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If only this were the last nail in the coffin... - 5%

Wraith, June 14th, 2007

I’ve never felt like such a sucker as I did when I finished my first listen to this record. Can I get my $9.99 back? In my youthful naivete, I would never have imagined that a decade later my favorite band (a word I use loosely at this point) would sink so low. Put simply, this would be awful even by the low standards of a second tier thrash act. The only reason I haven’t given it a 0% is the fact that many would regard that as mere hyperbole, when in truth I don’t believe it deserves anything more.

I’ll get the few positives out of the way before I go into what will likely be a poorly organized (due to my extreme irritation) rant on how much everything else sucks:
- There are a few (and I stress "few") noteworthy riffs that remind one of what Mustaine was once capable of.
- When he isn't ripping off his own pull-off patterns from 1986, Mustaine's lead phrasing is, as always, interesting.
- Glen Drover, while not a tenth as intriguing as Poland/Friedman, can play.

Nothing else is positive: you know your record is a piece of shit when a song from a prior record is rerecorded in inferior form and is still by far the best track. 80-90% of the riffs here are, even when pleasing to the ear of a non-discerning fan, not remotely inventive (and in some cases totally inappropriate: see Burnt Ice), and there's nothing to listen to drum-wise. The real issue, though, is Mustaine. At this point, there are three possibilities:
1) The first four records were happy accidents and everything from Countdown to Extinction through Risk involved substantial help from bandmates/producers with the lyrics, vocal melodies, and arrangements;
2) the lyrics, etc. have simply fallen off due to the man's disinterest in the subject matter he's now forcing (as proven by the fact that Never Walk Alone, while not a good song, is probably the least offensive track here lyrically, and is not coincidentally the only one to touch on post-CTE subject matter);
3) he can only write when high on something.

I suspect we're dealing with a combination of all three, and fuck is it depressing. Post CTE/Youthania, I'd have called (and did call) Mustaine one of metal's top five or so lyricists. He doesn't even register now, clocking in even lower than the most derivative death metal acts, who at least know their limitations. The second reason above is the one that most grates on me: I believe Mustaine loves the fan adoration he gets when playing metal, but I do not believe for a moment that he personally enjoys most of the shit he's produced since Risk. Face it people: the man wants to write pop/rock songs, and if his fans would let him get away with it, he’d be doing just that.

Anyway, the vocal melodies are even worse than the lyrics themselves, and are awkward beyond belief. The number one culprit here is the title track, over which I nearly retched. Where were the producers here? Everything about this is amateurish. It's amazing how A Tout le Monde, a song I don't even particularly care for, stands out so much due to the sole fact that the vocal lines actually fit the meter, etc. Vocally his voice is strong, but there's nary a hint of the promise he showed on Risk as far as his range (in all senses).

Finally, the arrangements are, to repeat this term, amateurish, with inappropriate solos laid down constantly in places they have no business being, like an afterthought. There is barely anything approaching an attempt at actual songwriting, and unlike the enjoyable riff-salads we get in some of the more extreme genres, in this case there isn’t even any passion to carry the day.

I'm done. Worst record I've heard, in any genre of music, in at least three years. As the title suggests, I imagine things will only get worse, as a fifty-year old Mustaine continues pumping out recycled garbage based on the encouragement of listeners who seek nothing beyond the mere genre classification of “metal.”

Now where is my copy of Peace Sells?