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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.