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Different, but still powerful. - 82%

hells_unicorn, March 1st, 2008

This album was unique amongst the collection of releases that MegaDeth set to CD in the 1990s, in that it was a complete changeover in style, yet it still worked quite nicely. Whereas "Countdown to Extinction" featured a heavier emphasis on strong chorus, but still contained a good collection of speedy songs with thrash-inspired riffs, this album is completely slowed down and all emphasis is placed upon solos and choruses.

The consequence of the songs on here is quite massive, other than Dave Mustaine's highly distinctive voice, this is almost like a completely different band. Nick Menza has slowed down a bit and is utilizing the toms a lot more in his beats, and Marty Friedman is tailoring his solos more for dramatic effect and less for impressing the audience with speed. All of this fits together nicely, and gives a fresh and original sound that was not merely unique in 1994, it stood completely alone in a desert of creative desolation. The one release that kept me from hating that year like a passion was this one, which was one of my early CD purchases as a post-grunge metal head.

Out of the collection of mid-paced anthems and slower paced rockers, about half of the songs deserve specific analysis, as they do tend to run together a bit. The opening track "Reckoning Day" is probably the fastest song on here, and has a great opening riff that reminds me a bit of Whiplash off Metallica's debut album. "Addicted to Chaos" has a neat drum intro, although the collection of fully developed and varied riffs are what push it over the top. "A Tout Le Monde" is my second favorite tune on here, pretty much a less repetitive and more melodic version of "Fade to Black". "The Killing Road" and "Black Curtains" both have exceptional leads in them, although I would say that the radio-friendly "Train of Consequences" takes my pick for the best solo.

However, the two true highlights of this album are "Victory" and "Family Tree". The former has some great nostalgic lyrics for steady fans of MegaDeth who have followed them since their inception in the early 80s, not to mention some good driving riffs. The latter is my personal favorite for that amazing chorus, in the past 12 years I've never been able to get it out of my head, even after not listening to it for more than a year.

This album may not sit too well with Thrash fans, but fans of Traditional 80s Metal will like this. Anyone who likes a strong song, with all the right hooks, and a good balance between instrument and voice will not be let down. I proudly give this gem, cut from a mountain of coal that was 1994, a strong endorsement.