Review Summary: Megadave and co. return with their best album in over 15 years.
broke into the mainstream with Countdown to Extinction
in 1992 no-one really knew where they would go next. In an attempt to maintain their new-found popularity, the band released Youthanasia
, a more ‘accessible’ album when compared to the heavy thrash attack provided by their earlier work, and while this album was by no means bad it was definitely a step back in quality for the band. During the 90’s they would take further steps back in a slow decline to mediocrity that eventually culminated with 1999’s Risk
which, put simply, was a downright turd of an album and the ultimate low point in Megadeth
’s back catalogue. Moving into the 00’s however things started to look up as both The World Needs a Hero
and The System Has Failed
were a definite improvement over anything the band had put out in recent years. So when United Abominations
was released in 2007 to an overly positive reception, both fans and critics alike wondered once again where the band would go next, would they return to their thrash roots of the 80’s, or evolve their sound into something more mature and ‘progressive’ than they’ve ever done before?
The answer? Both.
Dave Mustaine and co. have produced what is quite possibly their best album since Countdown to Extinction
. It pretty much blows any other ‘thrash revival’ album of the last few years out of the water; forget The Formation of Damnation
, forget Christ Illusion
, forget Hordes of Chaos
stands head and shoulders above them all.
Like all Megadeth
albums what makes Endgame
so great is the driving force behind the band: Dave Mustaine. His fast riffs, ripping solos, snarling vocals and varied lyrics are instantly recognisable amongst metal fans and really epitomise the sound of the band. There really is not one bad riff or solo on the whole album, and this applies to new guitarist Chris Broderick as well as Mustaine himself. Instrumental opener Dialectic Chaos
highlights their impressive twin-axe attack at its best with a variety of aggressive and technical riffs, and fast shredding solos. There’s actually a rather nice variety of speeds and styles to the riffs, while 1,320
and Head Crusher
showcase the speed and aggression associated with more typical thrash metal songs, 44 Minutes
are much more slower-paced, yet still pack as big a punch as the aforementioned speed-fests.
That’s not to say that the impressive guitar work overpowers the rhythm section by any means, as both bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Shawn Drover provide an excellent backbone to the band’s sound. Shawn’s fills are solid, consistent and in-time throughout, and he’s not above occasionally keeping things simple when required. And unlike a lot of metal albums, the bass is kept at a perfect volume; audible, but not over-bearing. Similar to Shawn, James is consistent throughout, thundering along with the guitars, and occasionally carving his own path through the songs with some unique riffs.
As mentioned earlier Dave’s vocals and lyrics are a major part of the band’s unique sound. He manages to cover a massive range of topics over the course of the album, from politics (Endgame
, The Right to Go Insane
), to war (How the Story Ends
), to ancient torture devices (Head Crusher
) and even Lord of the Rings (This Day We Fight!
). Meanwhile, 1,320
brings back memories of Mechanix
from the Killing is my Business…
album, with it’s topic of fast cars and adrenaline, and The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss
tells your typical lost love story. All the while these lyrics are being perfectly sung, snarled and shouted by Mr. Mustaine himself; of course Dave has always been a marmite vocalist, but as a fan I really can’t fault his performance. The only track where his voice seems out of place is the aforementioned token ballad The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss
, where his attempt at a croon comes across as cheesy and doesn’t really fit the soft tone of the song. The Hardest Part…
is actually the most ‘progressive’ track on the album, being a two-parter that flows between its multiple sections seamlessly; The Hardest Part of Letting Go…
being the softer half, with its acoustic guitars and string arrangements, and Sealed With A Kiss
being the heavier, more aggressive half.
It’s very unlikely that Megadeth
will ever produce another album to equal their classics, but Endgame
really does come close. Not only is it the sound of a band rediscovering their roots, it’s also the sound of a band progressing further than they’ve ever done before, showing amazing technical prowess while remaining tight and consistent throughout. Endgame
is the best metal album likely to be released this year, and it's also Megadeth’s best album since their classic era. Testament
, step aside; let Megadave and co. show you how it’s done.