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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.