Review Summary: Very good rock album, but most of people are unfortunately still trying to judge it as "standard Megadeth", the area where it obviously fails.
Dave Mustaine - lead vocals, rhytm guitar
Dave Ellefson - bass guitar, backing vocals
Marty Friedman - lead guitar
Jimmy DeGrasso - drums
was the 1999 followup to Cryptic Writings
, continuing the commercializing tendency set by previous albums. For many people, it was a huge failure, mainly older fans. After a few closer listens, it's not that bad though; in fact, Risk is an excellent album, it's just that many people are still trying to judge it as "normal Megadeth" album.
No, Risk is not heavy metal anymore and you have to take it like that. If you're a metal only fan, you most probably won't like it.
If you're openminded though and take Risk as simply a hard rock album with certain experimental elements, you'll maybe appreciate it.
2004 brought a remastered version of the album, which unfortunately left out some interesting parts.
So, how are the songs?
It all starts off with Insomnia
which is one of the heavier songs on the album and also among the best ones. So far, suprised. The violin (removed in remaster) fits in really nicely and Marty Friedman's experimental influence shows. The song is obviously about a lack of sleep ;)
Things continue with Prince of Darkness
which, for change, shows Dave Mustaine's influence and is one of the songs that are pretty close to previous Megadeth here (would fit into Youthanasia
pretty well). The intro is boring and long, but when it really starts off, it turns out to be a great heavy metal song. The lyrics apparently deal with alcohol abuse.
Enter The Arena
is an intro to the next song, obviously a filler. Crush 'Em
comes after. Shock. This is completely different from any Megadeth song previously released. It incorporates elements of electronica, Dave Mustaine called this a "disco song" :) but that's not really true. Marty Friedman's guitar solo has a vocal overlay, which I didn't like, I'd rather hear the solo itself. Overall, the song is sort of arena rock with electronic influences, it was for some time used by Bill Goldberg on WCW.
So far, so good! Breadline
falls into mediocrity though. It's watered down, simple ballad, with trivial lyrics and the music simply isn't great. The Doctor Is Calling
is awesome song though, with good vocal performance and somehow interesting melodies. I'll be There
is a ballad, but unlike Breadline, it's very emotional and it's even better live (see That One Night
). It contains a reference to Megadeth song In My Darkest Hour
("In my hour of need, you were there always") which I found pretty nice.
is one of the best songs on the album. It changes between slow parts with calm, dark vocals and faster parts where Dave goes high-pitched. The second part gets a lot faster and better and features a nice guitar solo.
is a good song, but unfortunately the vocals feature a sound effect which makes them worse. The song overall is calm and quite melodic, easy listening.
on the other hand is a good, fast rock song, sounds a bit like ZZ Top
to me :) There are nice guitar parts in the chorus, which were unfortunately removed in the remastered version. Dave's vocals are awesome here, so is instrumental work, including the guitar solo. The song is very dynamic and fun to listen to from beginning to end.
Time: The Beginning
is an acoustic piece, completely different from anything Megadeth or anything else from Risk. Electric guitar is used to play the solo though. Again, nice vocal work. The song is very well composed and quite emotional.
The real gem is hidden for the end. It's called Time: The End
and it's mostly instrumental (vocals in the beginning) piece and contains one of the top 10 Megadeth guitar solos (albeit the song overall is pretty short).
The remastered version also contains alternate mixes of Insomnia, Breadline and Crush 'Em. Especially the last one makes the listener think "WTF?!".
If you're considering buying Risk, get the unremastered version if possible. There is nothing improved on the remaster, some nice parts of some songs are removed and the alternate mixes are not worth it.
Time: The Beginning / The End