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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"