his early to mid '90s albums, and puts out album after album of boring, repetitive, tame, lame and just bland crunchy radio rock.
So how on Earth could that make me write off an album, you may ask? Easy, because it proves something that I fucking hate from any artist: Mustaine is fucking lazy, deceitful and underhanded about his music. Lazy because he is clearly capable of writing what is literally the best thing this band has done since... well... 'Return to Hangar', but skip over that and this band has not written a single song that is as ball-bustingly awesome as 'This Day We Fight!' since we last heard the closing notes to fuckin' 'Rust in Peace... Polaris'. He could have written at least 3 or 4 more songs like that, and then mixed it in with some slower material - and I mean slow in the 'Bad Omen' sort of way, not the 'Youthanasia' kind of way. And for fuck's sake, if you must make a ballad, why not do one like 'A Tout Le Monde' or 'In My Darkest Hour'? Both of those were emotional without being overwrought, touching, and still had good instruments to boot. That 'Sealed With A Kiss' thing is so unbelievably bad, coming across as corny, wussy, and with a shitty string section to boot that makes it sound all 'Russian folk song' when it speeds up. And even barring all that, there is the issue of deception. Way to go Dave, put a carbon copy of 'Into the Lungs of Hell/Set the World Afire' at the start, trick any unsuspecting listener that perhaps, just for once, you GAVE A SHIT, and let the intensity of that metal orgasm spill over the next few fillers, barely being propped up by '1,320', and have your terrible experiment wiped off the face of the Earth by 'Head Crusher' just moments after. Let the triumphant metal anthem of 'This Day We Fight!' and the abrupt intro of 'Head Crusher' do those things. The songs sound like they were specifically designed to account for the album's flaws, flaws caused by Dave's sheer laziness.
And that, in case you are wondering, is the justification for such a low score. This is not only as mediocre as they come, but it is a complete fucking lie, dressing up its flaws in such a way that it PROVES how goddamn uninspired and tired its creator really is. Desperately scrabbling away, trying to hide its massive deficiencies... this is artistic death. When an artist becomes so fucking ashamed of the direction he has taken, to the point where he deceives its consumers by rehashing a time when he was relevant, that is the sign of an absolute failure. This isn't trash in terms of its musical content, but it is presented in such a shamelessly shameful way that I can't help but feel absolutely pissed at both it and its creator. The unabashed, brazen laziness, the sheer banality of it all, this is garbage.
Sure, musically it is serviceable, and would be *slightly* enjoyable if not for how blatantly transparent and obvious Dave's attempts at hiding his own musical failings are, but in principle, this is one of the worst things the band has ever released. The preceding 3 albums are all inferior, but at least they are honest right from the off that they are boring, watered down 'thrash rock' or just a plinth for Mustaine's incoherent political ramblings. Obviously Risk is worse, and though Cryptic Writings suffers from the same dichotomy of crappy rock and great thrash on the same album, there tracks like 'She-Wolf' weren't strategically placed to make the album seem better than it was. Those could just be put down to using up any last good ideas Dave may had had before his tragic musical downfall in 1999. The fact that he can write two great songs after several hours of mediocrity means that he has good ideas, but won't use them because he wants to take the easy way out.
Strip away the two good tracks and the introduction, and all that is left is the same fucking thing. The exact same fucking thing. Weak riffs, uninspired rhythm, solos that are there just to further prove that Mustaine can be good at what he does but chooses not to, awkward vocal melodies, terrible vocals, crappy songwriting, and dreadful lyrics than infest the songs to make this album Dave's soapbox. That is all this album is, just another one of Dave's boring radio rock albums, but with added crunch and deception. It is not a thrash classic, and should never be mentioned in the same breath as any other Megadeth album (apart from Risk, which actually is less artistically bankrupt than this).
A burnt out, uninspired album by a burnt out, uninspired man. One which, ironically enough, brings to mind criticisms often leveled at Master of Puppets, in that it tries to mask its supposed inherent musical limitations with acoustic bits and ambient parts to make it seem 'progressive', and that not much of it is thrash. The thing is, that is the same fucking thing that Dave has done here, only now he is using his inspiration to cover up his laziness. And most of this album is barely thrash in itself, just crunchy radio rock with two amazing modern thrash classics stuck in between it all. This isn't a 0% album, because it has two good songs, good solos and isn't that annoying musically, but it really is the pits of artistic integrity. An absolute artistic failure, the textbook definition of deceit and mediocrity. Dave has become the deceptive puppet master that his former band described back in 1986. Good one Dave, a nice bit of irony for us to reflect on as I end this review.
'Master of Puppets, I'm pulling your strings... twisting your mind and smashing your dreams!'
One of the more visible falls from grace in metal history undoubtedly has to be that of Megadeth. Everybody knows their history, everybody knows the relation to Metallica, everybody knows what I think of them (first five albums are great, Youthanasia is a decent hard rock album, everything else sucks), and everybody for the most part seems to agree. It's just generally accepted that Megadeth has been shit since at least 1992. It's really not even worth talking about, because it's all been talked to death. That's why I'm sitting here, rocking out to Rust in Peace, with a blank document on my computer screen. God dammit, I love their 1990 album more than almost everything, but it's so hard to review at this point. Everybody has the same opinion! Part of me wished they had at least one good album after Countdown to Extinction because then it'd at least make their career somewhat interesting instead of predictable and sad.
But BH! There is a good album in the last two thirds of their career! You're completely forgetting about Endgame!
No I'm not. Endgame sucks, and you're all insane for not realizing it. Really, this album is just an exercise is the exact kind of subliminal manipulation that Dave spends so much time ironically shouting at the top of his lungs about. The only thing Endgame does well is order the tracklisting in such a way that you get tricked into thinking it's great.
What do I mean? Well, ask anybody what their favorite song on this album is. 90% of the time it's "This Day We Fight", the other 10% says "Headcrusher". There's a reason for this, because they're positioned in such a way, surrounded by exactly the right amounts of boring, half hearted bullshit, that they managed to stand above the crowd. They're very good songs, the former of which is legitimately probably one of my top ten favorite Megadeth songs. It's just does everything right, it's the exact kind of violent aggression intertwined with masterful guitar playing that made Rust in Peace such a timeless classic. It never lets up, it starts with its foot on the gas and just plows through the listeners like zombies in a shopping mall. The chorus deserves special mention for being so bloody ear catching. The whole song is a rallying cry, a huge, pissed off anthem to remind everybody why Megadeth is a band worth listening to. "Headcrusher" is no different, with a pummeling main riff and ferocious vocal patterns that just emanate bile and fire. It's hard not to pump your fist and bang your head during "DEEEEATH BY THE HEEEEEADCRUSHA". Both of these songs are exactly what made the band so fucking good in the 80s (yes Rust in Peace is an 80s album, the 80s ended in 1992).
But here's the secret, they're the -only- two good songs on the entire album. It's so easy to miss because the beginning is so good that you find yourself just riding a high until "Headcrusher" comes in late, but it's true. You see, Dave, for all the cross eyed tongue waggling lunacy, really can manage to be smart sometimes. This is an example of his brilliance, because the beginning of the album emulates a previous classic in So Far, So Good, So What?, with "Dialectic Chaos" and "This Day We Fight" perfectly mirroring "Into the Lungs of Hell" and "Set the World Afire". The intro tracks are both hugely melodic and triumphant sounding shredfests, with only basic riffs being made up for with instantly memorable Van Halen leads and mindbending fretboard theatrics. The following songs are both big crowd rousing numbers with massive choruses and infectious-yet-punishing riffage. At this point, after you just sat through albums with such timeless classics as "A Tout le Monde", "Of Mice and Men" and "Moto Psycho", you'll hear that one-two punch of an introduction and promptly pass out due to all of the blood rushing to your reproductive organs. It's easy to forget that "44 Minutes" is the exact same awkward radio rock bullshit that plagued their 90s era, and it's forgivable to not notice that "Bite the Hand that Feeds" is almost a total rewrite of "Skin O' My Teeth" and "Bodies" is just "Symphony of Destruction" again. It's okay to immediately erase the embarassingly terrible half-ballad of "The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed with a Kiss" from your memory because just as soon as you start wondering what the fuck it was, "Headcrusher" starts and makes you headbang yourself into a concussive state of amnesia.
That's really what makes up the entire album. Everything is either a blatant copying of a previous song that people already liked or it's just a new terrible idea that Dave has been unsuccessfully trying so fucking hard to make us like for a decade at the time of release. I mean let's be real here, who really enjoys the spoken word crap and tinfoil chewing nonsense that Dave spends half of the title track shouting about? Who really likes the awkward vocal cadences that have plagued the band ever since the early 90s? Who thought "Captive Honour" was so good that we needed to hear it again with a new title? I realize that a lot of the copied songs are songs from Countdown to Extinction, an album I openly enjoy the everloving shit out of despite its very obvious flaws. The difference really comes down to how fresh the songs feel, and Endgame just can't even compare outside of the two obvious songs. Countdown may have been an obvious attempt at cashing in on Metallica's new direction (and let's not pretend that "This Day We Fight" and "Headcrusher" aren't direct responses to the heavy throwback songs on Death Magnetic, but I really just can't bear to preach that obvious storyline any longer), but it was fun and exciting. "The Right to Go Insane" just feels like a reheated leftover, and "1,320" sounds like a paint-by-numbers how-to guide in regards to being just mediocre enough to carry the momentum that a previously great track can generate. Dave's snarl is just as lazy and tired as it has been for nearly two decades, excepting the two I keep namedropping. In fact, I'm really beginning to suspect that a different, better band actually wrote those two, because holy shit it just makes no sense that he can crap out those two masterpieces in the middle of an album full of rehashed speed rock in the middle of a streak of albums that range from hilariously bad to painfully mediocre.
There are just only so many times I can say the same thing, so I'll wrap it up here. "This Day We Fight" and "Headcrusher" are two phenomenal songs that absolutely deserve all the praise they've been getting, but the rest of the album contains nothing but bad reimaginings of better songs from their divisive transitional era. I'm aware that everybody's taste is different, and maybe the majority of people really do just think "1,320" is really just that much better than "High Speed Dirt", but personally I'll never buy it. Dave got a few things right by recognizing the best tracks and releasing one as a single and the other as the opening song, and also only focusing on politics for about half the songs instead of all of them. But that's it, everything else is just as bad as they've always been and I feel like I'm the one sober guy staring at the Emperor's naked asshole.
Originally written for Lair of the Bastard
Ah, Megadeth…one of metal’s favorite whipping boys. With the specter of Metallica looming over ever since their formation, it seemed as though poor Mr. Mustaine and company just couldn’t do anything right as the years passed and his former band shot into the stratosphere like so many Jennifer Hudsons to come, and just as unnecessarily. And before I continue, I must admit to having quite the pro-Megadeth slant on my end, though with a discerning, open mind; after all, it was they who got me into heavy metal in the first place, perverting my ears with their twisted, neo-classical, “my fingers are faster than your fingers” brand of music that, essentially, didn’t exist until they came around. However, I still take to their material with a discerning, open mind, knowing that their track history is less than perfect (can’t say the likes of “Countdown to Extinction” and “Risk” were complete, solid works that should have the ‘Deth brand upon them), and I’ve been able to take in their born again, post-“The World Needs a Hero” ascension with as open ears as possible, loving every second of it.
Which brings us to their latest, “Endgame”…
The way things stand, it seems Megadeth have been on one hell of an upwards journey since Dave got hurt, fixed his arm, went to rehab and came back even more pissed off than before. “The System Has Failed” was a multi-track boots to the nuts, and “United Abominations” was a subtle, grassroots movement meant to dethrone the evil’s prince’s iron fists…but we’d hadn’t heard ANYTHING yet. “Endgame”, in my absolutely humble opinion, has to be one of Megadeth’s strongest works to date, where that fine combination of United’s thickness and melody with System’s unabashed fury shoves you face-first into the realm of conspiracy theories and anti-government rhetoric that’s as anarchistic as they come. This works more naturally and rage-inducing with these guys versus the “they took mah rahts!” ramblings of, say, Jon Schaffer during his Sons of Liberty period, which makes this listen all the more awe-striking. This is some truly ambitious, venomous material, as at this point in his life Dave seems to have nothing to prove, doesn’t care who he angers anymore, and lets his guitar and patented snarl do all the talking…and talk they do. As before, the riffs are spot-on and monstrous, the leads and solos are blindingly tasteful, the drum work tight and chaotic, the vocals as spiteful and raging as before, and the overall musical approach throw more ideas at you in single songs than others of their ilk can in complete albums. It’s refreshing to know that, even after all these years, Megadeth still have plenty to say and aren’t relegated to grasping at straws subject-matter-wise (though I think a few may still be turned off by the consistent politico-leaning), and even those that divert from the usual lyrical protocols fit the scheme of things just as well. It’s all wondrous on the speedier tracks of “This Day We Fight!”, “1,320” and “Head Crusher”, especially in the way they augment the slower and more melodious likes of “44 Minutes”, “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed with a Kiss”, and “Bodies” (NOT that Drowning Pool song, thank God…), going hand in hand to shatter those oh-so-evil preconceived notions of what metal is supposed to be post-millennium. As I may have said before, leave it to the veterans to kick these dumb kids right onto their asses.
In the end, Megadeth once again kick ass and takes names the way only they can do. In a time when we need good, real, face-melting metal, “Endgame” truly is the cold, refreshing oasis in a creative wasteland. Consider this a call to arms.
Every time a new Megadeth release is in the works, everyone jumps to offer their opinion on how it should be the next Rust in Peace. Well, this time around Dave didn't listen, just like the last few times, but it turns out that he made a good call. A damn good call. Endgame stands out as the band's best release since Youthanasia, and fits right in with their mid-90's Countdown to Extinction/Youthanasia sound. It’s diverse, it has some really angry lyrics in places, and the production is very well done, making it an enjoyable listen. I’ve got nothing against the other guys who’ve tried to replace Marty Friedman, but adding Chris Broderick on lead guitar has really stepped up the soloing this time around as well. If we’re lucky, he’ll stick around for a while.
I knew this was going to be good when Dialectic Chaos started up and a wicked-yet-simple ascending lead bit started playing a few seconds into the song. Megadeth hasn't done a really solid instrumental for a few years, and this one is great. The lead tradeoffs between Mustaine and Broderick put the listener on notice that this time, they mean it. Most of the tracks are very solid, and stand up well as part of Megadeth's diverse catalog. 44 Minutes is a nice, mid-paced, melodic metal song, something that Megadeth does exceptionally well. In fact, Megadeth doesn't get nearly enough credit for writing this kind of music as far as I'm concerned, thanks in no small part to the "all we want is Rust in Peace 2" sheeple, many of which have infiltrated various media outlets tasked with offering critical reviews of Mustain and Company's latest releases. Bodies, the track I was initially the most interested to hear as it was a leftover from United Abominations, chugs along nicely, with a verse riff that really complements Dave's singing. The layered vocals in the chorus are also done rather well, understated and not over-obvious, if that makes sense. Endgame is a typical Mustaine-penned political statement. The line about waking up in a FEMA box is completely hilarious, and once the track gets going it really moves. OK, the lyrical content may seem to be a bit too tinfoil-hat for some people, but what the hell, if you want something better, write it your damn self. Or better yet, go out and do a little research to find out just what it is Mustaine is singing about, and you might learn something. Megadeth has the power to foster education! Take that, PMRC! The album closes on a high note with The Right to Go Insane, which to me sounds conceptually like a "more metal" version of Breadline. Again, we've got some great layered vocal lines in the chorus, catchy lyrics, and some very solid riffing. My favorite track on the CD by far is How the Story Ends. It has a grinding intro riff, a verse riff reminiscent of Holy Wars, and a chorus that ranks up there with anything Mustaine has written in the past. It's the kind of chorus that will stick in your head for days: relatively simple, yet at the same time very well composed. Beyond the music, the real attractive part of this song is the hilarious way that you can interpret the lyrical content. Ok, bear with me for a minute, but every time I hear this song all I can think of is Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War. Yeah, that’s not what Mustaine meant for the song to be about, but I find the ability to interpret it in my own way makes it that much more amusing. Especially when you consider that from that standpoint, "The Story" could be Gone With the Wind. I know, I've lost it, but come on, that's just hilarious. Think about it for a few minutes and you'll see where I'm coming from.
There are a few low points to the album, the most obvious being Headcrusher. Interestingly, this track, the album's first single, has been relatively well-received by the fans, and even garnered Megadeth a Grammy nomination. It has blazing fast riffs and blistering solos reminiscent of the Rust in Peace glory days...but the song just doesn't really do anything special for me. It seems like it was written to satiate the aforementioned sheeple without directing the overall musical course of the album. When the listener realizes just how well done the overall album is, that turns out to be a good thing. The rest of the tracks on Endgame are pretty standard Megadeth fare; they'll appeal to some fans more than others, but for the most part they're not too shabby. They're certainly more aggressive than Megadeth's past few albums, and they do manage to show off Mustaine and Broderick’s chops pretty well. The only problem is that for me, a lifelong Megadeth fan who constantly spends money on all the imports, singles, bootlegs, and whatnot that I can find, they just don’t seem to hold my interest very long.
Overall, the album is definitely a solid release. If it does anything, it proves that yeah, Dave can still play stupid-fast thrash, but it also proves that Megadeth's strength is the mid-paced, groovy metal song. They just might do that better than anyone else out there at the moment. And if you haven't been paying attention, or have been hanging around too many of those irritating sheeple, they've been doing it just as well ever since Countdown to Extinction. This album really seems to bring that aspect of Megadeth's music to the forefront more than any other recent release. That’s also why this isn’t really a true “return to form” for the band, but in this case, it turns out that they really didn’t need to do that in order to put out a solid album. I mean, seriously. Come on. Rust in Peace 2? Why? How the hell can you top that album anyway? Give me solid, original Megadeth music over a rehash of something that's already been done any day of the week. That's precisely what Endgame delivers, and precisely why it deserves to be mentioned as perhaps the band's strongest release in recent years.
For almost two decades, people have been longing for Dave Mustaine to find and fire his silver bullet and end the curse of the long string of weak to 'just okay' albums that have stained the 'Deth legacy. To be fair, Countdown to Extinction had its moments (if you ignore the abominable "Sweating Bullets") and Youthanasia was a great album (though different for Megadeth). But after that...a void. Over the course of the past few records, Mustaine and his ever-shifting lineup have been writing more in the vein of their masterpiece Rust in Peace, and this 12th album Endgame is the closest to pulling it off.
The key is, of course, the guitar work. And Endgame is brimming with lightning riffs and mountains of shred. The musicianship on this album is evidence that Dave's fingers have not rusted in peace, and that he continues to make good choices in who performs alongside him. Shawn Drover and James Lomenzo return from the last run, with newcomer Chris Broderick (Jag Panzer, etc) taking over Glen Drover's guitar spot. Mustaine's vocals feel 'meh' as they often do, though they retain their mocking sneer. Lyrically, the album covers the usual mix of politics, murder, mayhem and racing. There are a few points (as is the tradition for Mustaine) where they are timed in places where they feel corny, but after reading through all the lyrics: they are hardly poetic, but not terrible.
But yeah, back to the guitars. On most songs here, they are simply explosive. "This Day We Fight!" feels like an outtake from Rust In Peace remixed for 2009, building a dynamic thrash groove that is faster than fuck. The 'racer' "1-320" is also anchored by some seriously badass riffing, another of the tunes I've been revisiting. "Bite the Hand" is another killer fast paced track. For slower fare, in the vein of "Symphony of Destruction" we have the rocking "Bodies" and the great "How the Story Ends". I also dug the hooks in "The Right to Go Insane".
However you feel about Mustaine and 'Deth's turbulent history, Endgame is good, and the myriad of quality riffs here only grow on you with repeated listens. The mix is superb, I don't think the guitars have ever sounded better on a Megadeth album. This is a thrash/speed metal album through and through, the days of experimental suck of the mid to late 90s are long since over and Mustaine has reconciled himself to do what he does best. Like the latest Metallica, this is finally something to be excited about. The riffs and vocal hooks could be a little catchier, but this is worth the money for any Megadeth fan.
There is no real way for me to say this without looking like a crazed fanboy so I think I'll just go out and say it: this is the best Megadeth album since 1992's "Countdown to Extinction" and probably the most consistent since 1997's "Cryptic Writings." The album manages to successfully combine a more consistent level of songwriting with a touch of technical intensity that has been absent from the band for decades. It also showcases the talents of Jag Panzer/Nevermore guitarist Chris Broderick, who joined the band after the sudden departure of Glen Drover.
To start things off, this album manages to trim a great deal of the fat that appeared on the band's previous releases this millennium. There are very few spoken segments taking up space in songs, any interludes and remakes of the past are completely absent, and would-be fillers like "Bite the Hand" are strengthened by some energetic riffs and solos. Of course the songs still cover a lot of ground and include a number of thrashers, mid-tempo anthems, and an epic ballad in "The Hardest Part of Letting Go/Sealed With a Kiss."
The band has also chosen to focus less on political themes in comparison to "United Abominations," preferring to cram it all in the conspiracy ramblings of the seven minute title track. Other topics included on the album include ancient warfare ("This Day We Fight!," "How the Story Ends"), economic struggles ("Bite the Hand," "The Right to Go Insane"), racing ("1,320"), and another one of Dave Mustaine's messed up love stories ("The Hardest Part of Letting Go/Sealed With a Kiss").
Like "Rust In Peace" before it, this album also seems to be all about the guitar playing. With the initiation of Broderick, the riffs have become even more aggressive and there are an endless number of solos dominate every song. While it is somewhat comparable to the solo overload that appeared on "Death Magnetic," it rarely detracts from the songs themselves and does a good job of showing off the guitarists' talent. The bass also manages to stick on songs such as "The Right to Go Insane" and the vocals are nicely executed in Mustaine's songs.
Unfortunately, the strongest Megadeth album in the millennium is also one of the band's most derivative with nearly every song on here echoing a more legendary song of yesteryear. The one-two punch of "Dialectic Chaos" and "This Day We Fight!" is a dead ringer for the old "Into the Lungs of Hell"/"Set the World Afire" combo, the chorus of "44 Minutes" brings to mind the "United Abominations" title track, "1320" sounds like a cross between "Rattlehead" and "High Speed Dirt," "Headcrusher" has a few shades of "Kick the Chair," and I like to decribe "The Right to Go Insane" as being the little brother of "Architecture of Aggression." Even, THPOLG/SWAK, the album's most unique track, ends up sounding like a more epic version of "Promises..."
In spite of the backtracking, I find this to be a very strong album that fits in well with Megadeth's classic era and could very well be one of the strongest albums of 2009.
1) Energetic songs with very little bullshit
2) Excellent guitar riffs and solos
3) A good variety
1) The lyrics are still a little corny on occasion
2) Some heavily derivative songs
3) A few songs could use a little more structure
My Current Favorites:
"44 Minutes," "1320," "Bodies," "The Hardest Part of Letting Go/Sealed With a Kiss," and "The Right to Go Insane"
I made 2 obvious mistakes at the end of my review for ‘United abominations’. The first was the naivety of assuming a bit of new stability in the Megadeth line-up, which was dashed pretty quickly by Glen Drover’s departure. The 2nd was the rating I gave it. While I stand by the notion that, a flat vocal performance and the butchering of ‘A tout le monde’ aside, there wasn’t a genuinely bad song on there, the fact that I have barely revisited the CD since then tells its own story. It was a safe, moderated and ultimately flavourless release that offered very little beyond proficient musicianship.
After 2 years of that CD sinking in, expectations were low for ‘Endgame’, which made it all the more surprising just how strong a release it actually is. First and foremost, it’s great to hear a Megadeth CD with some honest to God speed/thrash metal on it for the first time in however many years. Though not a full-on thrash CD, the presence of a handful of undiluted thrash metal tunes is undeniable and a very welcome surprise. Dave Mustaine also seems to have gotten a bit of fire back in his belly, and the old snarl sounds better than it has in some time. To go along with this, ‘Endgame’ is also the first Megadeth CD in a long while to possess a near endless supply of blazing, OTT guitar solos.
Excellent a guitarist though he was, Drover’s decision to step down has actually been a bit of a blessing. For whatever reason, it seems to have taken the arrival of Chris Broderick for Mustaine to realise that half the charm of Megadeth in the old days was the promise of lashings of blistering lead guitar. Since Marty Friedman’s departure, even when returning to a more metallic style, both the amount of solos and the ferocity of those that were actually played had been reduced and tamed somewhat – with 3 excellent players in Al Pitrelli, Chris Poland and finally Drover coming and going in the interim there can’t have been any real reason for this beyond the boss not really feeling up for it.
The opening pair of songs almost had my jaw hanging on the first listen – “Dialectic chaos” is the first instrumental to open a Megadeth CD in 21 years and a clearer statement of intent could not have been provided by the giant solo battle Mustaine and Broderick engage in over the galloping riffs. With no pause for breath, “This day we fight!” takes over and proves to be the purest, heaviest speed/thrash song Mustaine has written in many years. By the time it has finished no less than 14 guitar solos have been played in less than 6 breathtaking minutes, and it would take a spectacular fall from grace for ‘Endgame’ not to end up a roaring success after such a furious opening.
The other good news is that, the songs that aren’t thrash are mostly all very good as well. My heart sunk a little on first listen to “44 minutes” (soundbites on a Megadeth CD are enough to send shivers down my spine) as the thrashing intensity of the first 2 songs was cast away already, but a few listens reveal an excellent melodic metal song with a solo from Broderick that appears with neck-snapping suddenness. “1320’” immediately gets things up to top speed again with a riff the likes of which hasn’t been heard from the band since ‘So far, so good... so what!'. In fact, I’m convinced the title and lyrics (a nicely unserious affair about car racing) come from the similarity the opening riff bears to that of “502”.
Another of the non-thrash songs that had me worried on the first go but went on to more than prove itself is the Broderick co-authored half-acoustic half-ballad “The hardest part of letting go... sealed with a kiss”. The soft acoustic opening passages are soon intensified by an unanticipated symphonic keyboard arrangement that leads to a heavier mid-section, revealing the lyrics to be a good deal less sappy than they initially seemed. Drummer Shawn Drover also puts in a tasty display on the “Sealed with a kiss” section of the song, his rolling fills adding extra texture and proving what a fine acquisition he has turned out to be.
Just like “44 minutes”, it is followed by an old-school thrashing beast in the form of the short, sharp “Head crusher”, more proof of Drover’s all-round usefulness as a great deal of the song comes from his pen. Placing a song like his so far into the tracklist is indicative of the pacing of the CD, which is very well handled; the fast and heavy songs are usually saved for the moments when a little injection of pace is needed.
The CD maybe peters out a little on the last couple of songs, but a couple of very small missteps aside it is a model of consistency, and unlike its predecessor the lesser songs are at the very least quite diverting. “Bite the hand that feeds” jumps between a successful fast riff and slower one I’m still not 100% sure about, but on the whole sits quite well despite the rather trite political lyrics. Mustaine thankfully keeps his whacked-out opinions on the way of the world a little more to himself this time around, but almost threatens to derail the title track with his gibbering. The song begins with Talky Dave making his only unwelcome appearance on the CD, ruining a rather doomy opening section, but is saved from being another soapbox rant when he gets back to actually singing and all things considered is another good addition.
The great songs are enough to lift the ones that flounder a little, but even these lesser songs are an improvement in nearly every way over those on the predecessor. At the conclusion to my previous ‘deth review, I called ‘United abominations’ their best CD since ‘Youthanasia’, but this was a bit of a back-handed compliment. The same is definitely true of ‘Endgame’ (which may even be the best since ‘Countdown to extinction’), but this time it is a praise actually earned for itself rather than achieved by default. Surprise of the year without doubt, Mustaine and his cohorts have shown us all there is life in the old dog yet. It’s not a classic, but at this stage in their career it is a stunning turnaround.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
Megadeth are a conundrum for me. On one hand, they are a perfectly acceptable outfit, not too pretentious sounding and definitely not trying to be anything they aren’t, but on the other hand, I just don’t enjoy them as much as all that. I can listen to Dave Mustaine and his traveling circus of rotating band members any time and enjoy it well enough, but the question of why people think this band is so great continues to elude me. Why? Well, let’s take a look at their latest metallic venture entitled Endgame to find out.
So Dave is back after a few years with a new band, most notably in the inclusion of much-ballyhooed ex-Jag Panzer guitarist Chris Broderick. I guess that got some common sense into Dave’s head, because here there is a marked decline in the spoken-word political diatribes that often plagued United Abominations. Yes, imagine that, most of the vocal parts on an album actually being singing; what an innovative concept. The band pulls their weight well enough, with no-one putting on a particularly spellbinding performance except for maybe Broderick, who has been given elongated lead guitar sections just to show him off – but it’s actually kind of forgivable, as it is pretty entertaining in combination with Mustaine’s biting riffs and reedy vocal ramblings. No surprises anywhere, but everything is done well enough. Solid is the right word to use here.
The songs are all in the decent to good range, with the best ones being the opening volley of “Dialectic Chaos” and “This Day We Fight,” the chugging, snarling, smoldering mass of steel that is the title track and the strangely balladic “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed with a Kiss.” Even the mediocre songs like “Bodies” and “How the Story Ends” still have enough leads and riffs to not become worthy of skipping, so it’s all good. One thing I do like about this album is that Dave just focused on writing kickass songs, with no gimmickry and only a smidgen of politically fueled nonsense this time around. The songs only have one modus operandi, and that is kicking your ass.
But again, I just don’t think this album, or Megadeth in general, are anything really amazing. They just don’t have any real identity, and that’s much more important than most people give them credit for. Every once in a while you hear a song like “44 Minutes,” with its chunky rhythms and attitude-filled chorus, and think Hey, that sounds like Megadeth, but most of the time, Dave’s constant attitude changes and band changes render Megadeth void of any kind of signature flavor, if that makes sense. The band is TOO metamorphic; they have been even since the early days. Dave writes cool riffs, but the feel is different from album to album, in a gap that is too wide for them to hide behind the ‘variety’ failsafe.
A good band doesn’t just write good songs, but they write good songs while establishing an identity that will be expounded upon and revisited in future albums – yeah, you get some bands that change style and get a new identity, but that’s still different and more respectable than what Dave Mustaine has dug himself into. Megadeth just doesn’t have any kind of real style to them, and as a result, whenever I hear one of their songs without already knowing who it is, I go, what band is this again? That goes double for Endgame. This is a good album, but realistically it’s more like ‘Generic Metal Album Number X’ than an album by a storied and popular band making a comeback. Check it out if you want solid Heavy Metal.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Finally, after riding the excessive hype-train that the 2 albums before it did, Megadeth's new album is here and ready to be either praised by the fanboys as yet another "return to form", or be ridiculed by all those raving "haters" as the same old crap being put out since all their other post-“Risk” material. While I'm not exactly the type of guy who claims that Dave and co. can do no wrong, I actually am much more towards the former part of that equation. It's not perfect by any means, but this is a VERY good offering and a great release that will satisfy long time fans and most anybody else with a taste in good metal.
There are 2 major things to discuss right off the bat with this album. First off, there's actually quite a lot of what many people would call thrash on this record. And, even more importantly, when there isn't any real thrashing going on, it's still a completely metal release from start to finish. No questionable moments of sissy musicianship, no hard rock-in-metal-clothing type of stuff, just a really good metal album. With everything from “The World Needs a Hero” through “United Abominations”, there was a lot of stuff on those albums that really wasn't quality music. And it was a shame, because that stuff really held down the material that could've actually gone somewhere with the ideas each of them had.
There were/are a lot of comparisons that were/are being made about this album with the rest of Megadeth's quality releases from years back. I saw a lot of “Rust in Peace” similarities on this, with the most striking resemblance of that one being the solos being thrown in all over the place. There are a good amount of songs that feature multiple sections and dueling leads from Mustaine and Broderick, who is actually a phenomenal guitar player. Song wise, “Endgame” is pretty much the most similar to SFSGSW honestly, only because it's not the relentless shred-fests that the other 3 initial albums were.
Anyway, concerning the thrash parts of this one, there is some really good stuff to be heard here. “1,320”, despite having some slightly pedestrian sections sandwiched into it, is some really good thrash, with a riff that really reminds me of some stuff on their debut, just much slower. The opener combo of “Dialectic Chaos” and “This Day We Fight!” is another really thrashy mix of songs and may just be the best simply because of its sheer long length compared to the other thrash. These are really reminiscent of “Into the Lungs of Hell” and “Set the World Afire” from SFSGSW, which is probably why I think of that album in tandem with this one. “Bite the Hand” speeds up into a pretty damn solid speedy metal, as does the title track, which is a stand-out thrash epic in structure. And of course, there's “Head Crusher”, which still really blows me away after being the first song I heard off this as a single. This is such a ridiculous song for the year it was released in and I have to hail it as being the best track along with the aforementioned “This Day We Fight!” combo. Yeah, it has a spoken narrative passage (during that VICIOUS thrash break), but I really didn't have to much of a problem with those as a lot of other people did. When used sparingly and in the right situations, they can really enhance some songs, which is actually what happens with this one.
The rest of the album, while not being bad by any means whatsoever, is a slight step below the crushing onslaught of songs already noted. With the exception of a few, they all seem to have a little too much commercial draw to them, pretty much intended for the listener outside of the die-hard metal fans. The only one I may not actually like is “44 Minutes”, as it's just a bit more saturated with casual listening vibes than the others, although “The Right to Go Insane” was a big disappointment, because I thought that the album would have ended much better on “How The Story Ends”, and it's position right after that makes it feel like filler to me. Again, not bad, just not really what I want to hear out of the rest of this album. Also, another big issue on the album is the production, which kind of detracts from the overall listening. It's really good modern production, and that seems to be the biggest flaw with it. The guitars have a tinge of that really annoying sound that most metalcore releases of today tend to have, and that personally makes me sick. I actually couldn't really get into it my first listen because of that, it makes the more mid-paced songs sound mediocre and uninteresting to a certain degree (similar to the how the songs of same type sounded on the previous ones).
As for the lineup, you won't hear anything new out of Drover or LoMenzo, they're really just the competent musicians to really make Megadeth an actual band instead of just the Dave Mustaine Band. But, as stated before, Broderick is disgusting, and he can really fucking shred. He's a lot more like Marty than Poland, as they both have a really clean yet frantic type of soloing that sounds inhuman. You'll hear a lot the RIP comparisons within this guy's soloing. And according to just about everybody else who has heard this album, Dave’s voice has improved a lot. I only mention this because I actually thought that his vocals were a highlight of the good Megadeth albums, yet most people tend to agree that he couldn’t sing remotely well. All those weird accents and voice changes he puts into certain songs make me compare him a lot to many other “bad” vocalists who were more of a symbolic presence rather than a boatload of talent (Paul Baloff, Sean Killian anyone?).
Without a doubt in my mind, I can recommend this purchase to someone who, frankly, just wants to hear more quality metal. Even ignoring the fact it came out a week ago, this is still surprisingly awesome stuff to come out of Megadeth in a while. Hell, I didn't even have that much of a problem with UA, but there were QUITE a few crippling flaws with that one that were pretty much all fixed on this one. Anyone that had faith in Megadeth to release something worth your money after “Youthanasia” (or even RIP for those hard asses), your prayers have been answered.
I’ve gone back and forth over the years concerning whether Megadeth or Slayer was the member of the so-called Big 4 who fell the softest after the close of the 80s, but lately it seems as though Mustaine and company have come out shinning far better than the rest. The only really enemy that he’s had has been the amazingly unrealistic expectations of many in Megadeth’s core fan base, but that hasn’t dissuaded them from writing solid thrashing heavy metal with a few occasional slip ups lately. Although perhaps the rapid lineup variations that ensued after Dave Ellefson have given off an air of inconsistency, the overall sound of the band has remained relatively constant in the past few years.
Things really started to look up with the release of “United Abominations”, which saw the exciting lead guitar duels and riff happy melodic songwriting that had largely been abandoned come back with a vengeance. Nonetheless, those who were looking for a return to form in concert with “Rust In Peace” were definitely not satisfied, as what resulted was a mixture of late 80s and early to mid 90s Megadeth, done very well I might add. However, if these relentless old school thrash maniacs wanted something akin to this band’s glory days, they need have only waited an additional 2 years for this mean pile of heaviness to hit the shelves.
“Endgame” is, from start to finish, a skull crushing iron boot to the head of what passes for aggression in many quarters today. It doesn’t seek to emulate the progressive tendencies of “Rust In Peace”, the all speed, all the time mayhem of “Killing Is My Business”, or the classic pure thrash masterpiece “Peace Sells”, but ventures dangerously close to the underrated power/thrash majesty of “So Far, So Good, So What?”. What this consists of is a good deal less studio gimmicks and a good deal more fist pounding, guitar oriented metal. From beginning to end it’s catchy, it’s mean, and it cuts right to the chase.
Probably the only thing that really makes this unique from Megadeth’s 80s albums, as the production is a pretty close emulation of their original sound, is the level of quality and emphasis put on the guitar solos. This becomes more than evident right at the start of the album on “Dialectic Chaos”, which showcases Dave and newly recruited former Jag Panzer wizard Chris Broderick battling each other in a manner that would rival the most insane lead moments on “Hanger 18” and “Holy Wars”. A good analogy could be made to the Tipton and Downing dueling leads on “Painkiller”, loaded with rapid speed licks, but overtop a much more chaotic arrangement.
Much like this band’s unsung 1988 hero of an album, there is a regulated sense of pacing that keeps this from being a 100% thrash album, at least by the standards set by “Darkness Descends”, “Eternal Nightmare” and a host of other albums from the later 80s where speed was as much a factor as riffing. “44 Minutes” and “How The Story Ends” listen closer to a slightly heavier version of Accept with a couple of thrash riffs littered here and there. “Bodies” reverts to the slow paced fanfare of “Symphony Of Destruction”, but with a little more to the song than 3 riffs.
Apart from the aforementioned songs, a slightly slower version of the pummeling heaviness of thrash metal in “The Right To Go Insane” and a gloomy epic ballad that reminds a tiny bit of Nuclear Assault’s “Brain Damage”, but with a bit more melody and atmosphere, the rest of this album is a pretty solid wrecking ball of punchy, hard edged thrash metal the way that any fan of the 80s version of the style can appreciate it. Between the unfettered chaos of “This Day We Fight”, the classic speed metal glory of “1,320”, and the middle ground between the two in “Head Crusher”, if the words “Megadeth just brought home the goods” don’t echo in your ears with each thudding power chord, nothing will please you.
Phrases like “essential purchase” often get thrown around, but in this case I’d say it safely avoids being a mere selling point for a band that was a force in the metal world years ago. This is definitely the best thing that the band has done since 1990, and rivals their earlier works. There’s no soft rock influences, no goofy songs of love gone wrong, just good angst ridden metal with the political subjects and storylines to match. Get it for the solos, get it for a superior vocal performance out of Mustaine, get it for the ingeniously epic riff fest of a title track. Just remember the key point of picking this up as soon as humanly possible, even if it means selling yourself on the street for nickels and dimes at a time.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on September 25, 2009.
Megadeth has been a band that seems to be slipping further and further into the abyss over the years. With average albums and Dave Mustaine getting older and older, nobody thought Megadeth could get out of the well before it completely flooded. This is defiantly a step in a positive direction
“Endgame” begins with the instrumental “Dialectic Chaos” which is actually a very good start. “This Day We Fight” is a fast, chaotic song with a nice solo. Similar to the past two opening songs on previous Megadeth albums. Mediocre writing plagues this album, and “44 Minutes” is a good example of that. Many of the lines just seem cheesy and forced. The song itself isn’t too bad if you can’t get passed the writing. Some tracks do get past this problem. “Headcrusher” I must admit kicks some serious ass. Everything about this piece is what Dave promised. It’s the best song on the album.
Dave Mustaine’s vocals have gotten much better over the years. His performance here is quite good and consistent, as well as his guitar playing. Chris Broderick has lived up to the expectations and he does a fantastic job. The solo’s are unique in there own way and he brings back something Megadeth have been missing for a long time. Shawn Dover does his job here on drums, nothing really surprising, and the bass playing is what you’d expect it to be from James LoMenzo.
“Bite the Hand That Feeds,” “Bodies,” “Endgame,” and “The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With A Kiss,” are all just too boring and mundane to really enjoy. There not entirely dreadful, but just bland. While this album does have some bright spots, the same old problems still remain here. Very spotty writing, the aura of filler, and the same old song repackaged. If you hated “United Abominations” and almost gave up on Megadeth, this will change your mind. It has more speed, which is what the die-hards wanted, and talent. However I was left with the question “That’s it? That’s what I’ve been waiting for?” Give it a shot, you might have a different opinion. Not the best Megadeth album, but a step in the right direction.
I had given up all hope on Megadeth after the rather bland The System has Failed and the atrocity of United Abominations. United Abominations showed that Megadeth still had some potential with the first couple of tracks but I did not think that they would manage to build off of it. When I first heard about Endgame I didn’t pay attention till someone linked me Head Crusher. This was a fantastic song but I remained very skeptical as I expected this to be a one off. I was assured though that the rest of the album was good so I decided to check it out. And I am glad I did, as this is the best thing Megadeth has released since Countdown to Extinction.
The album opens up with some fairly solid guitar shredding. Is Dave trying to prove something here? I’m sure he probably is and it is nice that there is something to motivate him to write a quality album once again. The album then progresses to include a variety of tracks. The thrashier tracks sound like they could have fit on Countdown to Extinction and others are more mid-paced and have a nice groove going. However, there are no throwaway tracks to my surprise as Dave has included so many on albums for years. Even the ballad, The Hardest Part of Letting Go is relatively solid, though it does take a little bit to get going.
Guitar solos are all over the place and this is one of the things that made Rust in Peace so special for me. Megadeth haven’t done this on any of their albums in a long while so it is really refreshing to hear. And you know what? Dave can still play some pretty mean solos. The solos are pretty much standard Megadeth fashion being melodic, and drawn out while sometimes picking up the intensity. The riffs are not bad either with more thrash riffs in Endgame than they have recorded in total since Countdown to Extinction.
Dave’s voice has watered down a bit over the years though nothing like Hetfield. His voice still includes some of the venom, though this only really shines on a few tracks and most of the time he just sings in his standard melodic fashion though somewhat improved over the last few albums.
Unfortunately Head Crusher is really the only track that blows me away. This is in the same style to Tornado of Souls and Hangar 18, and almost reaches them in quality. This Day We Fight!, is a pretty intense thrasher as well. However, none of the others can match these in intensity. The others certainly have their moments, especially Endgame and 1320 but are still enjoyable as they are so catchy and not overly watered down like the tracks on United Abominations and The System has Failed.
If you are expecting a Rust in Peace 2 then you should look elsewhere as this is not it, but this is still a very solid album that any thrasher or fan of heavy metal can be proud to have in their collection. I have regained my faith in Megadeth. Lets hope it stays for a long while.
Standout tracks: Head Crusher, This Day We Fight, 1320, Endgame
With such a fantastic release as Endgame, where does one begin to comment? I made the a priori decision to avoid all references to past Megadeth works with this review, the rationale being that I'm sure many comparisons could be made, but such comparisons may potentially 'cheapen' the praise that Endgame surely deserves. I did, however, decide to make one comparison between Endgame and Death Magnetic. While the latter caused me to think that "Metallica might still have the goods", the former has forced me to conclude that "Mustaine/Megadeth still has/have the goods". The uncertainty is missing in the case of Megadeth, all thanks to Endgame. That is all I want to say on this matter, and I hope that both bands inspire eachother to compete for awesome metal dominance.
With the inter-band politics swept under the rug, let's move onto the music itself. Dave's cynical snarl is back, which perfectly suits the socio-political themes present throughout Endgame's playing time. Lyrically, this is quite a political album, without being preachy or dogmatic. My only criticism on the vocals is the lack of higher range singing. Dave mostly sticks to the low/mid register, but it kind of suits the ominous themes and narrative form of the lyrics on Endgame. Overall the vocals deliver sufficiently, but a little more melodic variety would have been appreciated, in my humble opinion.
The riffage just owns on Endgame. There is no ambiguity about whether Endgame is a metal record or not. After all that MegaDave has been through in his life (i.e. drug/alcohol abuse, arm injury, etc.), and being only 6 years younger than my father, he is still nonetheless a very sharp player and composer by anyone's standards. Have a listen to Head Crusher and tell me that it doesn't literally crush heads. Dave has written/arranged an aggressive, yet tastefully melodic maelstrom of ostinati that overall, would not look alien next to certain genre-destroying metal masterpieces of the mid to late 80's. Furthermore, lead shredder Chris Broderick proves his mettle on Endgame, he has a very fluid style of playing and I would say he is up there with Friedman in terms of technical prowess. Different feel between the two players mind you, but equal proficiency. Still, I have to say that I miss David Ellefson. The bass is audible enough on Endgame, but something special is missing that Junior possessed.
As for drums, well, Drover is excellent and I have nothing bad at all to say about his performance on Endgame. I think that this praise is at least partially due to the production of the album. The drums are crisp and just high and compressed enough in the mix to make you want to break furniture and destroy tap fixtures. Performance-wise, I sincerely hope that Dave holds onto Drover permanantly, as I feel that he is key to the evolving 'brutal' sound of Megadeth.
All in all, and without referencing past Megadeth albums (certainly it was hard to abstain from this, believe me), Endgame is a killer album that I am sure will become known as a classic in time. Skeptics, give it a chance, you will be impressed.
This Day We Fight!
Megadeth, aka Dave Mustaine, has always had a huge ego and carried big grudges against several bands, most notably his old band Metallica. It seems that the one thing that can fire Dave up to put out an ass kicking metal album is Metallica putting out a “good” album. With Death Magnetic getting tons of praise you knew that Dave would put every effort into bettering them, and with Endgame he pretty much did that.
Opening with an instrumental you get the feeling that Dave is ready to show off on this one and he puts on a clinic at several points on this album. While the album has some tracks that are more typical of later era Megadeth, mid paced tunes with a decent groove and crunching riffs, the highlights are the raging thrashers. When This Day We Fight kicks in you know Dave isn’t fucking around. Supposedly based on viewing the Return of The King movie, this song is about fighting and dying and the music fits perfectly. Great solos by Dave and Broderick fit right in with the fast thrash riffage and his signature vocal delivery.
Megadeth works best when there are solos left and right, and this album is filled with that. No point in waiting for the typical solo section near the end of the song when you can rip those fuckers off at every point possible. 1320 is another fine example opening up with a total Megadeth riff, fast and melodic yet heavy as hell. With lyrics about drag racing the music better keep up and it does. As the song closes out Dave and Chris go on a solo rampage that defies you to not head bang.
Head Crusher is the first single and a hell of a choice for that I think. Opening with screaming solos before settling into the main groove this is just what the title says, a head crusher. Fast guitars, fast drums, and a simple but effective chorus. Death from the head crusher indeed. This song convinced me to buy my first 'deth album since Countdown to Extinction and I'm glad I did.
It’s not all good though, songs like 44 Minutes drag and with the lyrics not flowing very well the song feels a bit disjointed at times. There is a lot of mid paced material here, which Dave does well for the most part, but after the fast thrash of early mentioned songs they can feel like energy sappers at times. But at no point is this album anything less than total metal. No hard rock here, nothing but Dave looking to crush all opposition.
The production is pretty good, not totally compressed to hell and the bass is right there in the mix where you can hear it but it doesn’t dominate and the drums have some punch just like they should. Perfect no, but compared to the shit hyper compressed production so many albums get today I’ll take it.
Lyrically the album isn’t a big departure from early albums, songs about violence, war, the government, shoot outs, etc. It’s good though, and fits the feel of the songs and his unique voice very well for the most part. The title track seems to have been lyrically influenced by the Endgame documentary by Alex Jones, a noted conspiracy theorist.
Is this album going to reinvent thrash metal or take Megadeth to new heights? No. But it is a rock solid album from the king of thrash riffage that will surely delight long time fans and anyone who enjoys good metal.
This Day We Fight, 1320, Head Crusher, How The Story Ends, Bite The Hand
Just about everyone knows that Megadeth's been using Metallica's faces to mop the floor for about 20 years now and Endgame is just another case in point. My expectations weren't too high for this album. I mean, I liked both The System Has Failed and United Abominations, but they were half good, half filler. The filler on United Abominations was better than the filler on The System Has Failed...but filler is filler. So I was expecting some good songs and a lot of filler like the last 3 albums. Those expectations have definitely been exceeded. There are only two songs on here I would consider calling filler, and they're at the bottom of the list below.
After three straight days of listening to this album intensely--which by the way is something that has not happened between myself and a Megadeth album since Youthanasia came out when I was 14--I am very pleased. Yeah, it's waaaaay better than Death Magnetic and it smokes anything Megadeth have put out since at least Youthanasia. I have a lot of fond memories attached to that record, so I'm not sure if Endgame is better than it or Countdown To Extinction. Time will tell on that one. But I can say this: it's definitely got more balls than both of them combined and is easily their heaviest record since Rust In Peace.
There's elements from a lot of previous Megadeth albums. The slower, lumbering songs I'd liken more to stuff from Countdown To Extinction with a bit of So Far, So Good, So What! in the mix. The blazers definitely have a bit of So Far, So Good, So What! in them as well, as well as what we've heard on the faster tracks of The System Has Failed (think Kick The Chair) and United Abominations (think Sleepwalker and Washington Is Next!). What this album seems to have that the last several haven't is flow and consistency. Yeah, the guys let off the gas pedal and then slam it right back on, but I don't really find myself being bored with certain songs--everything gels very well. There also isn't a stupid A Tout Le Monde remake to fuck this record up either and make you look at your stereo and ask "Why, Dave? Why would you do this?".
The riffs are here (see This Day We Fight!, Headcrusher and Bodies), the solos are here (see Dialectic Chaos and well...everywhere else), the catchy vocal melodies are here (see The Right To Go Insane and How The Story Ends). Lyrically, this album is far from a masterpiece but Mustaine's never exactly been a brilliant poet and hasn't had the need to be in a band such as this. Despite lyrical shortcomings, you'll find yourself digging them the more you listen to it, just like you did with so many Megadeth albums years ago. It's about fuckin' time.
This Day We Fight!
How The Story Ends
The Right To Go Insane
Still friggin' rad:
Good, but the weakest of the album:
Bite The Hand
The Hardest Part Of Letting Go...Sealed With A Kiss
I think this is the record that Mustaine has been trying to make since the turn of the century. This is an album where I have finally been able to sit down and enjoy the shit out of it, bang my head and just get lost in it instead of thinking "Well this is a step in the right direction, I hope the next one is better".
And yeah, poor Metallica. You guys finally put out a decent album for the first time in 20 years and Megadeth drives over it with a tank the next year. Life's a bitch.
When I first heard that Megadeth were planning to record a new album, I felt really excited. Dave Mustaine and his companions never failed to impress me and have worthfully earned the no.1 position in my favourite bands' list. When I listened to "Head Crusher", the first single of the album, I was sure that their new album will be heavy as hell. After listening to "1,320", the second single, my expectations were very high. These expectations were finally met when I heard the album at its entirety.
"Endgame", the follow-up to "United Abominations", is probably the best album the band has released since the 90's and shows the thrash direction the band has returned to, over the last years. It's also the first album to feature Megadeth's new guitarist, Chris Broderick, who is responsible for the most of the groundbreaking solo work here. His addition to Megadeth seems to have had a very good effect to the band and he proves that he is worthy of this position.
Musically, the band tries almost everything, from acoustic pieces to thrash riffs and super-fast solos, which is what they have always been doing so far. Throughout the album you can find many great riffs and guitar solos that totally steal the show, some of the best choruses the band has ever written, nice melodies, solid and well executed drumming, as well as a very good vocal work by Mustaine. Moreover, the great production gives the songs even more kick. As for the lyrics, Mustaine touches some social/political subjects as always ("44 Minutes", "Bite The Hand That Feeds", "Endgame", "The Right To Go Insane"), explores some battle themes ("This Day We Fight!", "How The Story Ends") and even sings about funny cars ("1,320"), relationships ("Bodies Left Behind', "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go... Sealed With A Kiss") and a medieval torture device ("Head Crusher").
The album starts off with an instrumental, "Dialectic Chaos" (resembling "Into The Lungs Of Hell" from "So Far, So Good... So What!), which really gets you into the album. It continues with "This Day We Fight!", an angry and fast song, that defines the overall sound of the album. Next is "44 Minutes", one of "Endgame's" melodic highlights, which contains the album's most memorable chorus. "1,320" brings a more "old school" feeling to the album, while songs like "Bite The Hand That Feeds" and "Bodies Left Behind" makes you sure that you are listening to a real 'deth record! "Endgame", the title track, which starts off with a somewhat "anxious" intro, lets you know that Mr. Mustaine isn't kidding... "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go... Sealed With A Kiss" shows a more melodic approach, while "Head Crusher" delivers more vicious riffing and a catchy chorus. The album goes on with "How The Story Ends", another powerful song and finally closes with "The Right To Go Insane" which besides being a very good song (with another nice chorus as well), is also a great closing track for a great album.
To sum up, "Endgame" is another great album by the real thrash metal pioneers. It shows that Megadeth still has a lot to offer to the heavy scene after all these years and that they still kick ass as of 2009! If you're a Megadeth fan it's a must-have; for those that aren't fans of the band (yet...), it's still worth listening.
Well, if it isn't MegaDave and his gang again. What do they have for us this time? We'll find that out pretty soon.
This was a very big surprise for me, and hopefully for many other metalheads out there. What comes to mind if you hear the word Thrash? Wouldn't you think about the 80's? Wouldn't you start thinking about the good old days when Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax were great? Well, you don't really have to anymore, at least not for Megadeth. Because this album is totally fucking amazing!
The album opens with the deadly track "Dialetic Chaos", which is a monster! It's full of incredible riffs and solos. It's been a long time since I have heard such good guitar playing. Seriousley, this is impressive. I mean, Megadeth have always been good when it comes to guitar playing, but this is a surprise. Chris Broderick plays almost as good as Marty Friedman. He's really fast and technical at the same time, which makes a very good guitar player. That you can already hear, as you fill your ears with Dialetic Chaos! Then, the album goes right into the next track "This Day We Fight!" In my opinion, this is the best song on the album. If I were to say that Dave is once again thrashing like the good old days when Peace Sells was a new album, you wouldn't believe it. Not even I would believe it at first, but when I heard this song, I realized that it is possible.
The whole album is good. There's not a single shitty song on the whole record! This makes the album a very special one, and it is. It is actually the best thing they've done since Youthanasia! But when Dave said that he thought it was the best record he had written in his whole career, I just had to disagree. It is almost on the same level as the old stuff they made, but not that good. But let's not focus on what is best of then and now. The 80's will forever be the 80's. Bands can still make good music. Metallica has also showed that they are capable of making some kind of thrash still. I must say that Death Magnetic was a good album, but I didn't like the production so much though. But this isn't a Death Magnetic review. This is an Endgame review! And if anybody was wondering, then I can assure you that it kicks Metallica's ass straight to hell!
So, are you guys wondering how Dave's voice is doing? Well then. He does a great job on vocals! He has actually got some of his snarling back. I felt that on UA, he was a little more relaxed. However, this time he has went all out when it comes to vocals. He does an absolutely great job! Not only does he have to concentrate on his vocals, but on the guitar as well. He and Chris are doing some pretty sick riffs and solos together. It's a satisfaction for my ears. I love all the solos and riffs on this CD. They have that dark atmosphere over them, which only Deth knows how to create. Same for the drumming. Shawn really lived up to my expectations. We don't need Nick Menza when we got this guy. Nick is better off in Memorain. And then, it is the bass. James isn't quite as skilled as Ellefson was, in my opinion. I mean, he's goot and all, but Ellefson was better. The bass isn't that important for me though. As long as it is there, it's OK with me.
If you want me to describe the music very short and simple, then I would say it is melodic thrash metal. Melodic thrash with anger. That is what this album is all about. Dave has really made a point with Endgame. He shows many different sides of himself. From the angry one in "This Day We Fight" to the sad one in "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go". The point of this album must be, "Even though we're old, we can still fuckin' thrash!" So if you are a metalhead, then you're ordered to buy this one. I bought it yesterday, and I will never regret it!
This Day We Fight
The Hardest Part Of Letting Go... Sealed With A Kiss
This is the end of the road. This is the end of the line. This is the end of your life. This is the Endgame!!