Review by Rick Ossian
Chugging riffs, angry vocals, breakneck leads and razor wire-sharp chord attacks aside, this is NOT your typical Megadeth album. In some ways it brings back audible memories; welcoming Dave Ellefson (bass, vocals) back into the fold as of 2010 is, indeed, a welcome addition. As there are ongoing Gigantour/Big Four gigs seemingly happening all the time, one wonders when Mustaine and company would have time to record. Alas, thank the gods that they have. You can almost hear Dave snarling on every track. Take opener, Sudden Death, for example: remember the razor wire-sharp riffing I mentioned above? Some of that very stuff follows a very tasty opening lead solo. You get the feeling that Dave is not kidding when he offers “an old fashioned beating within an inch of your life”.
That being said, perhaps I’m not the best scribe for the job here, as I am NOT a true, hard-core Megadeth fan. I DO like some of their tunes, and have even traveled to one of their gigs (Countdown to Extinction tour with Stone Temple Pilots as support). I have even purchased a few of their cd’s. Getting a taste of the first track to hit the air, Public Enemy Number One, reminded me how good these cats actually are/were. Mustaine gets out his rhyming dictionary with this one (invincible/despicable/reciprocal)(unbeatable/untreatable/unrepeatable, anyone?).
As with most Megadeth songs, Whose Life (Is It Anyways) is one of two things: a statement, or a question. Whose Life, of course, figures into the latter. We The People figures into the former. Both, however, question where society has taken us. “We need a regime change”, Dave intones. Far be it from me to expect Megadeth to offer up their two cents on the failures of society. Seems they’ve taken this road, lyrically speaking at least, before.
Only Mustaine would use cerveza/tequila for a rhyming couplet (Guns, Drugs & Money), and although I would’ve never thought it would work, there it is. Never Dead, as with the title track, features a slow, calm introduction, almost eerie, in fact. Of course, this does not last. Things turn thrashy rather quickly. My favorite lyric is ‘the torment never ends’. Reminds me of an old Zappa title (The Torture Never Stops). This track is also included in a trailer for a video game of the same name. New World Order sounds like it would be a tricky one to play. There is a lot of starting and stopping with an odd time signature here and there. Fast Lane, however, is more traditional thrash, with heavy riffery and a double-bass drum thump.
With the number Black Swan, I am reminded more of an almost classic 70’s rock beat. Another cool lyrical simile appears (just like a churchyard shadow). Wrecker, an ode to an x (female of Mustaine’s, perhaps?), comes slamming right out of the gate. This particular one reminds me of a bird or two I’ve known (Doesn’t matter what/She’ll wreck it).
While Millenium of the Blind and Deadly Nightshade both feature some very cool leads (as do all the tracks), and Nightshade also contains vocal FX (a la Pink Floyd, Queensryche, etc.), of which I’m a big fan, the closing tune is the one you want to hear. Th1rt3en is one epic bad-ass rock tune. It has a beautiful, melodic intro, as was mentioned above, but again, this situation does not last long. Things get more intense quickly. The devil is in the details, as they say. There are audible Mustaine snarls abounding here again. Luckily for us, the number 13 does not appear to be an unlucky one for our heroes. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s easy to see why these cats are in the Big Four. If you are a Megadeth fan, this is essential stuff. If you are not, pick it up anyway — perhaps you will become a convert, as I believe I have.