posted on 9/2009 By:
Oh how Dave Mustaine doth deceive us. These past 17 years have been, to say the least, frustrating. Yes, you read right, it’s been seventeen years and six albums since Mustaine gave us anything worthy of more than a C+ grade. The last two albums were enjoyable enough, hinting at a possible revival, but even those barely met quality-for-a-veteran-band status. The Megadeth mastermind, thrash god, and half-controversial media loudmouth had us believing that his creativity was all but dead.
We have all been fooled.
Endgame, the new Megadeth album (the twelfth, no less), has a title which may not only refer to its galloping and multi-sectioned title track, to Mustaine’s doomsday lyrics, anti-governmental rants, or to his overall thrash-ready political paranoia. It may also refer to a seemingly washed up creative force rediscovering what he was meant to do: writing the blinding thrash that built the once unstoppable mechanism of ass-kickery known as Megadeth. Erased are the flaccid commercial aspirations, the Metallica-chasing (although many will wrongly claim that this album is a response to Death Magnetic), those awkward attempts at complexity, and perhaps most importantly, the feeling that it’s long been a masked solo career. The half-assed game that Dave has been playing since Youthanasia is at an end. From the moment the shredfest intro “Dialectic Chaos” transitions into the brilliant “This Day We Fight!”, two things are extremely clear: Megadeth have more than delivered on the small promises shown on the prior two albums, and Dave is finally letting his band be a band again. New guitarist Chris Broderick, with his Jeff-Loomis-by-way-of-Bay-Area-Thrash style (he’s a former touring member of Nevermore after all), is all over this beast; skinsman Shawn Drover infuses his own style far more than on United Abominations; and James Lomenzo, well, he does what a ‘Death bassist does: not much, but more than enough.
By mixing nearly every era of a long and storied career (take a guess which era is missing), and getting away from trying to pen hit singles, Mustaine has written what should rightly be his biggest hit among fans and critics in long over a decade. Endgame is so overflowing with riffs, hooks, perfectly-executed transitions and signature snarls that the Rust in Peace meets Countdown to Extinction rumors are actually fairly accurate. Even if this album doesn’t quite reach those levels of excellence, it firmly places itself among the killer half of the Megadeth catalog. Alongside the aforementioned “This Day We Fight!” and epic title track, Endgame contains no less than five instant classics which completely outshine the “highlights” from The System Has Failed and United Abominations. The speed-thrash of “1,320” doesn’t let up until the flurry of guitar solos end, and would have felt quite at home on So Far, So Good. Leadoff single “Headcrusher” further features the Mustaine-Broderick tandem (whole lotta’ soloin’ goin’ on), in addition to a fist-pumper chorus, great bridge section, and some particularly tasteful-yet-technical drumming by the hi-hat-happy Drover. To put the icing on the cake, Endgame closes with “The Right to Go Insane,” one of the most addictive songs of Megadeth’s career, and unlike radio hits such as “Trust” or “Reckoning Day,” it sacrifices zero in terms of song craft, musicianship, or lyrical quality.
Ok, so half of the songs destroy, but the others? They would easily have been standouts on any of the previous six albums, and even that undervalues them. “44 Minutes” feels like Youthanasia done right, yet shreds like nothing on that album. “How The Story Ends” helps the album’s last third be the strongest since Rust in Peace. Even the ballad “The Hardest Part Of Letting Go...Sealed With A Kiss” is riff-heavy and devoid of the clichés which usually derail Mustaine’s attempts to get sensitive. Until Endgame is heard, it’s hard to believe exactly how much things seem right in the Megadeth camp again. Sealing the deal is the nearly perfect production, provided again by the team of Andy Sneap and Mustaine. Clear, crisp, and heavy, their work together is improved over the sound on United Abominations, particularly the leads and drums.
Make no mistake about it, Endgame is the finest Megadeth album since Countdown to Extinction, and virtually eliminates the worth of the six albums in between. Dave Mustaine has finally released a set of songs that doesn’t just have the name Megadeth on it, but truly is an actual MEGADETH album. Say farewell to the snoozers, the alt-metal attempts, the barely b-side worthy album tracks, and especially your heavy metal heartbreak. If Dave keeps this line-up together and tours like crazy (without relying on another lazily-booked Gigantour), he’ll remind his peers and fans alike why Megadeth always were better, and once again are. No matter which of the last six albums made you abandon the band, Endgame will be the one that brings you back. That smile on your face is real, enjoy it my friends.
posted on 9/2009 By:
Many people say that the title of the 1987's sci-fi action flick “Predator” was not named after the thermal-visioned alien stealth hunter antagonist, but was in fact referring to Schwarzenegger himself. I agree; much in the same way that I'm pretty sure I know who Blabbermouth is actually referring to, when one - David Scott Mustaine's - personal blog seems to interrupt their news stream on an almost hourly basis.
With Mustaine's constant media presence and the fact that the band's last record was only released two years ago, there is no real reason that a new Megadeth outing should really have spurred the kind of anticipation that it does. There was little incentive to expect the current lineup to stick around for any length of time and the last two albums lacked the balls to continue trying new things and completely lacked the focus to do “back to the roots” properly. There was just something in the air that spiritually suggested Endgame was gonna kick some amount of ass though, wasn't there? Well here's a clip from my news stream. “It does.”
So, you're Dave Mustaine, hypothetically, enough is enough, you need to write an amazing record that is Megadeth through and through. How do you start? You introduce your album like it's the last track you'll ever play. With drums that pump energy with every squash of the kick pedal, textbook guitar lines and dual soloing the likes of which have not been seen since “Hangar 18.” Take no prisoners! Set the world afire! Hello me, MEET THE REAL ME!!
“Dialectic Chaos” only takes a couple of instrumental minutes to reach absolote fever pitch when we roll straight into “This Day We Fight!” There is not a single moment that is not purest Megadeth from the moment Mustaine's wicked sneer takes over at this point. This is thrash metal, written and performed by experts; stamped in trademarks, formulaic only in the same way that all great beers have alcohol in them.
Tackling familiar themes of war and personal relationships, Mustaine's lyrics may be awkwardly literal at times, seldom holding a candle to the likes of older classics like “Peace Sells,” but shows a relieving improvement to some of the awful pop-politic lyrics and song titles from United Abominations. Leading single “Head Crusher” even manages to tastefully pull off a rather meathead metal subject. Just.
Despite the fact that Mustaine actually hasn't or will ever find peace with his history with Metallica, there is no sense that Endgame is in any way a reaction to Death Magnetic. Interestingly enough though, where Metallica added ingredients from everything between Kill 'Em All to St. Anger, Endgame also recollects some of the band's past sounds and styles, backing to the aforementioned roots and embracing everything that grew from them. From the raw Killing is my Businessness of the drag-racing “1,320'” intro, to the Rusted riffing and Countdown rock'n'roll rythms of “Bite the Hand,” right up to the surprisingly strong influence of The World Needs a Hero in the chorus of “Bodies” and the ballad-for-a-while “The Hardest Part of Letting Go... Sealed with a Kiss.”
Having always been a member carousel, it's surprising Megadeth have very rarely struggled to convey musical unity on record - that is until the post-Ellefson era, beyond the reformation in 2004. Endgame relights a sense of camaraderie for 2009, with a line-up of metal veterans, comfortable and capable beyond belief. LoMenzo and Drover form a faultless rhythm section, whilst the addition of Chris Broderick to the ranks has stepped up the level of guitar playing to dizzying heights. The work Broderick has put into his solo parts shows an honorable and warm dedication to his position, and a contribution that undoubtably inspired Mustaine himself. Bow to the outro solo in the modestly epic and very memorable “44 Minutes.”
One unsung relationship that should not be overlooked is that between Mustaine and his producer-in-crime Andy Sneap, leaning and pushing on each other to bring together the best sounding Megadeth record to date. It's all there, you can hear who's behind this record, you can hear what it's about and you can place it proudly at the closest end of a 26-year history. When I listen to a song, I want to be able to tell who it's by and which album it's from. Well this is fucking Megadeth and the album is unmistakably Endgame.
Blabber on Dave.
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Greatest Hits - Back To The Start
The System Has Failed
Rude Awakening (DVD)