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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.