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Stay Frosty - 77%

SweetLeaf95, July 10th, 2018

Oh boy, the great divide is finally here! Risk is the Megadeth album I've most anticipated hitting, and as if it's really any kind of surprise, I actually dig this record. It's got a bad rep, and lord knows it's anything but a thrash record, but one dimensional is the last phrase that I would use to describe this. What it boils down to is an industrial rock album, that also extracts the pop rock elements of Cryptic Writings, and blends them in as a garnish. It's not, I repeat, not a "pop rock" record as a whole (more on that later), it just so happens to be the "poppiest" one I guess. Looking at the time it dropped, this shouldn't have surprised anyone. Only a year earlier, Marilyn Manson dropped Mechanical Animals, and Rob Zombie dropped Hellbilly Deluxe, two industrial rock discs that received extraordinary praise. So truthfully, I can understand why Mustaine and co. took this route. Sadly, the fans didn't seem to be on the same page, which is understandable. Much like the named Van Halen track, that was a hidden gem in their newest effort, many just dispose of it. This collection of songs is regarded in a similar manner, as it's gonna have a harder time appealing to a thrash audience.

Before getting too deep into the pool of electronics and echoed atmosphere, the air needs cleared on what Risk is not. As mentioned, there are poppy songs. "Ecstasy" uses very clean guitars and has a very warm feeling, and comes off friendlier than normal. "Breadline" is a more common one, my personal favorite, that takes a similar approach, yet also maintains a bite of crunch to the guitars. This is all well and good, but it is NOT a straight up pop rock record. Does this sound like Blink-182? Does it sound like Fall Out Boy? How about The 1975? Didn't think so, and if anyone says it does, then they need their head examined. Also, the fact that some people call this country? What the hell?! There's no twang, little acoustics, nothing redneck, or anything remotely country about it. Maybe, if we really really stretch it, "Wanderlust" has an ever so slight micro country feel to it, but that's not nearly enough to justify this. So the labels that get slapped on Risk clearly need re-examined, and may be part of why it gets all the hate it gets. No, these poppy moments are dropped here and there, definitely more than before, but to call it "pop rock" or "country" couldn't be any more wrong.

All of these glittery moments and jibber jabber aside, the majority of this is composed of hard rock songs with metal riffs that strip away the heavy bottom for a lot of them. Atop of that are sound effects and electronic tones that give this a robotic identity. This is evident immediately with "Insomnia", the way that the electronic string like waves echo throughout the song. No denying that that riff is heavy as fuck too! Vocally, the same energy is given off, especially in the chorus with the echoing atmosphere. Others such as "Crush 'Em" and "The Doctor Is Calling" follow this template, making for very dance-like jams. The famous "Prince Of Darkness" uses a lot of spoken word, layered harmonics, and a very dirty surface in riff-work. If non of this screams "industrial", then I don't really know what does.

All of this in mind, there are definitely some forgettable moments on here. Songs like "Seven" and "Wanderlust" drag on and provide the bare minimum means as far as redeemable qualities. The album in general could be trimmed a few tracks, and I'll also admit that it's somewhat inconsistent with its output. However, this doesn't bother me that much, as it provides something interesting, and basically contradicts the "bland and one dimensional" argument that others use. At the end of the day though, this is a solid industrial rock album that still has traces of metal and some pop rock inspired songs here and there. Certainly not a release for everyone, but bearing everything that I mentioned in mind, I think some could grow to appreciate it.