Review Summary: A poor album that thankfully almost redeems itself with a few decent tracks.
Following a string of unimpressive (Cryptic Writings) to downright insulting (Risk) albums that dabbled in the more commercial side of music, Megadeth sought to make a return to their heavier roots with their 2001 album The World Needs A Hero. The result is often the result of more praise than what they had done following Youthanasia, with the riff work undeniably being far more intense and tracks such as Return To Hangar being singled out as highlights. In all honesty, this album is actually nothing special at all, with uninspired song structures that stray away from the out-of-control madness of their more technical earlier works, and the individual performances of each member of the band do little to set it apart from most post-1990 Megadeth.
One of the most noteworthy things about this album is the departure of Marty Friedman on lead guitar. Instead, Al Pitrelli stepped up to take over the role and, to be honest, he is a large portion of what makes this album such a trainwreck. Prior to this release, Megadeth songs were driven by lightning fast guitar solos that never failed to melt faces. In place of these are watered down, repetitive shred-fests that just feel like a guitarist playing fast for the sake of it. The aforementioned Return To Hangar's guitar solo trade-off in particular sticks out as feeling forced. Meanwhile, on the other half of the guitar work is Dave Mustaine with the rhythm riffs. Opener Disconnect says all that needs to be said really. This song makes use of around three riffs throughout its entire five minute duration, and it could not get any more boring it it tried. These songs milk the limited pool of below-par guitar riffs to the point of nausea, with the title track and Promises also suffering severely, with the latter even failing to make good use of an acoustic guitar.
Thankfully, one or two tracks on this release truly are gems in the rough. The one-two combo of Losing My Senses and Dread And The Fugitive Mind give this album a little to be proud of, with the former having some surprisingly nice guitar work and the latter sticking out as the strongest track on the album. It is arguably the thrashiest song on the album aside from Return To Hangar, and Mustaine's off-kilter vocal performance and the stop-start riffs bring back fond memories of a more aggressive Sweating Bullets. Meanwhile, Return To Hangar has some nice riff work and serves as a decent enough continuation of the story begun on the legendary first song off of Rust In Peace, despite being let down by the rather underwhelming guitar soloing.
The World Needs A Hero is a mixed bag of an album that gets things right on certain songs but sadly the positives are far outweighed by the negatives. Dave's manic yelping on the better songs and the furious riff work that drives them makes the three aforementioned great songs the only ones really worth checking out, whereas the rest of this release just continues Megadeth's post-Youthanasia downward spiral.