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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!