I have to tell you, I approached the new Megadeth with very little in way of expectations. The last album (Super Collider) did nothing for me. I think I listened to it twice before forgetting it even existed. There’s nothing wrong with Super Collider; it’s fine for what it is, but it sure didn’t appeal to me much. It felt like a bored artist trying to find something new to do, something that would spark some creativity and failing.
There were cries that this new album would be a return to form, that the addition of Chris Adler (Lamb of God) on drums and Kiko Loureiro (Angra) on guitar would revitalize MegaDave and bring back more of the thrash from earlier recordings. But I’ve heard that song and dance before in regards to other bands and albums. The band is “returning to their roots” and I would be blown away, they all promise, and mostly fail to deliver. So I just don’t trust such pronouncements.
Imagine my surprise when I hit the play button. Riffs, baby, and cascading solos, guitar notes flying everywhere, pummeling drums, and Dave’s snarky vocals. Yeah, this is Megadeth. Yeah, it’s a return to form. But is it any good?
It’s not remarkable, it’s not fantastic, but it’s solid, and relentless, and it sits in your ear with a pleasant ring, just like getting a phone call from an old friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. It reminds you of older songs, of vanquished vistas, of concerts passed and good times had. It feels right.
But it doesn’t excel.
This is a good album. No, check that, it’s a really good album, but there is nothing new here. This is a band doing what it does best and that’s all. And there is nothing wrong with that. This is no modern classic and it doesn’t pretend to be. It does Megadeth and does it right. And for a band that’s been around for something like thirty years, could we ask for more?
(This calls to mind the latest Slayer album. Another band from the same time period achieving the same sorts of results. Their days of being vital and leading the metal pack are past and that’s okay. They’re the old dogs, with nothing to prove other than they still remain and can still put out some good music)
And there’s good music here. The harmonic solos, the riffs, the ending of the song “Dystopia,” and so much more. This version of the band sounds like it’s been playing together for years; it’s cohesive and strong and Dave continues to rip out riffs that are like the blood of Christ, shed for all our sins and come to bring us salvation. The man is a genius and is really underappreciated. My favorites would be the opening salvo of “The Threat is Real” and “Dystopia,” as well as the instrumental “Conquer or Die,” which leads right into mid-paced bruiser “Lying in State.” And this is something crucial that Megadeth gets right where so many others fail: they don’t try to run you over with just lightning, they bludgeon you with thunder, too. This isn’t a band trying to prove itself by being hard and fast (I’m looking at you, Metallica), this is a band concerned with good, heavy songs, fast or slow.
It is a marvel that a band this long in the tooth can put out such a quality release. Kudos to Dave and all the players on the album. You did good, men.