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Megadeth's luck is hit or miss here. - 78%

hells_unicorn, February 21st, 2012

The Mustaine train has been rolling on a steady uptrend since the collapse of musical credibility that was “Risk”, producing a string of albums that have been increasingly more consistent and ultimately, more political. While Megadeth has always been a socially aware institution with its roots firmly in the mentality of the punk scene, the politics of the lyrics have been on a fairly steady evolution in response to the goings on of the time. The peak of this upward movement towards former glory seems to have peaked with the release of “Endgame”, as the latest incarnation of the band sees a return of longtime band mate Dave Ellefson, but also a few steps back in the musical department.

“Th1rt3en” saw the usual string of promotional singles before the main course was unleashed upon the masses, and it was in these appetizers that somewhat deceptive picture of how this album would turn out was established. The lead off song “Sudden Death” was the first single, and it presents this album at its most aggressive, which turns out to be a somewhat modern sounding half-thrash song with a slight hint of pre-thrash heavy metal that somewhat resembles a faster song on a 90s Overkill release. The song is heavily sugared up with solos to the point of being pretentious, which was a staple of “United Abominations” and seems to have been one of the dominant influences on the shape of this overall album. This somewhat overblown song was followed up with “Never Dead” which ventures the closest to the thrashing glory of “Endgame” with a thudding mixture of riffs and angry growls, and a more radio friendly yet still rocking mid-tempo rocker in “Public Enemy No. 1”.

Sadly enough, these 3 promotional songs prove to be almost the full extent of this album’s glory moments. Coming in behind them is a mishmash of earlier influences, essentially retracing much of Mustaine’s various songwriting eras from 1992 to 2007, and what sounds like a systematic of anything resembling his greater moments from earlier or on the last album. The best parts come in with a couple of asides into Dave’s politics in “New World Order” and “We The People”, which hearken back to the “Youthanasia” days the most with a slower feel and a much more formulaic structure that borderlines on radio rock. The most intense moments of these songs are generally found during the lead breaks, as catchiness is the implicit goal of these songs, and in this respect they are a success.

The bulk of the remaining contents on this album generally go for the 90s Megadeth sound, sometimes resembling “Countdown To Extinction”, at others going for the non-thrash metal yet still reasonably good album that followed it. There’s a handful of songs here that are pretty catchy, particularly “Millennium Of The Blind” which brings in the ballad element a bit yet manages to remain fairly heavy and aggressive, and even brings in a bit of a sing along factor. With the exception of the closing flop of a title song “13”, which reminds of the more limp-wristed balladry heard on select songs of “The World Needs A Hero”, nothing on here comes off as being overtly awful, but it definitely wants for more energy, especially compared to the last couple of albums.

As best as can be articulated; this album should have been released between “The System Has Failed” and “United Abominations”. It is possible to present a better album while using a past template as a guide for molding together songs, as was proven on the last album, but here it just doesn’t quite hit the mark and gets bogged down in too many similar sounding ideas. This approach to songwriting works when the tempo is faster and the songs tend to be either shorter or done in a more artful fashion, but neither of those things really materializes on here. This is not an essential purchase for those outside the Megadeth club, and core fans are encouraged to seek this album second hand or maybe just cherry pick the mp3s of the better songs.