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Let's get something straight here. I haven't enjoyed Megadeth's last three albums (and I don't own 'The World Needs A Hero'). Which is funny because I would normally consider myself a pretty big fan of the band, but the last three albums have been such over hyped ear disease that I literally gave up all hope, especially after seeing how terrible they are live these days (2011 Big Four show in UK).
'Public Enemy No. 1' is a breath of fresh air. It combines the styles of both 'Countdown to Exctinction' ('Skin O My Teeth', 'High Speed Dirt') and 'Cryptic Writings' ('She Wolf', 'The Disintegrators'), only the solos still aren't quite the same, and Dave's voice isn't as great. On the last two albums, Mustaine has gotten by just croaking horribly instead of actually trying a vocal melody, and I have hated him for it. Thankfully, with 'Public...' he finally sings a proper tune, albeit in a lower octave than I'd like. But it's a step forward. He sounds insanely weak live, but this studio performance is absolutely fine!
Unfortunately, part of the enjoyment of the song rides on the fact that the verses are quite similar to the intro of 'Hangar 18', the verses of 'Tears In A Vial'. That's the reason some of their newest stuff sounds like old Megadeth. Not because he's actually writing something good, but because he's ripping off his own riffs all the time. But I can't complain, because for once he's quite successful doing it on 'Public Enemy No. 1'. The only other small complaint is the obvious attempt at trying to copy Marty Friedman's soloing style in the middle solo, albeit in a rather tame fashion. But it's better than Broderick and Mustaine's usual faceless guitar wankery.
'Sudden Death' was a bit too generic thrash for me, a little bit too similar to things off 'Endgame'. But this track is making me look forward to the stupidly titled 'TH1RT3EN'. My only worry now is the track list. It includes two songs, 'Millennium of the Blind' and 'New World Order', which were the titles of slightly pedestrian demo tracks from Megadeth's last truly brilliant album 'Youthanasia', so I'm guessing Mustaine has committed the sin of being a total cheap ass and rerecorded them, no doubt to get people to rave about the 'old sound' being back. Yes. 17 years ago, Megadeth sounded like Megadeth did... 17 years ago. Why put effort in to writing something truly exciting when you can just rerecord your old music and pass it off as new? Anyway. All things considered, 'Public Enemy No. 1' is a great little track, and in my eyes a sign that Megadeth can do some good in the music world once again.
Alright, so in these last years, we've really been getting it from Megadeth! A great album in 2009, an awesome single last year, and now this! I gotta say, I am pretty satisfied with this alright! But, there is one thing that we would need to discuss. And that's the whole thrash situation, so keep on reading!
So, one thing we can get out of the way without a doubt is that this is not a thrash song. This is a heavy/speed metal song, and why not be cool with that? It's still pure metal! No "Risk" here! Great galloping riffs that you often hear in speed metal, and cool vocals on top of it! For Dave has really been improving in the vocal department over the years, at least on the albums.
Now, one thing I also should probably mention (and this is also a reason why I don't give this a 100% score right away) is that the verse riff is taken straight out of Tears In A Vial from The System Has Failed. That is definitely not the most original idea they could come up with, but it's an awesome riff though, so why not? And you've gotta admit, those lyrics are pretty cool alright!
The production is also just a little bit different from Endgame and United Abominations, but I guess that's because Johnny K. produces the record. I wasn't sure if I liked it as much as Sneaps production, but I've gotten to love this style as well now!
I think it was a good choice to make this the first single of the album. The thing that has been bugging me a little with the whole first single thing is that they always seem to choose the fastest songs as the first single. Anthrax just did with Worship Music, and Megadeth did it pretty much with Endgame as well (except This Day We Fight). But now, I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of the album, and hopefully, there will be some thrashers in there I will bang my head to for at least 2 years.