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I was really looking forward to this album; finally another Megadeth album with a truly amazing lead guitarist. The first track, “Dialectic Chaos”, shows just that, Mustaine and Broderick dueling for the majority of the intro/song, pretty much like the track “Into the Lungs of Hell” on “So Far, So Good …So What!”. Immediately I get the feeling that, while I am indeed deeply impressed by the technical skills of Broderick, this isn’t leading anywhere. Unfortunately, the rest of the material on this album tends to confirm this awkward feeling. The first real track, “This Day We Fight”, which is lyrically inspired by Tolkien (yawn), is really fast and thrashy with lots of guitar solos, but just isn’t memorable. “44 Minutes” starts out with the standard annoying Megadeth gimmick that started popping up ever since the “Countdown” days: sampled radio voices. I understand that Mustaine has quite a limited vocal range and that using samples is a way to offer some variation, but please.
By the third actual song, “1,320”, it becomes evident that Mustaine and Megadeth aren’t concerned with a sense of general atmosphere or continuity. Starting out with samples of engine noises, we are treated with a song on…racing. Once again the meatless cadaver that is this song is camouflaged with lots of guitar solos. Clearly noticeable, Broderick and Mustaine take turns, and the more complex soloing of Broderick taking turns with the pentatonic doodling of Mustaine.
As with every Megadeth album, the actual quality of the songs differ greatly, with the cringe- worthy ballad, “The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed With A Kiss”, being the absolute rock bottom. I never understood people heralding Megadeth as being a “true” thrash band, as they have always had obvious “attempts at mainstream hits” on their albums.
“Head Crusher” is perhaps the most interesting and most appealing song on the album, successfully dosing the guitar wankery with actual riffs and hooks.
Megadeth has always been regarded as one of the most skilled bands in the scene. I have no complaints whatsoever about the guitar work. The vocals of Mustaine have always been what they have been; more or less a “take it or leave it” kind of deal. I am really unimpressed with the stale and lifeless drumming of Shawn Drover. It does the job, I guess, but that’s all there is to say about it.
Like all albums post-Friedman, you can rest assured that none of these tracks will ever turn out to be Megadeth classics. With reason, Megadeth set lists will always mainly consist of material written up to the mid-'90s.