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Rust's Sister Album - 89%

Metal_Guderian, July 11th, 2018

This album is sometimes tagged as mustaine's answer to metallica's Black Album, or somehow trying to emulate it, which is a bit of a misinterpretation as I reckon that much of the material was in the works before that album was released. Also, other bands such a Anthrax, Slayer, Kreator and Overkill, had delivered some less brutal, yet pretty good albums around that time, so the brutalness of '80s thrash was definitely changing before Metallica released their dull down tempo work, and the grunge explosion was probably more influential; that's how it felt at the time, and on reflection, perhaps that's still the case.

Let's get this one out of the way–it's not as good as its predecessor from the stand point of having a plethora of lethal and technical riffing, along with crazy changing time signitures. Where this album might superceed its predecessor is that it's more melodic, thus making it a little more accessible, and, the lyrical content is more mature and thoughtful. The song structures use standard verse/chorus patterns, with the exception of "Sweating Bullets" and "Ashes in Your Mouth", which do shift around, and the latter wouldn't sound out of place on Rust in Peace. The title song, which is almost ballad like, might not work as a stable for live sets, but it has a good lyrical theme to convey, as does the mid-tempo "Foreclosure of a Dream".

This is an album not without its speed/thrash metal leanings though, with the more reined in opener, "Skin o' My Teeth" delivering some classic early '80s style thrashing, along with the groovier thrasher "High Speed Dirt" in the middle of the album, and the excellent "Ashes in Your Mouth" as the finale, so the tracks are well laid out, making for a well balanced album. And, what enhances everything is the precision of the riffing, the tone of the guitars, the audible bass, excellent drum work, and the lyrical content. As for solos, Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman don't shred like they did on "Hangar 18" or "Holy Wars…The Punishment Due" from Rust in Peace, however, they do have some excellent moments throughout.

There's only one issue I have with this album which is the spoken word part on "Captive Honour"; spoken word parts have their merits and it was perfectly added as a short middle break to "Holy Wars…The Punishment Due", and even to the opening part of "Dread and the Fugitive Mind" from 2001's The World Needs a Hero. Here though, the first half of the song is a corny spoken word passage and better use should have been made of the material–and, it wasn't the last time we'd hear Mustaine do long drawn out dispensible spoken word parts, which generally don't work i.e. "Prince of Darkness" or "Recipe For Hate" from Risk and a bad example from The World Needs a Hero, respectively.

As for the vocals, I guess in some respects Mustaine's are like Marmite to folk-you either like them or hate them, and even if you hate them, there's usually enough going on musically, especially on the previous albums, to create enough distractions. Where this album has less going on musically than say Rust in Peace, there is more reliance on Mustaine's vocals, and he actually does deliver a very catchy and melodic style, and his pitch is well suited to the light-tone. Mustaine's style also makes the album more accessible, and this aspect, as well as some of the others previously mentioned, don't diminish the identity of the band. This album is still heavy and retains enough of the bands thrash roots to make it a good follow-up to its crazier sister album.