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Usually when a band puts out their worst release, their music gets progressively worse leading up to that terrible album. Such as with Metallica. They had Load which was pretty good but nothing like what they've done, Reload which was pretty bad, leading up to St. Anger which is their worst one (I don't count Lulu). With Megadeth's Risk here, it is different. Every album out before this was great, or at least good, but then suddenly this atrocity hits the market. And then everything after that isn't too bad either. How the fuck does that work? Regardless, this is definitely the worst album that Dave and the boys (whoever they are, it changes every album) have ever done.
With some experimentation to the extreme, we are given a hard rock album with some mechanics and formulas of other sounds that would be rather unique for a band like Megadeth. Here we are given a lot of industrial elements. The drums sound way different than they sound on anything else released, and as much as it's probably just some weird way that it was set, it almost sounds electronic. That doesn't go to well with a thrash metal band, although I could not come close to calling this album in particular thrash metal. There's also a decent amount of electronic use for effects and instrumentation. It's most heavily used on the first half of the album, particularly the first two tracks. The first one, "Insomnia" attempts to give it an atmospheric feeling, which it horribly fails at doing so. Hell, when I first listened to this, it sounded like they were working with Marilyn Manson. It does not work. The second one, "Prince Of Darkness", has a lot of spoken word in it, and as weird as it is, I somewhat like this song. The only reason why I like it is because of the cool intro, and the riff that transitions that into the music. This part of the track is one of the very few good things I have to say about this. The rest of this track sorta sucks though, because it's still extremely cheesy, poorly written, and the lyrics after the suspenseful intro are pretty fucking stupid and repetitive. Overall, the entire album has way too much spoken word, with this intro being the only part it was effective and done well. Being done poorly is evident in over half of the tracks, especially in "The Doctor Is Calling". It gets old really fast, and doesn't add anything special to this album.
Along with this industrial revolution we have, everything is very soft and almost sounds poppy at some moments. No, I would not call this pop rock by any means, this is not Blink-182. But hell, "I'll Be There" is extremely pop driven and way softer than anything that this band would ever do. That's ok if done correctly, but it isn't here. All of the vocals are so monotone that it's impossible to get into. Dave seems to have lost all emotion. I mentioned that I would not call this thrash, and because of that we have absolutely no speed whatsoever. Everything is so slow, and a natural part of being slow can easily be whiney if not done carefully. Of course, that's what we get, because Dave's voice is sorta whiney in general. But at least that fits thrash metal. As far as this goes, no way! Almost all of the vocals are painful to the ear and have no variety to their sound. They're just a bunch of notes that are held for a while, and it sounds awful. One of the only other tracks on here that I like is "Breadline", because at least it isn't monotone and repetitive like almost all of the other songs on here. And here's a tip: adding violins and sound effects does not make up for something that is this absurd. That's an element heard here and there throughout the entire album. But just because "Trust" pulled it off very well on the previous album, doesn't mean that this sound is going to work all of the time. At least on that track, the rest of the music is amazing. On here, it's a failed attempt to cover up the awful vocal work, the cheesy written and repetitive lyrics, and the mediocre guitar work.
None of the riffs on here catch my attention at all other than on the few exceptions mentioned. They all sound the same and there's no variety at all, and quite frankly, they bore the hell out of me. There's hardly any solo work on here at all, which is a shame, because solos are a very important part of Megadeth's style. So I don't know what they were thinking when they cut a lot of that out. Sure, very briefly we can hear some good solo work, such as in "Seven", but other than that, it's practically non-existent.
In dropping Risk, Megadeth lost all speed and turned completely rock with some pop and industrial influence. None of that's pulled of correctly, and with it we lose our great guitar work we once had, and vocals with no variety as well as sounding whiney. Whoever thought this was a good idea clearly ran out of ideas and just came up with some new bullshit on the spot.
After setting aside speed and technicality for a more melodic path in the 90s that slowly became the hard rock sound found on Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings, Youthanasia was a solid release Cryptic Writings was a major disappointment. So of course many fans started passing on rumors of what the follow up would sound like. Only a small few of them at that time could truly predict what would come next though.
This is where Dave decided to play with all those genres that had been taboo through out his career so far, after releasing 2 hard rock albums it would seem he no longer saw a need to try and spoon feed metalheads material that would appease them, and so Megadeth saw the release of a pop rock album. One might argue there are too many influences (country, electronic, arena rock etc.) to simply sum it up as pop rock but most of these influences are pretty slight and only come in on a few tracks where as the pop rock elements are strong and present throughout. Either way its not the music you'd typically find on the shelf of any type of metalhead.
None of Megadeth's albums have ever had the same level of aggression and venom as Killing Is My Business, but this falls furthest from the tree. Dave shies away from aggression as much as he can, even their melodic thrash albums like Countdown to Extinction screamed out with anger but here its all different. He doesn't sound the slightest bit upset or even like hes trying to fake it, you can almost feel rainbows and sunshine spilling out of your speakers and ear buds on some tracks (Breadline for example seems very upbeat). As far as singing he does alright but he isn't anything special, especially with the lack of energy he seems to have. His emphasis is on how catchy he can make it (insomnianianiania).
As far as the guitar work goes its as simplistic as he could get away with, its mid tempo, not even really melodic except for the little jingle like hooks that are littered throughout; no technicality at all. Doesn't seem very energetic and has absolutely no edge at all. Its just there for those little hooks because like every other element to this album it revolves around being catchy, there are solos too but nothing of note. He treats us with some nice acoustic passages but they aren't utilized as much as they should be, they could make some pretty cool sections but exnay on that because he just wanted them there so that it wasn't all electric.
The drumming is so simple its practically 4 on the floor beats. Mean you often hear in basic level music classes that drums are just for keeping time and a nice simple beat for the instruments to follow and I swear to god this is the kind of thing they'd play after telling you that as an example. There is no substance to the drumming beyond that, might as well have fired the drummer and used a machine for this album. It has some electronic drum sections, which was a nice trick to throw things up and make something new, like the idea of the acoustic guitar it was one of the greatest ideas on this album but it was sorely under utilized. The bass just rounded out the sound.
I really must applaud Dave for the idea of this, I like the versatility, I like the new elements and hell this is the only time I've found country music to be acceptable (Wanderlust) but there are so many things to be improved upon. It doesn't even bother me that this album isn't metal in any way but there needs to be more to these songs then catchy choruses and hooks. You had a bunch of styles to play with but you didn't let any of them shine through properly. These are usually styles I hate too so the mere fact I'm not shitting all over it should speak volumes about his adaptive abilities even if it does leave room for improvement.
The title says it all, indeed, but just because dangerous Dave was warning us of his impending midlife crisis, doesn't make this a whole lot easier to ingest. On the other hand, Risk is all TOO easy to ingest, if you're some sort of anomalous disco-funk-rock-pop addict who fancies Mustaine's sneering rasp, puerile lyrics and just a feather dusting of metallic excess. We get it, Dave. You wanted to branch out. Expand yourself. Breach a new audience. Win some karma. Touch the baby Jesus of your soul. Well, I have it on Good Authority that the son of God actually hated this album, and had to binge Under the Sign of the Black Mark for weeks just to rid himself of its stain. But perhaps the biggest crime of this career low, is that there are a small handful of catchy moments scattered throughout the album which might have actually functioned from a pure pop or rock perspective had they not been driven to the winds by Mustaine's scatterbrained songwriting. As if he hired Diane Warren or some other pop author and then fired her half way through...
As with their esteemed Californian contemporaries Metallica and Slayer, or really almost any of the late 80s thrash titans, Megadeth was due for a reality check once their genre was no longer one of the biggest arena packers out there. Honestly, I'm surprised they managed to stave off sucking for quite so long. Aside from the embarrassment that was "Sweating Bullets", their Countdown to Extinction was pretty good, not to mention Youthanasia, which despite the slow, producer encouraged pace was loaded with worthwhile tunes. It wasn't until Cryptic Writings (1997) that they really fell off the horse, but even that paperweight of mediocrity glimmers when compared to this exercise in awful soul searching. If we were to count them, there might be all of two acceptable metal rhythms on Risk: the central Zeppelin groove in the opener "Insomnia", or the slow-stepping progressive doom leanings hinted at in "The Doctor is Calling". Otherwise, the 'heaviness' of this album serves as nothing more than window dressing for Mustaine and his troupe.
The lead guitars are sustainable enough (we wouldn't want Friedman and Mustaine losing their endorsements), and any dismay I might have towards the pop sterility of the production is precluded by the sheer insanity of the composition. Or rather, the lack of insanity. Just the first track alone ("Insomnia") cycles through techno rock, 'eclectic' strings, bluesy metal grooves, harmonic pop vocals and the hands-down most generic pattern of notes in the history of guitar music (starts at about 1:00 in the song). And this is probably one of the best pieces on the album! We are then subjected to the hilariously awful lyrics of "Prince of Darkness", with its trudging awful groove metal subtext that makes Black Label Society sound talented by comparison. Or worse, MUCH worse...the album's 'single', "Crush 'Em", which is preambled by a lame self affirmation of a crowd roaring ("Enter the Arena") while Dave shouts out CRUSH EM and the drums and bluesy, mean guitars prepare us for the worst. This is a fucking DISCO song with muted guitars that leap into predictable NWOBHM styled rhythms while some of the worst lyrics in Megadeth's career are spat out over the hissed 'gang' vocals...
I don't know about you, but by the time that song was over, I had already decided that I would be returning the CD to the record store later that day. And yet, an inner masochistic sensibility drove me forward into the cheap radio rock of "Breadline" and "I'll Be There", which feel like they might as well be Def Leppard outtakes, or "Wanderlust" which seems like it's an attempt to create a Megadeth edition of "Paradise City". The only song I really didn't hate on the latter half of the album was "The Doctor is Calling", which aside from a few dumb lyrical effects had a simple and effective momentum that felt like a mix of Alice Cooper and Queensryche. But truthfully, the remainder of this record is so barren of quality that you might start seeing tumbleweeds roll on by as you listen...
Thankfully this narcissistic knucklehead would come to his senses for the following effort The World Needs a Hero. It's not good, not even close to good, but it somewhat put the reigns on this experiment in banal cross-dressing and soul searching. 'Open-mindedness'. Believe me, I've got no problem whatsoever with a little experimentation, or even a LOT of experimentation, if the results produce a quality piece of music I can enjoy for years to come. Risk is simply nothing of the sort. The songs stink, the lyrics are often awkward and none of the external to metal components are novel, unique or adventurous, unless you consider a stroll through the sounds of the Billboard Top 40 to be 'adventurous'. Risk is safe, silly and incredibly sad: for all the wrong reasons.
Normally, I still happen to like releases by famous metal bands that have been heavily bashed by fans, journalists and critics. Those albums break with the past of the band and try out something fresh and new. The bands try to evolve and move on. While traditional fans may have problems with this new courage and innovation, I usually honour this as I listen to various styles of music. I liked the dark atmosphere of the underrated "Jugulator" by Judas Priest, the slow, progressive and hypnotizing flow of "Virtual XI" by Iron Maiden or the rock experiments on "Load" and "ReLoad" by Metallica. That's why somebody suggested me to check out the black sheep in Megadeth's discography. But I can't find much appealing on "Risk". This release is clearly worse than the other ones I have mentioned. This album is just horribly pointless even though there are a few experimental aspects I like about it.
You first happen to see the horrible and boring cover and booklet artwork of this record that gives you a negative impression right from the start. When you put the disc in, you immediately hear the weak production of the record. The re-mastered version is slightly better but it doesn't change the weak song writing. There is not one single sharp riff or one truly emotional guitar solo on here. The bass guitar is rarely audible but does actually an accurate job when you hear it in the horrible potpourri of "Prince Of Darkness" and the rather chilling progressive "Ecstasy" that is one of the few exceptions which I happen to like. It's probably my favourite song on here. The drum patterns are boring and exchangeable on the record as if the drummer had parts of his legs and arms broken. Just try out the weird progressive experiment "Wanderlust" that makes me want to run away. The vocals are completely bored and lack of power, inspiration and emotion. The lyrics are quite random, too. There really isn't much positive to find.
Musically, this record is a mixture of rock and roll music, groove metal and pop music. It's a record filled with missed experiments. "Breadline" and "Seven" sound like lost tracks from Metallica's "Load" covered by Bryan Adams. "The Doctor Is Calling" sounds like a glam rock track with some progressive elements played in slow motion. The industrial “mallcore” experiment on the danceable "Crush'em" and the ridiculous interlude "Enter The Arena" with some funky riffs has one of the worst choruses ever heard and the vocals are once again completely bored and pseudo-cool. The worst example might though be "Prince Of Darkness" which present us six minutes of weird underwater fart poetry without any structure. I don't have a clue why this song was chosen by fans to be on a greatest hits compilation of the band. Maybe they wanted to illustrate the worst song from the band's worst album.
There are still a couple of tracks that justify to not give an even lower rating on here. Let's underline that those tracks are somewhere between acceptable and good but the album has not a single outstanding moment or musical highlight whatsoever. But one can say that at least one half of the record is musically acceptable. "Insomnia" has a few good ideas such as interesting violin samples and an unusual chorus that I like. "The Doctor Is Calling" sounds like a glam rock track with some progressive elements played in slow motion but has an appealing atmosphere and a couple of good ideas. I would cite this as one of the mostly well done experiments on the record. "I'll be there" is a soft rock song with surprisingly emotional lyrics by the tough guy. The middle part reminds me of disco ballads from the seventies and eighties in the key of "Frankie Goes To Hollywood". "Ecstasy" sounds relaxing and progressive and is a well done experiment. The vocals are once more mediocre but the rest is quite enjoyable. The two "Time" tracks have some interesting acoustic passages and almost meditatively hypnotizing background vocals as well as well done guitar solo in the second part. As you can see there is still a lot of potential and creativity in some parts of the album.
But a few appealing courageous sounds are simply not enough to carry this pointless record as at least half of the experiments failed. The album ultimately fails especially because there is no true conviction and passion behind those intentions. Mustaine sounds like a bored egomaniac that wants to copy the latest Metallica efforts to make some money. I have heard albums that were still far worse than this inside and outside the metal scene even though this record is the weakest one I have heard in quite a while now. I will still give this album a try from time to time for tracks such as "The Doctor Is Calling", "Ecstasy" or "Time". But I honestly only recommend this record to die hard Megadeth fans and open-minded people that care about experimental rock music rather than thrash metal.
Well apparently lars ulrich was the excuse in making the album, He asked his former best friend dave to 'start taking some risks'. Dave mustaine and his pop metal friend marty friedman set out to just that. A disco album for the ages, One that has been played out in nightclubs since 1999.
Dave somehow felt that the song 'Prince of darkness' had to be in a 'best of megadeth' CD. Thankfully, This song was not a tribute to the real prince of darkness, Ozzy osbourne. This song has some of the most painful mustaine vocals ever, and has some of the simplest one chord chugga-chugga guitar riffs. Marty friedman was very eager to tap into the nu metal and pop market but you can't blame the guy. Everybody has different tastes and he somehow felt that his work on 'Rust in peace' or any other megadeth album wasn't aggressive enough.
The worst song ever done by a megadeth is 'breadline', Which sounds like a megadeth cover of a bryan adams song or something. Dave mustaine as usual does his trademark talk-singing which can work/not work depending on the situation. He wrote songs like this on 'Cryptic writings' but they had a degree of honesty and conviction in them. This totally feels like an experiment gone wrong. Most of the songs on this album don't even pass as hard rock songs, They're electronic/dance music at best. I've seen glam-metal songs which are a million times lot less cheesier than this one.
'Crush em' is a bearable song and features a very poppy if slightly enjoyable chorus. "Crush....crush.....crush em.....Crush em!". The music video for this still rings in my mind, Megadeth succeeded in making complete fools of themselves. Not to mention the tie-in with the ridiculous movie that was 'Universal soldier'. Next comes my absolute favorite song on this album, "Insomnia", Boy his vocals are so high in the mix, He screams like a frustrated woman. This is where megadeth failed to capitalize. They should've made a different music video for this particular track, Featuring Dave, Marty and the others doing some break dancing around a camp-fire. There is a pure disco-beat section complete with electronic drum beats and a simple over-processed one chord riffs like the ones you find in many nu metal albums.
Megadeth were never meant to be like this, They're better off doing what they do best or atleast doing what they did on 'Youthanasia' or the commercially successful 'Countdown to extinction'. There are 3 remixes on this album for all you dancers and freestyle hip hop guys out there, Dave mustaine personally added three electronic mixes of songs such as 'Insomnia' which are guaranteed to set the dance floor on fire. Then there are songs such as 'Wanderlust' which sound like something done by jon bon jovi in recent years. 'Wanderlust' isn't the worst song on this album but that isn't saying much. As for the drumming, What drumming?. Sepultura's 'roots' album is better than this by a country mile. Atleast max cavalera admitted to be influenced by bands like korn and deftones.
If you're a thrash metal fan, Skip this. If you're a hard rock fan, I wouldn't recommend this one, Try 'Youthanasia' by the same band. If you're a fan of addictive over-processed electronic beats such as the ones found on your favorite micheal jackson cd mixed with some of the most ridiculous guitar riffs ever done, Not to mention the woman-like over-processed vocals of dave mustaine. Get this. You will love it.
For Risk, the title can’t get anymore fitting unless it was a paragraph blatantly explaining the story behind the title and the risks involved. Megadeth’s poppiest songs since Youthanasia appear here, but those were damn good while this one is half and half. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be if you really dig catchy, groovy rock songs, but if you’re expecting any of the early material (or the latest, for that matter), then you best stay away from this one. For the record, this is a hard rock album (expecting heavy metal isn't unfounded, though). I can appreciate some of these songs because they’re catchy, have a groovy rhythm, or contain some great atmosphere and melodies. Marty Friedman’s input I couldn’t give two more shits about, but Dave and David are the ones making it work for the songs that don't bomb. I've always especially loved the bass in Megadeth – so clear, blubbery, booming, and delectable. Ellefson nails the lower end better than the drum bass, which itself is chalky and backed by a polished kit. The production on the album is top-notch, but not digital or very loud; Dave’s vocals are at the very front while everything else clamors right behind him.
The album goes up and down in terms of quality all the damn time. Dave’s vocals aren’t even that big of an issue for me – those nasally, high, not-nearly-speaking lines (which he does a lot of) have a charm that goes along with the album’s meandering tone. To me, I can sing along with them and am easily susceptible to their shit-eating appeal – it’s a guilty pleasure that I can’t help but latch onto. Odd how I can stand Dave’s attempt to be melodic here while almost everything he does on United Abominations makes me want to puke in a cat’s litter box. As far as I’m concerned, even the songs with an ounce of melody in them like “The Doctor Is Calling” and the last three tracks are all horrible incarnations that should have remained locked away in Dave’s born-again drug-waste of a mind. The formula is incredibly simplistic, as are the riffs in most of the songs. There’s hardly any risk-taking aside from dumbing the songs down and making them poppier, but that’s probably what Lars of Metallica was getting at anyway when he used that word on Dave.
Even the songs that fall in-between like “Insomnia,” “Breadline,” and “Enter The Arena / Crush ‘Em” all contain annoying moments that make me cringe in my seat. The album is so polished and every instrument sounds wonderful in tonality and quality, but sometimes Dave gets carried away with singing in a way that his voice really can’t reach. Other moments just sound pompous and pretty stupid in a tough-guy way (“Crush ‘Em” is all over that), but they spoil the song itself rather than the whole album. The riffs for these middle-road songs and the shittier ones are both effortless and memorable, which helps in the long run. Their power makes them ring well, but often you’ll feel like this album heads into country / hard rock territory rather than becoming nu-metal or some alternative metal bullshit.
The songs that really keep this one in my library are “Prince Of Darkness,” the “Wanderlust” / “Ecstasy” duo, and my favorite track on the album, “I’ll Be There.” I’ve never really considered Dave’s vocals to be very good at all, but he really shines on these tracks. “Prince Of Darkness” builds up into a twisted, dark song with an infectious rhythm and a very likable chorus that kills almost everything else on the album. It hits you so early, making you think this album won’t be all that bad. Compared to “I’ll Be There,” “Prince Of Darkness” is nothing – this track, for all Dave’s vocals are worth – is the shining moment of Risk and Mustaine knows it. The tone for this song couldn’t get anymore depressing and haunting – he had a particular audience in mind when writing it, and you can hear him pouring his heart out into it. No matter what I could think of them, I find my getting into the song more than any other during this era of Megadeth – the chorus, the slick leads, and that bouncy drum beat that could cater to just about every dance club in the world. It pisses me off that such a beautiful song is stuck on such a mediocre album, especially with that two-minute outro that has me wailing with Dave. Hell, I’d call it the best song of that era hands down – Megadeth’s best song from 1996-2002. So catchy, fun, and heartbreaking – going above and beyond anything this album can offer.
That song can’t save this entire album, but god damn it stands out. Hard to believe that the skill of Mustaine and Friedman, two more than capable guitarists, had to be wasted on such simple songwriting and dry riffs overall, though. The mood is there (compared to the unexciting Cryptic Writings) and the groove gets you in that mood, but you can’t buy me over with a few good songs and a whole bunch of dead ones. Whether you give into this album’s negative hype or not, there are some songs on here that aren’t all that bad. Go for Megadeth’s other albums, sure, but if there are any risks you should take, it might as well be this one.
Well, well, well...here we go again.
This record is a combination of Dave Mustaine and his legendary insecurity (why he would listen to Lars I don't know) combined with Marty and his need to explore "pop" music. The mythology behind it's creation is a pointless discussion though as the end result was neither good nor earth-shattering to anyone but the ever paranoid metal through that seems to believe that every band bored with it's concept is out to get them.
"Risk" is a risk in terms of Megadeth changing it's sound, but the end product sounds more like an exploration of classic rock ("Breadline" sounds like a throwaway track from the mid-1970's Alice Cooper band) with moment to moment electronic touches and prog-rock goofiness that goes nowhere fast. In comparison to Metallica's much debated "Load", this seems like a goofy jam session by a band with no clue what it is attempting to create, busting out classic rock and frat rock tracks that sound like they were rehearsing in a garage in some remote location over a few cheap domestics.
"Insomnia" provides a few interesting sonic bursts, but the rest of the record comes across with a lazy vibe that neither "rocks" nor "rolls" with it's classic-rock hints. Songs like "Ecstasy" (not much above your typical college-radio hit) or "Crush'em" (horrible pop-wash) would fail to engage a mainstream audience and would gain a reaction of bored eye-rolling that couldn't even bring the metal community to debate it like the aformentioned sister release "Load". Megadeth simply changed, produced a record that will most likely be forgotten instead of being seen a sign of change... I purchased the record for $2.99 in a bin, and this speaks volumes about the records impact.
After this non-event of a record, Dave proclaims a grand return to metal (unlike Metallica - nobody cared enough about this record to "leave" the throng or "hate" them) and went on to release fast, but generally secondary records - a trend that remains to this day.
(Also to note - the lowest point on this release is Mustaine letting out a Hetfield styled "yeah, yeah" on the song "Princes of Darkness" which makes a horrible song even worse for wear.)
...And business is good.
The original plan was to review Megadeth’s albums in chronological order, but I simply had to get this one out of my system. The common misconception about Risk is that even Dave himself hates it, but anyone who knows anything would know that this is false. And I quote from the liner notes of the remastered version of the album: “I still contend this was a great record, but it was not what Megadeth fans expected hear.”
As true as that statement was, this album certainly has it’s handful of diehard fans, one of them being me. “Ah, but he also likes Poison and thinks Pantera were better as a glam band, what does he know?!” Granted, but if you only liked Megadeth for their heavier thrash sound then chances are you gave up on the band long ago anyway so you might as well just stop reading this, now. Go, grab Rust in Peace and thrash your heart out. Now, do it now.
Of course, it’s ludicrous to state that the only reason so many people looked down upon Risk was because they were narrow minded thrashoholics, but there’s no denying that there would have been a lot of people who were like that. After the half arsed snooze fest that was Cryptic Writings and the first line up change in years, I found that the mixed bag that was Risk to be a refreshing change of direction.
And it really is a mixed bag; there’s a bit of metal here and there, bits of hard rock, electronic, prog, stadium rock, alternative...Even a little bit of country!
Things kick off with “Insomnia”, which is probably the most aggressive song on the album...Not that that’s saying much. The song has electronica style electric drums in parts, but the riff sounds like it could have come from Countdown to Extinction. The chorus is really catchy as well.
In fact, pretty much all of the songs on here have very catchy chorus, something Megadeth have been doing on all their albums since 1992. Catchiness is the basis for any pop album, melodic hooks and nothing else. Happily, Risk has more substance than that. “Prince of Darkness” is a great lower paced song with a sinister spoken intro, and again, a highly catchy chorus.
Many people have criticized Risk by calling it a sell-out album, but I’d be quick to disagree. The varying styles on this album are simply too inconsistent to make it an album of radio hits, unlike the Metallica albums of the time. This is much better than Load, and as far as I’m concerned better than anything Metallica have done since 1984.
“Crush ‘em” is awesome. Light, atmospheric intro that builds up to the huge, anthemic chorus. Killer stadium rock. Simple, silly, but great fun and highly memorable. The fact that a song like this is then followed by a song like “Breadline” clearly demonstrates the inconsistency of styles I mentioned before. Instead of being a huge stadium anthem, this is a light melodic rocker with a strong country vibe to it. It’s a very good song, but it’s hard to imagine that it was released by a band called Megadeth, a band whose back catalogue includes songs called “Loved to Deth” and “Wale up Dead”.
The same goes for everything on here really. “The Doctor is Calling” is a bit boring (but still fairly enjoyable), but then we get to the awesome “I’ll Be There”, a sentimental ballad like song that can rival “A Tout le Monde” in terms of beauty. In fact, I actually prefer this to the Youthinasia classic. It also has one of my all-time favourite lyrical quotes; “We stopped dreaming, and started believing”.
This is followed by the songs “Wanderlust” and “Ecstasy”, both late 90s style alternative rockers, with the former having a very light post-grunge(!) sound to it. Closing the album is the two piece song “Time”. The first piece is an atmospheric acoustic affair, which works well as an introduction to the second part, which is great hard rock/heavy metal. A great end to the album.
This is, unless, you have the remaster. This means you have the three bonus tracks, which are different mixes of the songs “Insomnia”, “Breadline” and “Crush ‘Em”. They aren’t anything special really. The first one is an enjoyable listen, but dear God, the “Jock Mix” version of “Crush ‘Em” is shocking! The whole appeal of the song is that it’s anthemic, this mix totally destroys that and make it sounds like a horrible techno song or something...But it's not fair to take away points for bonus tracks.
Anyway, bonus tracks aside, a good album. If you don’t like hard rock or alternative rock, avoid. If you only like heavy metal, avoid. If you thought Megadeth have been going downhill since Countdown, definitely avoid. Otherwise, give it a listen, it’s worth the Risk (pun 110% intended).
If there is one thing that could sum up this troubled and hopefully soon to be forgotten album in Megadeth’s otherwise mostly consistent history, it would be woefully misunderstood, which is what it still is to this day. Usually such a sentiment would imply that the album is underrated, but in this particular case the issue is that its detractors hate it for the wrong reasons, while those who defend it can’t really seem to fully articulate why other than it being under the Megadeth moniker. “Risk” is not a metal album, that much is obvious, but neither is it a hard rock album by any stretch of the imagination.
The term hard rock itself denotes a style of playing that is hard edged, aggressive and mostly guitar oriented. The only respect of this album that really falls into the first of these 3 criterion is Dave Mustaine’s vocals, which are also the strongest thing going on here as well. There is guitar work on here, there are even some impressive solos churned out by Marty Friedman, but there is so much other non-rock stuff going on here that a more appropriate Rock label would be something along the lines of an offshoot of progressive rock with a heavy amount of dance music and blues additives.
Sure, you might be able to dance to some stuff that John “Cougar” Mellencamp and Eric Clapton have put out, but nothing in their repertoire could be qualified as dance music, nor have they ever relied on this absurd amount of odd studio gimmicks employed on here. Right smack at the beginning of “Insomnia” you’re almost wondering if this is an outtake from the “Mortal Kombat” movie soundtrack. Throw on top of this an occasional electronic drum beat section and a really synthetic sounding guitar tone and you’ve got the makings of something heard at a rave party, aka the leading cause of bad PCP trips today.
There are rock riffs on here, and even a couple of songs that could be classified as hard rock, but to label this album anything other than completely confused would be a mistake. Parts of it could be described as really goofy, such as the near 2 minute rant Dave goes on at the beginning of “Price Of Darkness”, an otherwise boring groovy alternative rock song with a guitar sound that is processed sounding enough to make Rammstein blush. There’s also a bastardized U2 meets Bon Jovi snoozer in “I’ll Be There”, but very little that expresses the hardness associated with the label put on this by its defenders.
Naturally there are a scant few songs that come off as inoffensive to someone looking for a rock album. The albums AOR hit single of a song “Breadline” takes all of the non-metal elements of “Cryptic Writings” and compresses them into one catchy, lounge music package. It’s basically a rehash of “Almost Honest” without any iota of attitude, perfect for those rock radio junkies who want their music hypnotic and under 5 minutes long. “Wanderlust” is something of a semi-classic Rock oriented song, mixing a smattering of Aerosmith influences with a big helping of blues trappings and a chorus that sounds a little like that hit song “Cumbersome” from a couple years before this came out.
The ironic thing is that when taken as a whole, this doesn’t come off as a complete commercial effort when taken as a whole, but something more along the lines of a compromise between Mustaine wanting to one up Metallica at their own commercial game and Marty Friedman wanting to experiment. For all of his amazing chops and ingenious songwriting, Friedman is not a thrash metal player at heart. He’s more in line with the progressive rock crowd, as a simple sampling of his solo material will reveal. Combine this with Mustaine being unable to get the Lars Urlich monkey off his back while “The Black Album” , then later “Load” and “Reload” proceed to burn up the charts, the evolution of Megadeth’s sound since after “Rust In Peace” becomes the logical conclusion.
This album is recommended to no one, rock fan or metal fan alike. Absent the almighty guitar riff in all of its blazing glory, there is no metal to be heard, nor any rock to roll to. Pile on top of this a few extremely lame techno remixes of three already bad songs on my 2004 reissue copy; the pointless ante is upped well beyond the point of good taste. If you want to pick it up because you’re a core Megadeth fan like me, be my guest, but do yourself a favor and just hold onto it as a CD shelf adorner and occasional beer coaster. I’ll give Dave and company credit for putting out a worst album that is a cut above the musical abortion otherwise known as “St. Anger”, but that’s not really saying a whole lot.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 11, 2009.
So this isn't thrash or even heavy metal, that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. The people who think non-thrash equals shit need some lessons in logics, because the only thing that can truly ruin an album is the songmaterial, not the genre.
The question is whether there is bad material on this album and my answer is: yes there is, but not a lot of it. The only song which really doesn't do it for me is Insomnia, simply because the lyrics suck and the music is too much off the same riff over and over again.
Now I like other music next to metal, so it really doesn't hurt me there are no snarls or heavy riffs present. The reason why I like Megadeth in the first place is Dave Mustaine's voice and his lyrics, therefore there's nothing which will stop me from liking Wanderlust, I'll Be There For You, Time, Crush 'Em and The Doctor's Calling. Why? Because these are good, honest rock songs with excellent vocals, melodies en solo's. I just can't understand people comparing this album with 'N Sync and Ashley Simpson, because it's way to heavy to sound anything like it. 'Rock' doesn't equal 'soft'. Megadeth never was an all thrash metal act, Megadeth IS Dave Mustaine with his inner demons and political opinions, whether the guy is thrashing out or dancing to Russian folk songs.
Like I said before: apart from Insomnia, there are no bad songs. My personal favorite is Wanderlust, which I rank in my top 10 of best Megadeth songs. Honest rock, good lyrics which remind me of Clint Eastwood cowboy movies and wonderful vocal lines.
If you are openminded enough and liked the softer songs from Cryptic Writings you shouldn't have any problems with this album at all. If you keep whining about the fact it isn't heavy at all, go listen to Slayer (now there's some overrated band) or some corpse grinding black/death act. However, if you are open to quality, 'soft' music, you'll be able to like it well enough.
NOTE: It's hard for me to really review this album. As you read further I'm pretty much going to tear this album apart but that is only about half the truth. In reality, this review is written from the standpoint listening to Risk as a metal album - when really a review should be written from the view of a hard rock album. That is what Risk is. This isn't metal. It's hard rock. And I thoroughly enjoy this album. It's one of the best hard rock albums I have ever listened to. This review is concerned with how Risk fits into the metal world. Thusly...let's begin.
This album really shouldn't have the name Megadeth on it. Yeah, it's all the same players as Megadeth but really - it doesn't even sound like Megadeth. The MD.50 Dave Mustaine side project is more Megadeth than this. One could tell that Dave was burnt out on Megadeth during the writing of this album and wanted to spread his wings a bit. The writing is still quite good - even if it really isn't metal.
The guitar parts for Risk are really watered down. Instead of insanely complicated riffs intermixed with lightning fret solos and leads, Risk is full of acoustic breaks, melodic chords and an occasional metal sounding riff. The solos and melodic lines are well performed, but for the talented guitar players in the band this is really kid material. Nothing all that heavy and when there is a nice riff, it never lasts very long and gets dropped.
The bass work has also been simplified to the point of absurdity. For a metal band, the bass should carry the heavy end of the album so that there is forward motion in the song and album. Not Risk. The bass has a pop tone to it that really is more groove oriented and simple to the point of absurdity.
The drumming really is the highlight of this album with Menza giving some of his best...well most diverse playing yet. His technicality and diversity are some of the best in the genre and even though this album doesn't have him playing at 180 bpm he does an amazing job at his instrument. There is still a little left to be desired with the writing itself, but he plays well for the album.
Dave's voice is still the same really. If you don't enjoy it, you still won't on Risk. And if you do enjoy it he pretty much does the same thing he has before. There are some little differences one may note. There are a few times where he uses distortion on his vocals. Not too often but enough to be noticed. He has tries to use a greater range of singing. From his high shrill notes to spoken word, he hits everything in-between. Nothing to harsh though and his lyrical writing is definitely more personal.
Overall this is an album most metalheads are going to hate. Even I find it hard to justify some of the choices made on this album. If one keeps an open mind to the music and looks at it in more of a hard rock sense then one will enjoy it. Otherwise its better to just stick with older Megadeth material.
Songs to check out: Insomnia, Prince of Darkness, I'll Be There.
It was 2000. I was wandering a Kmart store with money in my pockets to spend on something. Lo and behold, there happened to be a bargain bin full of CDs and in it was Risk. I don't know why, but the cover just appealed to me for some reason. So I bought it for four bucks, went home, listened to it and didn't think it was that bad. That was seven years ago, and my opinion has changed dramatically.
Risk is absolutely the biggest shit pile Megadeth has ever come out with. It's an insult to the Megadeth name. Even Cryptic Pissings seems like God compared to this monstrosity.
Some of the songs have this retarded electronica beat in the background, especially Insomnia. In fact, most of the song sounds like a Middle Eastern rock song or something. Right before the annoying, pop-echo of "Insomnia, nia, nia...” the beat sounds like something used in a shitty rap song.
Crush Em is a typically shitty sports anthem type of song, and has chants of the song's title in between small portions of guitar playing, and distorted pop vocals in the background, but unfortunately has the tendency to stick in your head.
Most of the other songs are like this or have a country thing going on, with two stand out exceptions: Prince of Darkness and (ugh) The Doctor Is Calling. Prince of Darkness is the best and heaviest song on Risk and has some decent guitar work in it, but still sounds like something that should be on a rock album. On the other end of the shitastic spectrum, we have The Doctor Is Calling, the absolute worst piece of shit I have heard come from a metal band. It doesn't even classify itself as metal, or music for that matter; it's just a cacophony of overused pop vocal distortion, poppy guitars and it just doesn't flow nicely at all. It sucks harder than a hooker.
If you're into Megadeth and love the old shit from the 80s and Rust In Peace, then steer clear of this steaming pile of pig shit and stick to the good stuff. But if you're into Ashlee Simpson and 'N SYNC or shit like that, then by all means, buy the damn thing. But if you're caught humming tunes from this record in public, then you're in for a beating. This is the shittiest album from a metal band ever released. I'd rather drown in dog shit than listen to this abomination.
As most of you know, at one time Megadeth was a huge band amongst metal heads. One of the supposed Big 4 of Thrash they were hailed as. The released monumental albums such as Peace Sells…But Who's Buying and Rust in Peace. But then, suddenly the band's ideals changed. In 1992 the band released Countdown to Extinction. It went double platinum and hit #2 in the US charts. With the music chart's singing its siren song, main man Dave Mustaine vowed to hit coveted #1 spot. No matter what the cost…As result, the thrashy edge that was found on Rust in Peace and its predeccessors began to disappear. By 1999's Risk, it had disappeared entirely. And the band had not achieved a #1 spot in the charts. Whoops. Rather than rolling around in the prestige they had anticipated, Megadeth instead had only succeeded in alienating their fans and forgetting their roots, where they came from. Going by what fans will tell you, sales, what Mustaine will tell you, or what nearly anybody else would tell you, Risk is most definitely an awful, awful album. Easily a 1 right?
Well, not quite…
Sure, the band had pretty much abandoned metal in every way, shape, and form. Even more so than the legendary Metallica. There are no technical riffs to be found. There is no shredding. The heaviest song on the album, Prince of Darkness, would have been labelled as a ballad if it appeared on Rust in Peace or Peace Sells. So why rate Risk as a metal album? Why compare it to past Megadeth albums? Way back when I first heard this, like many, I detested it and the path that Megadeth had taken. But that was awhile ago, and since then I've softened up, and given other genres of rock music a chance. Unsurprisingly, when I came back to this album, I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than I did before. Since then, I've come to the realization that Risk is a great album. Not the band's best of course, but still great.
Risk will appeal more to the fans of modern rock than that of metal. The music is a lot mellower than anything the band has done, past or present. With that said, the album starts off with a harder edge. The first 4 tracks include some of the album's roughest, fastest moments. Crush Em in particular is one of the album's best songs. I seem to be alone on this when I say that Crush Em is a superb song. The chorus, the lyrics, the riffs, everything stands out. Then again, that could be just a personal bias, as Crush Em was my first Megadeth song. Anyways, after three heavy hitters; Insomnia, Prince of Darkness, and Crush Em, the album moves into a more accessible, mellow section. It is here that songs such as I'll Be There for You, Wanderlust, and Ecstasy prove to be standout tracks. Despite being softer cuts, they are very energetic and they are part of the reason why they are so memorable. Another element that contributes to the excellence of these songs is the emotion that they show. Though it is pretty cheesy, (especially the cringe worthy spoken part in the middle, meh), the song I'll Be There for You drips with emotional lyrics and inspiring, happy sounding vocals and riffs. Provided that you give it the chance, the song will get you into a good mood. This is where Risk truly shines; with simple, laidback tracks such as this.
As the band is no longer focused on pumping out intense riff after intense riff, solo after solo, Megadeth was forced to look for something new to spearhead their music. The band turned to Dave's singing. Though the vocals are a love it or hate it affair, I must say, I really enjoyed them here. With more vocal responsibilities, Mustaine not only doesn't cave in under pressure, he delivers. With the singing in the forefront, songs such I'll Be There for You or Crush Em are suddenly much more interesting. Particularly during the choruses is when the vocals stand out the most. If you dislike the vocals on other Megadeth albums, Risk won't do anything to change your opinion. For those who do enjoy Dave's singing, Risk will be a treat to listen to, as it is often the centrepiece of the song.
Risk is a very big departure from Megadeth's familiar sound. Even the band themselves realized this, as they attempted to return to a more metal influenced sound on their next album. For this reason, Risk drew bad reviews from, well, everybody. Everyone's got their own opinion on the record, but if you're asking me, I'd respond by telling you to keep an open mind while listening. Don't expect it to cater to your thrash metal needs, as it contains very little, if any elements from their days as a state of the art metal band. Rather, the album is a very good modern rock album, which definitely appeals more to the casual rock fan. Not the band's finest album, but not terrible either.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
A risk is defined as a colossal change or gamble that may lead to great fortune or disastrous results. If there's one band that adopts this definition the most, it's gotta be Megadeth. Back in the 1990's, Megadeth became a daring band by changing their musical style and by making metal that appealed to both the mainstream and metalheads, yet everything seemed to be okay until the band decided to ditch metal and play modern rock. Back in 1999, Dave Mustaine was willing to gamble Megadeth's credibility in exchange for mainstream success, and it turned out to be a fatal error. In a band that always seemed to have luck on their side, Megadeth took a chance with "Risk" and they ended up on the losing end of their own bargain.
The overall consensus of this record is that alternative rock has taken over Megadeth. Everything that was once metal has been flushed away into darkness and Megadeth switched over to the alternative mainstream, and it really sucks. The tracks are simple and soft, there is hardly any riff changes, and all the songs have repetitive choruses and modern guitar tones. The songs are so catchy and poppy that it almost drove me insane. I can't emphasis of how many times these horrible choruses are repeated! The simplistic "Crush 'Em" is probably the worst track from this standpoint and it could easily appeal to any mallcore kid because of the chorus that repeats for three fourths of the song; it's almost like the entire track is the fucking chorus! "The Doctor Is Calling" is hardly bearable because Dave doesn't stop singing the chorus. Most of the other songs fall under this category of being way too poppy and repetitive.
It was pretty easy to tell that Megadeth was drifting away from metal on "Cryptic Writings," but at least that had some good Megadeth, vocals and solos, but all of these are gone on "Risk." The guitars are tuned in a way in which they sound identical to an alternative rock band. There is nothing enjoyable about the riffs, it's all just repetitive radio friendly rock that mainstream kiddies would blow their loads to. One of the most disappointing attributes of this album is the solo effort. Even though "Risk" has guitar legends like Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, the solos are plain and unsophisticated. The solo on "Insomnia" has Friedman sluggishly playing a few notes and then simply stopping; none of the solos are epic or awesome like the leads on "Tornado Of Souls" or "Holy Wars," they instead sound simple and heartless.
Out of all twelve tracks on "Risk," only two stand out from this pile of fecal matter. "Prince Of Darkness" is the only track from this album that sounds remotely metal. It has a nice heavy riff and Mustaine's vocals make it sound somewhat evil, yet it's just okay at best. I'm not sure why, but I find "I'll Be There" to be one of the album's better songs. It has mellow bass lines and a catchy chorus, yet it sounds somewhat different from the rest of the tracks. With that being said, all the other songs are poor pieces of garbage that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
It seemed that hell froze over during this time. The band that was known for making classic thrash albums like "Rust In Piece" and "Peace Sells...But Whose Buying?" had finally dissolved into a shitty mainstream band. Even from a sellout standpoint, "Risk" back fired and it bit Megadeth right in the ass. Not only did Megadeth fans hate it, the sales they aimed so high for just plopped right down in front of them and the LP ended up being a flop. Hell, doesn't even do any of these songs live (you might hear "Prince Of Darkness" if you're lucky, but even that's pushing it). "Risk" fits right in with "Load" and "Roots" as one of the most disliked and scorned records of our time. Add this one to the shit list; this album sucks.
This review was written for: http://www.Thrashpit.com
As a big Megadeth fan, I still ponder as to what Dave Mustaine was thinking creating Risk, which has as much in common with alternative music as it does heavy metal. Gone are even the slight traces of heavy metal that were present between Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings. The music is more simplified than ever, mainly because this is the first Megadeth album that contains average guitar riffage. Let me also state I have no objection to rock music, just that Dave Mustaine must have released this album either under pressure to appease the softer musical tastes of Marty Friedman or just to create music with a partial Megadeth sound that can appeal to the current trends in the music industry. Either way I say rather confidently that Megadeth is not the greatest at writing this style of music.
Prince of Darkness turns into a decent track with a somewhat enjoyable metal riff 4:40 into the song with a trademark metal solo after putting up with Mustaine's attempt at turning Megadeth into bland rock music. Enter The Arena is basically an intro for the more popular hit Crush Em and has an OK riff(which is pretty mediocre in my books). The chorus is quite catchy but it has the same problem as pretty well all the songs of this album. Lack of even decent guitar riffage. I'm not sure if its because the lack of incredible guitarwork I'm accustomed to but it also seems that there is not nearly enough lead guitar throughout this album. Breadline follows the clean verse, distorted alternative chorus which they have done much, much better on previous albums. The Doctor is Calling starts with a clean guitar reminscent of ONE(what the heck Dave?) with a weird effect and turns into a slow/midpace hard rock number where he doesn't seem to shut up about hearing the Doctor Calling. A notable solo that kicks ass but its too little too late at this point to revive the once metal juggernaut known as Megadeth.
At this point I'm just too drained and discouraged to go through the rest of the songs. If you are interested in an album where Mustaine's vocals and lyrics are front in the center as opposed to his incredible guitar prowess from previous albums, then this album could very well be for you. Even the songs on The System has Failed with Risk influence are more interesting than this. If you are a true Megadeth fan you own this regardless of its disappointment. I would recommend avoiding this album entirely if you have no interest in rock music whatsoever. Even for a catchy rock album I still find this only passable.
Ups - A very nice combination of rock and electronica.
Downs - Where's Megadeth?
Alright, on one hand, I'm a hardcore fan of Megadeth, especially their old stuff. I got this album without having heard anything about it, or even having heard of it, this being long ago when I was first getting into Megadeth. I simply saw it at the store, said "ooh, Megadeth!" (or something to that effect) and shelled out my fifteen bucks. Got home, popped it into my CD player, and was soon mourning the loss of my fifteen bucks, which could have been better spent completing my Pink Floyd collection. I listened to it a few more times, but shelved it more or less permanently by the end of the week.
Now, fast forward two years or so. After being introduced to the DDR machine at the local arcade, I am beginning to take an interest in electronica. But wait - where am I to find such music? They do not appear to sell these artists' work at any of the local music stores! Alas! And other such cheesy exclamations! When somehow - I honestly don't remember exactly how - I got the idea of listening to Risk again... and this time without skipping straight to Time: The End. And I must admit - my first impression of it was flawed. This is not a bad album. It is simply not a Megadeth album, which is what I had been hoping for.
Now I realize that Insomnia is an extremely heavy song, despite the fact that the synths completely drown out the guitars. Prince of Darkness is definitely not the best song on there but not the worst, either... though it completely deviates from the electronic theme. Enter the Arena still sucks in my eyes, since a snippet of a live recording doesn't really qualify as a song. Crush 'Em - how do I put this eloquently - blows. I'm sorry, but it just blows completely. Breadline is a pretty good song, though it hardly sounds like Megadeth. The Doctor is Calling is also good, though it seems a bit too long. I'll Be There sounds like it should have been in the trailer for a shameless "chick flick" instead of on a Megadeth album, of all things. Wanderlust is good, especially since it's about Clint Eastwood, and that's good for a few bonus points. Ecstasy... well, it's interesting, but the idea of a girl who dreams about sleeping with Dave Mustaine hardly seems like good song fodder. I'm not sure how I feel about Seven, on one hand it's one of the few songs with riffs, on the other the lyrics suck beyond belief. The Time songs are definitely the high point, my opinion hasn't changed on that. Time: The Beginning is wicked as purely acoustic songs go, and I must have spent more time listening to Time: The End than the rest of the album combined the first time around, and I've played it quite a few times since I started to Risk listening again.
All in all...
If you want pure Speed Metal, don't bother. The only Speed Metal song on here is Time: The End, and cool as it is, it's not worth buying the whole album just for this song, since you'll probably hate the rest of it.
If you like hard, non-metal rock and/or electronica, GET THIS ALBUM NOW. You will not regret it.
If you are a big fan of Heavy Metal and also like electronica, find Astral Techno Metal on mp3.com once it's working again, as they do a much better job of mixing the two. But in the meantime, buy this album.