After 1999's stab at modern rock, Risk, Megadeth seemed to be on its last legs. The metal community seemed to be growing tired of the band's antics. Every album seemed to contain less and less metal, and the band was content in taking part in this radical change. But after the failure, success-wise, of Risk, Dave Mustaine decided that he and his band mates had gone too far and did what many of his contemporaries had done at some point in their careers – return to their roots. Released in 2001, a year when the world coincidentally did need a hero following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the record was better received than Risk. Featuring new guitarist Al Pitrelli, The World Needs a Hero is easily a decent record, yet at the same time is somewhat on the weak side.
As I previously mentioned, The World Needs a Hero was advertised as a return to Megadeth's roots. In a way it is. However, those expecting the thrash metal in the vain of Rust in Peace, Peace Sells, or Killing is my Business will be disappointed, as this is most certainly not such album. In truth, The World Needs a Hero is more of an all out metal record. It has its fair share of excellent songs which display this type of music, songs like Return to Hangar or When. No, the riffy goodness found on songs like Take No Prisoners or Wake up Dead is not really found here, but the riffs that take their place do not let up in the heaviness. Heaviness is a key factor in the album's music, a factor that Mr. Mustaine does an excellent job of not only writing, but also performing. Recipe for Hate…Warhorse and Dread and the Fugitive Mind (a song similar to Countdown to Extinction's Sweating Bullets) feature this aspect, and feature it in a situation where it is put to very good use. As it's pretty much been from day one (save for Risk, obviously), this is the area where Megadeth excels the most. The musical aspect on The World Needs a Hero is very well done, and the songs that possess the best of these features are all excellent tracks.
Well with that said, you must be wondering why I gave this a 3 if the music is excellent. Well, the music may be excellent on songs like Return to Hangar and Dread and the Fugitive Mind, but the album contains quite a few stinkers as well. 1000 Times Goodbye is the worst offender here. Quite the cringe worthy song, it contains some of Dave's worst vocal performances…ever. It has dull, weak instrumental sections which fail to catch the listener's attention. The voices in the back ground are quite annoying as well, and are very ineffective. To make matters worse, the song is over 6 minutes long. Other fairly bad, seemingly filler tracks include Burning Bridges and Losing My Senses. Similarly to 1000 Times Goodbye, both songs really don't go anywhere. They're fairly unimaginative pieces which are better for skipping than for listening to. Luckily they're out numbered by quality material…
Listen carefully, and you may notice a missing presence. That’s right; Megadeth's staple on lead guitar, Marty Friedman, has been replaced by the formerly mentioned Al Pitrelli. However, despite giving an adequate performance in his role, Al does not fill the colossal gap that was created with the exodus of Marty. While the solos are not necessarily all that bad, one could only imagine how a Friedman shredded solo would have improved the likes of Disconnect or Moto Psycho. I always thought Marty's playing was a valuable part of Megadeth's formula, listen to Tornado of Souls or Hangar 18 and you'll know why, so it's disappointing to not have him present for the album.
Megadeth's The World Needs a Hero was not the band's best album. Actually, it may have been one of their lesser albums. But after Dave Mustaine's (un)calculated risk, Risk, an album rooted more in commercial rock; it was nice to see Megadeth turn back to metal. The World Needs a Hero has some high quality Deth tracks such as Return to Hangar and Dread and the Fugitive Mind. The 2001 effort was a step in the right direction for Dave and Co (but more importantly Dave). Unfortunately the Megadeth would disband not too long after the release, only to reform in 2004. Check this out if you have some extra cash to throw around.
Return to Hangar
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Recipe for Hate…Warhorse