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It's no secret that this album was a weak attempt by Megadeth. For starters, nearly half of the album consists of old, rehashed material from Megadeth's earliest days gigging in small clubs. Of course, I'm talking about songs like: Into the Lungs of Hell, Hook in Mouth, Mary Jane, and Set the World Afire. If the fact that Dave Mustaine (A regular song writing machine) used so many tracks that originally didn't make the cut on their previous albums doesn't tell you that he was burnt out from drugs and touring, a few of the songs that he did write for the album should. I've always thought of a studio album as being an outlet for the best material that a band can manage to write and perform. With that said, the majority of the track "502" is made up of one of the worst choruses of all time, a few foolish samples, and a drum solo (If you can even call it that) that honestly leaves me confused. Now that I think of it, picking apart the song "502" isn't at all necessary because the lyrics to the song are posted on this site. With that in mind, all that really needs to be said now is that those same lyrics speak for themselves. The track "Liar" is another mystery to me. This is the kind of song that a band puts on a demo. ...And even then the song would only be included because of the severe lack of better ones. For someone considered to be as socially aware and quick witted as Dave Mustaine was thought to be around this time period, I'm surprised that he even had the nerve to put this song in. To begin with, I'm not very wild about using space on an album simply to make fun of a former band member for stealing equipment. It's just not in good taste in my opinion. Yes, it's arguable that Dave Mustaine and his larger than life "Take no Shit!" attitude could (And possibly still can) cleanly pull of a song of that nature. But the lyrics that he wrote for this song certainly don't do him and his attitude any justice. Most of these lyrics are the kind of things that people scream out of car windows at each other on a freeway. The only difference from this and screaming out a window is that when Dave Mustaine sings his version, it's much harder to understand. As long as I'm on the topic of uninspired music, I might as well say a thing or two about Megadeth's cover of "Anarchy in the UK. To begin with, none of the members of the band even wanted to cover this song. So far with the theme of this album, obvious lack of caring on yet another track doesn't do any good to anyone. I'll be honest when i say that I've never liked this song. But for what Megadeth (The two Dave's in this instance) are capable of doing in that "rebellion" sound of metal, they obviously decided to sit this one out. When I listen to this song, I don't hear a hint of anyone screaming for justice or trying to break free from the cycles of society. Especially not in the fashion that Megadeth showed the world on the album Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? What I'm hearing is four musicians going through the motions on the music and vocals of the original song, and adding in new components that really can't even dent the bland performance that has already set the tone. On top of all that, they decided to get an original member of the Sex Pistols to sing backup vocals. My views on covers songs probably shouldn't be discussed here, but why the hell would you want to make this song sound more like the original? Especially the vocal aspect of it. Vocals are one of the great things that Dave Mustaine has always been able to alter however he wants, making the song more meaningful and more of an interesting cover.
Another of the many flaws that plague this album is the lack of musical chemistry between the band members. I'm not at all opposed to musicians bringing their own (or finding a new) unique sound to the table and spreading all around in the music. It usually makes things more interesting and has proven to work very well in a lot of metal bands. However, this generally safe approach doesn't work very well on this album. My best guess as to why this is, is that a constant sound never really surfaces. By constant sound, I mean one general and basic sound that can be played on alot with no real surprise. What's nice about this constant sound or familiar atmosphere is that the band can introduce it, abandon it to venture off into other different sounds to explore with, and then easily jump right back into that base of sound that was already established. (The band Death does used that concept very well on a few of their albums) The lack of chemistry probably wouldn't be such a problem if Jeff Young didn't have such an odd guitar style. Whenever he plays a solo on the album, it seems that when he finishes the band has gone off into new territory making it feel like an awkward jump has just been made; Like Young's solos act as a bridge of some sort. If that was the case, he did a pretty bad job of preparing and composing those solos in my opinion. It's hard to judge Dave Mustaine on his riff and solo composition since such a large portion of them were created years before this album came out. (I'm assuming that he had progressed skill wise in those years) The ones that he did write seem to suite the general feel of the song pretty well. Nothing special, but nothing horrible. David Ellefson really doesn't have much presence at all on this album. It's hard to say if that's a good or bad thing. But for the sake of what it sounds like already with two guitarists on completely different pages, I'm going to guess that it's not an issue. An interesting subject that comes up on this album is Chuck Behler, the drummer. I constantly read about people complaining that he underplayed, and is largely responsible for the messy sound of the album. Brace yourself, but I think his drumming is one of the few logical and musically fitting aspects of this album. If he would have tried to break out and make any kind of a presence felt for a noticeable part of the album, the entire thing would have completely crashed and burned in my opinion. Percussion is the backbone of any metal band. If he would have strayed off and played anything other than the basic sturdy beats that he chose, it would have been under thought music played in a chaotic manner. Morbid Angel has showed the world several times what that sounds like.
For all the bitching that I just did, anyone reading this is probably wondering why I didn't give the album an awful rating percentage. Through all the shit and disappointment, there are some things that I like about this album. The album has almost no unity, but if you take it song by song, each one isn't really terrible and can actually work well with listening to compliment a specific mood. And sure, Dave Mustaine chose to use some older tracks. It's noticeable that these tracks are old and a little out of date for what was accomplished on the previous two albums. But I've grown to accept that. It's kind of nice to hear another round of the semi-raw thrash with Dave Mustaine's twist. This music doesn't really have that pre-warn-new aggressive sound that the first two albums had, but the simplistic and fun nature of the music is still there. I had to look pretty deep past the obvious flaws of this album to find that music that I love. This is one of those albums that really can only be enjoyed to its fullest by a Megadeth fan that knows the band's catalogue in and out. Knowing what they were probably capable of isn't a nice thought, but this is what they turned out and I guess it's OK.