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Risky Business... and Business is Kinda Slow! - 52%

Superchard, March 30th, 2018

A risk indeed. After taking some advice from Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Dave Mustaine decided to change pace with 1999's aptly titled "Risk". Gone was any shred of thrash; or even heavy metal for that matter and instead fans received a much more pop influenced Mustaine. For some Megadeth fans this change of pace will be a breath of fresh air and to others it will be a rude awakening. Regardless, Megadeth had gradually been losing their bite throughout the 90's and by the end of the decade, it seemed that Mustaine and crew had grown bored with the sound they had become known for and seemingly wanted to distance themselves from what Megadeth had always done best.

With Nick Menza leaving the band presumably to start his solo career, Mustaine recruited Jimmy Degrasso, who up until this point had only been behind the drums for Mustaine's side project MD.45. While Jimmy does a boring and predictable performance on Risk, he's not to blame, it's the direction of the songwriting in general. Take for example "Breadline" which sounds more like something you'd expect from a cheesy 70's progressive rock band such as Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", and is by far the worst song on the album. Wanderlust follows suite and delivers a blatant paraphrase of Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive". Alas, Mustaine himself has traded in his signature snarl and attitude for a commercial sound, and while there's nothing wrong with that, much of "Risk" fails to be anything other than vapid arena rock. There's no noteworthy guitar solos on the entire album, or even any rhythm guitar riffs that'll inspire you to pick up a guitar for yourself.

Needless to say, Megadeth have changed; and with that, alienated their fanbase while not attracting much of a new crowd, unlike their contemporaries in Metallica. That's kind of a shame though because Risk is not all bad. In fact, it's a better outing than when Metallica released their pop rock albums "Load" and "Reload". The opening track "Insomnia" greets the listener with violin and sitar samples which lead into an upbeat pop rock song, and upbeat is really the word that would sum up this entire album. It just sounds way too happy, there's not a single song you'd be able to bang your head to, nothing cathartic to make you feel... much of anything really. The entire album lacks emotion and drive and even Mustaine sounds particularly bored delivering his vocals on "Crush 'Em", the albums single!

I wonder how much of Risk's new sound was inspired by Dave's newfound outlook on Christianity. Although he didn't announce his conversion to Christianity until a few years after Risk's release, songs like "I'll be There for You" and "Ecstasy" have this uplifiting Christian rock sound to them. The description alone will be enough to turn most metal heads away, but I'd say they are some of the stronger songs on the album. They're contrasted with the somber album's closer "Time" which is split up into two parts. It starts off as an acoustic piece that soon turns into a pop metal tune and becomes a noisy mess until the closing of the album.

Overall, Risk is a mixed bag of mostly uninspired catchy radio rock and hints at a Megadeth that wanted to branch out, or perhaps Mustaine simply wanted to beat Metallica at their own game and show that he could one up them and do commercial rock better. Either way, Risk was an album that hurt Megadeth in the long run. Some fans will see Risk as such a betrayal that they will never find interest in listening to Megadeth ever again. Combine that with tours Mustaine canceled with Rotting Christ and Dissection simply because of his newfound faith, only serving to further distance himself from the fans who admired his music to begin with, it's not hard to see that Mustaine was shooting himself in the foot.

Superchard gets super hard for:
Time: The Beginning
Time: The End