Review Summary: Megadeth is back with 'Endgame'- their best album in years.
Did anyone really expect anything from Endgame
, Megadeth's twelfth time at the plate? Sure, they'd struck gold before, but to many it had appeared as though they'd used up their nine lives- and then some. Despite getting back on track slightly with 2007's above average United Abominations
, there was still an underlying sense of hopelessness- not that Megadeth would never release a good album again, but that they would never reach the level they were at in their 'glory days.' Thrash as a genre was revitalized by Metallica's Death Magnetic in 2008- could Megadeth really live up the amount of praise that album received (from most?) The answer to that question is no. It didn't live up to Death Magnetic.
It surpassed it.
I am happy to report that Endgame
smashes any and all expectations set for it. It appears as though new guitarist Chris Broderick has revitalized the band- the underlying flat feel on many of United Abominations
tracks is done away with, with all of the musicians feeling energetic, and also excited
- a feeling necessary to make good thrash. That's not to say that energetic and excited are the only moods that this album conveys, however. There are a couple of drops in tempo, including a semi-acoustic ballad that (yes) works! But more on that later.
Dave Mustaine's voice has been the biggest criticism of Megadeth since the release of their first album. Luckily, however, he appears to have improved with age. Dave is no Whitney Houston, but he can actually carry a song in a passable manner- even in tune! However, fans of his old voice need not worry- he still has his trademark snarl and it shows up on the album more than once. Drummer Shawn Drover also does a good job behind the kit. He may not be the most exciting drummer out there right now, but he certainly gets the job done with a variety of beats and the occasional fill. Recently departed (kicked out) bassist James LoMenzo also does a competent job, although he rarely gets chances to show off his skill (as is the case in most thrash metal bands these da... well, ever).
The songs themselves are, for the most part, fantastic. "This Day We Fight!," "Head Crusher," and "How The Story Ends," are all superb thrash metal tracks reminiscent of Megadeth's old days, albeit with a more polished production job courtesy of Dave Mustaine and Andy Sneap. "44 Minutes" is one of the aforementioned mid-tempo songs on the album, and it works very well indeed. The chorus is probably the catchiest of the whole disc and it also features one of my favourite guitar solos on the album. "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go...Sealed With A Kiss" is the other slower song on the record. It begins with a lone acoustic guitar but is quickly joined by Mustaine singing (yes, actually singing) and an orchestral backing. This was a very brave move on the part of the band to attempt something so... big
. It is a very emotional song, and even when it turns into an (albeit slightly slower-paced compared to the rest of the album) thrash metal track after about two minutes it still maintains the same emotion. I think Mustaine's voice works on this song- it makes the song feel more real than if it were some polished pop star singing it. That would feel artificial, but as it is, this feels real and actually passionate. One of my favourites off the whole album.
The downsides to Endgame
are minimal. A couple of mediocre middle offerings come in "Bite The Hand" and "Bodies," but these are easily skipped if you do not care for them. Intro "Dialectic Chaos" feels a little unnecessary- the album could have easily just started with "This Day We Fight!" and no one would have made a second look. Finally, closer "The Right To Go Insane" feels a little generic, although it has features some great riffs, particularly in the chorus. Other things that could be improved on are making the bass playing more noticeable and reducing the number of guitar solos. I love a good guitar solo just like the next guy, but when you are constantly getting hammered with one or two per song for the entire album, it feels like a little much. No credit taken away from Broderick, however: he is a phenomenal guitarist.
Do I recommend Endgame
? Yes, Megadeth fan or not, I think this album is worth checking out. It is their best album in years and a great return to form for the band. With their thirteenth album coming up, the only thing to ask now is: what's next?