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Eschewing pure speed for a ton of great music - 85%

DethFanatic, February 18th, 2010

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.