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Risking is my business... - 93%

The_Blacksmith, March 16th, 2009

...And business is good.

The original plan was to review Megadeth’s albums in chronological order, but I simply had to get this one out of my system. The common misconception about Risk is that even Dave himself hates it, but anyone who knows anything would know that this is false. And I quote from the liner notes of the remastered version of the album: “I still contend this was a great record, but it was not what Megadeth fans expected hear.”

As true as that statement was, this album certainly has it’s handful of diehard fans, one of them being me. “Ah, but he also likes Poison and thinks Pantera were better as a glam band, what does he know?!” Granted, but if you only liked Megadeth for their heavier thrash sound then chances are you gave up on the band long ago anyway so you might as well just stop reading this, now. Go, grab Rust in Peace and thrash your heart out. Now, do it now.

Of course, it’s ludicrous to state that the only reason so many people looked down upon Risk was because they were narrow minded thrashoholics, but there’s no denying that there would have been a lot of people who were like that. After the half arsed snooze fest that was Cryptic Writings and the first line up change in years, I found that the mixed bag that was Risk to be a refreshing change of direction.

And it really is a mixed bag; there’s a bit of metal here and there, bits of hard rock, electronic, prog, stadium rock, alternative...Even a little bit of country!

Things kick off with “Insomnia”, which is probably the most aggressive song on the album...Not that that’s saying much. The song has electronica style electric drums in parts, but the riff sounds like it could have come from Countdown to Extinction. The chorus is really catchy as well.

In fact, pretty much all of the songs on here have very catchy chorus, something Megadeth have been doing on all their albums since 1992. Catchiness is the basis for any pop album, melodic hooks and nothing else. Happily, Risk has more substance than that. “Prince of Darkness” is a great lower paced song with a sinister spoken intro, and again, a highly catchy chorus.

Many people have criticized Risk by calling it a sell-out album, but I’d be quick to disagree. The varying styles on this album are simply too inconsistent to make it an album of radio hits, unlike the Metallica albums of the time. This is much better than Load, and as far as I’m concerned better than anything Metallica have done since 1984.

“Crush ‘em” is awesome. Light, atmospheric intro that builds up to the huge, anthemic chorus. Killer stadium rock. Simple, silly, but great fun and highly memorable. The fact that a song like this is then followed by a song like “Breadline” clearly demonstrates the inconsistency of styles I mentioned before. Instead of being a huge stadium anthem, this is a light melodic rocker with a strong country vibe to it. It’s a very good song, but it’s hard to imagine that it was released by a band called Megadeth, a band whose back catalogue includes songs called “Loved to Deth” and “Wale up Dead”.

The same goes for everything on here really. “The Doctor is Calling” is a bit boring (but still fairly enjoyable), but then we get to the awesome “I’ll Be There”, a sentimental ballad like song that can rival “A Tout le Monde” in terms of beauty. In fact, I actually prefer this to the Youthinasia classic. It also has one of my all-time favourite lyrical quotes; “We stopped dreaming, and started believing”.

This is followed by the songs “Wanderlust” and “Ecstasy”, both late 90s style alternative rockers, with the former having a very light post-grunge(!) sound to it. Closing the album is the two piece song “Time”. The first piece is an atmospheric acoustic affair, which works well as an introduction to the second part, which is great hard rock/heavy metal. A great end to the album.

This is, unless, you have the remaster. This means you have the three bonus tracks, which are different mixes of the songs “Insomnia”, “Breadline” and “Crush ‘Em”. They aren’t anything special really. The first one is an enjoyable listen, but dear God, the “Jock Mix” version of “Crush ‘Em” is shocking! The whole appeal of the song is that it’s anthemic, this mix totally destroys that and make it sounds like a horrible techno song or something...But it's not fair to take away points for bonus tracks.

Anyway, bonus tracks aside, a good album. If you don’t like hard rock or alternative rock, avoid. If you only like heavy metal, avoid. If you thought Megadeth have been going downhill since Countdown, definitely avoid. Otherwise, give it a listen, it’s worth the Risk (pun 110% intended).