Review Summary: Not an instant classic, but a solid effort nonetheless
Track by Track
1) Sudden Death
Sudden Death accurately sets the tone for the rest of the album within the first minute. There are some cool production techniques on display such as panning main riff (which is oddly simple, but works out fine) back and forth during the introduction. The guitar work and vocal line meld well together during the chorus. Despite Mustaine's good job singing, the chorus remains lyrically unimpressive.
2) Public Enemy No. 1
This is the single the released to generate hype for the album. Honestly when it first broke I didn’t hear anything amazing, so I never gave it a thorough listen. After giving it another listen, I can say that I like this song: its catchy, has great solos and a killer riff to back it up. This song reminds me of the Rust In Peace era Megadeth, which is a really good thing for me. Though this song achieves much, it still doesn’t compare to the RIP material.
3) Whose Life (Is It Anyways)
The opening of the song reminds me a punk song, which could explain the whiny, “fight-the-man” lyrics. Honestly, the more I listen to this song, the more I hate it – which is too bad, because the instrumentation is not bad in any way. Mustaine’s lyrics kill this song for me, “ you hate the way I wear my clothes…you hate my friends and where we go”... are you kidding me? You are 50 years old Dave Mustaine, what was he envisioning when he wrote this song?
4) We the People
I was pleasantly surprised when the drum cadence intro didn’t drag on. A tight intro leads into a killer song, with a surprisingly funky feel. The riff almost reminded me of a Rage Against the Machine jam, which was very unexpected. The acoustic outro was well constructed and helps set up the next song nicely.
5) Guns, Drugs, & Money
As much as I shouldn’t draw comparisons between Metallica and Megadeth, this song strongly reminded me of the latter half of “Blackened”. The song plods along without out really going anywhere. Guns, Drugs, & Money is unsurprisingly about guns, drugs and money. However, there is not greater message condemning vice or suggesting overconsumption in society. Rather, the song is just about a Mexican gunman in a Wild West atmosphere – which isn’t very interesting.
6) Never Dead
Structurally, Never Dead sounds like it could be on Endgame. It’s a straight-ahead headbanging modern thrash song. It’s a solid tune with a truly killer solo. If you liked Endgame, you’ll love this song.
7) New World Order
This song didn’t do much for me…until the breakdown about halfway into the song. The song went from boring to classic Megadeth via a Hangar 18 tempo change. Once New World Order breaks free, it turns into one of my favorite tracks on the album. Though the solos are good, it’s the intricate rhythm patterns that really make this song stand out.
8) Fast Lane
Megadeth’s very own song about racing *cough* Fuel *cough*. Overall, this song didn’t do much for me. I thought the riff was weak and forgettable. Once again, Mustaine strikes out lyrically (badly). It sounds like he took a rhyming dictionary and took the first 5 words that rhymed with plane. The end result is a track that just sounds childish and could’ve easily been omitted from TH1RT3EN.
9) Black Swan
Black Swan begins so seamlessly; it seems to pick up where Fast Lane left off. Luckily, Black Swan makes none of the mistakes Fast Lane does. The riff has forward momentum and the lyrics are stronger here than anywhere else on the album. Mustaine’s vocal work is catchy; the song is easy to sing along to, even after only 1 or 2 listens. All things considered, Black Swan is my favorite track off TH1RT3EN.
I love the riff. It is a good, old-fashioned headbanging groove. This track does achieve a unique groove that isn’t found anywhere else on the album, which makes Wrecker stand out. However, the song is about a home wrecker. I don’t think Mustaine could have picked a topic that I could relate to less. Lyrically, the song is like Tornado of Souls, but without any of the poetic delivery. I still like the track, but the lyrics hold it back from becoming my standout favorite.
11) Millennium of the Blind
The song opens with a memorable ascending guitar solo. The solos throughout the song are fantastic. Mustaine does an acceptable job lyrically here; personally, I don’t connect well with his political sentiments, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring what he’s accomplished. The more I listen to Millennium, the more I’m warming up to it.
12) Deadly Nightshade
Opening with my favorite riff on the album, Deadly Nightshade is a song that oozes aggression. Coming in at 4:56, Nightshade is one of the longest tracks off of TH1RT3EN, but it never feels drawn out. The solos are fantastic and the chorus gives you a good excuse to try your best Dave Mustaine impression. This is the only song on the album that Ellefson’s bass playing stands out.
I wasn’t expecting much from 13; mostly because I thought the whole “13” concept that sparked the album was lame. But this song turned out to be a neat, melodic Megadeth jam. A Tout le Monde comes to mind when you first hear it, 13 doesn’t feel like a rehash of old material. I was pleasantly surprised how not cheesy this track was (I suffered a major facular when I first heard the title for the album was TH1RT3EN) and 13 does a fabulous job as being the title-track. The lyrics are well constructed and feel deeper than most of the dribble on this album. I felt it was a satisfying ending to the album.
This is my favorite thrash album of the last decade. It wasn’t amazing, I won’t have every song on my metal playlist; but it was a solid effort. I didn’t dislike any tracks on the album (except for perhaps Whose Life or Fast Lane). Megadeth can certainly be proud of their latest effort. I’m sure Mustaine will gain a new level of arrogance, especially when the critics begin to compare TH1RT3EN to Lulu. I was slightly disappointed with Mustaine’s ability to write relevant lyrics, (particularly on Whose Life, Fast Lane, and Wrecker) but Black Swan and 13 assured me that Mustaine still has it. I loved the playing, though in my opinion Broderick’s solos are too low in the mix. He really shreds his ass off on this record and it’s a shame that his playing is hidden under Mustaine’s rhythm guitar. Also, being that TH1RT3EN marks the triumphant return of David Ellefson, I wasn’t particularly struck by his bass playing on the album – it was just average. All in all, TH1RT3EN was a solid effort with a few great tracks, but it fails to achieve Megadeth’s earlier success.
(this is my first review, please leave comments)