Dave Mustaine " Lead Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Marty Friedman " Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitars & Backing Vocals
David Ellefson " Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Jimmy DeGrasso " Drums
Risk was the first Megadeth album released after the departure of long-time drummer Nick Menza, and is quite a departure from their usual sound. Many fans see it as the band"s worst album and dismiss it, but they are the fans that expect Megadeth to churn out just heavy metal songs for eternity. Risk should be viewed as exactly what it is: a collection of well-written rock songs (not quite the "pop-songs" that Dave describes them as) which are commercial sounding without being total radio-sellout tracks. But very little heavy metal. So whether or not you"ll agree with my rating of Risk depends very much upon how open minded you are to other forms of music.
Having said all that, it is still obviously Megadeth that is blasting out the speakers. Dave"s distinctive voice is still solidly in place (and even more pleasant on the ear as a result of the voice lessons he took prior to recording). Marty Friedman"s lead parts are as varied as ever, and his and Dave"s rhythm guitars, although less prominent than on previous albums, still sit well in the mix. David"s basslines are fairly simple but compliment the music well, and Jimmy more than adequately fills the recently-vacated drum stool (although he doesn"t really get a chance to show off his true ability which was later made evident on the "Rude Awakening" live album, which sadly, features no songs off Risk).
The album kicks off with a weird sounding riff swiftly kicking into the first verse that is "Insomnia" a catchy and tuneful rocker in the same vein as "Almost Honest" or "Elysian Fields", with lyrics relating, obviously, to suffering from lack of sleep. Features a cool bridge section with a great eastern-sounding solo.
After a lengthy spoken intro over menacing bass and drums, the main part of the second track "Prince Of Darkness" starts up. A fairly upbeat song which despite being mid-paced and quite repetitive, really grows on you after a few listens. One of the few tracks hinting towards the older metallic sound.
"Enter The Arena" is, judging by the lyrics, intended as an intro to "Crush "Em" but is in fact entirely pointless, as it doesn"t fade into or join onto the next song, and is definitely filler.
The aforementioned "Crush "Em" on the other hand is much better. A drum and bass intro reminiscent of "Peace Sells" leads into what Dave has described as "a disco song." Despite this claim, "Crush "Em" really shows the band"s ability to adapt to differing forms of music, with a catchy tune and gang vocals thrown in to boot.
"Breadline" in comparison seems like a bit of a letdown to start with, being as it is a very non-heavy track, but as it goes on, it gets better. Rather like a more upbeat version of "Use The Man" with lyrics about a drug-addict living on the poverty line. I found myself humming this song constantly after hearing it a few times, and despite being one of the most poppy songs on Risk, it is definitely a highlight.
"The Doctor Is Calling" begins with an ominous instrumental passage that sets the sound for the rest of the song, with some dialogue involving a little kid, and a doctor diagnosing a mad patient, and continues with a slow-paced verse, before an anthemic chorus. The rest of the song is much the same, with a weird high-pitched solo from Marty. A grower after a few listens.
"I"ll Be There" incorporates keyboards into the mix (you can just about hear them!). Dave"s vocals really shine here, and he puts a lot of emotion into the delivery, reminiscent of "A Tout Le Monde" but less poppy.
It may just be me, but the chorus of "Wanderlust" reminds me quite a bit of "Dead Or Alive" by Bon Jovi! This isn"t such a bad thing however, as it provides a nice contrast to the boring verses, and dodgy cowboy/western lyrics.
"Ecstasy" starts off with acoustic strumming, before the drums and a nice bassline enter in. The verse has some nice vocal harmonies, before the distortion comes on for a great tuneful chorus. The vocal melodies throughout the song are really catchy (in a very good way), and there is a criminally short but still great solo from Marty.
The opening to "Seven" sets a nice groove going, however the rest of the song is quite average, despite a furious vocal delivery from Dave.
"Time: The Beginning" is a subdued acoustic number, with some thoughtful lyrics about the passing of time, which leads into "Time: The End," a chugging metallic dirge containing the best solos on the album, and a fitting end.
Obviously, this album doesn"t live up to Megadeth"s amazing earlier work like Rust In Peace or Countdown To Extinction, but the point of this review is to convince people that Risk isn"t the abject failure than many claim it to be.