Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality (1971) Review

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Vocals: Ozzy Osbourne
Guitar: Tony Iommi
Bass: Geezer Butler
Drums: Bill Ward

“Master of Reality” is the third studio album from English heavy metal pioneers, Black Sabbath. The album was released by Vertigo Records on July 21, 1971. Produced by Rodger Bain, “Master Of Reality” received negative critical reception upon its release from contemporary critics. However, since then the album has been featured on many “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists from different publications. Despite the poor critical reception the album peaked at #5 on the UK Album Charts and #8 on the US Billboard Charts. The album received Gold status on advanced orders alone and it eventually sold 2 million copies in the US.

“Master of Reality” was released 10 months after the iconic “Paranoid” album. Among many things, this album is known for the downtuning of both the guitar and bass. On the tracks “Children of the Grave,” “Lord of This World,” and “Into the Void” Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler downtuned their instruments three semitones to a C#. In doing so, this produced a heavier and sludgier sound. Another reason for doing this was to make the guitar less painful for Iommi to play after tips of two of his fingers were severed in a factory accident years earlier.

The album opens with the classic “Sweet Leaf,” the band’s ode to marijuana. The track begins with the sound of someone coughing. That man coughing is guitarist Tony Iommi. The ultimate stoner anthem is an unapologetic psychedelic metal track that drowns the listener in power and sludge. Pretty basic song structure (as the critics at the time would point out as ‘repetitive’). Song begins with the main riff that goes straight into the opening verse, followed by a bridge (as there is no chorus). That happens one more time before we head into ape shit mode where the guys go ballistic on their instruments and Iommi fires off a solo. The song ends with another verse and bridge. Repetitive? Yes. Does it matter? No. This is a classic.

“After Forever” is one of my all time favourite tracks. Goddamn the groove on this track makes me salivate. It’s deliciously crushing. The track has a bit of a trippy intro with Tony Iommi playing the synthesizer. The entire band comes in and a groovy Geezer Butler bass-line, like cream, rises to the top. And then at about the 34 second mark that crushing Tony Iommi riff detonates and explodes. The groove that the band gates into has me in awe. And Bill Ward absolutely crushes his kit. The track takes a left turn around the 1:54 mark. The track slows down a touch but maintains its heaviness as the boys pound their instruments. Before the track ends, Sabbath graciously gives us two more crushing verses and Iommi lets loose a guitar solo. This song also happens to have one of Sabbath’s most infamous lines with “Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope – do you think he’s a fool?” Do yourself a favor. Play this track loud. Classic.

“Embryo” only has run-time of roughly 30 seconds and it serves as an intro for the next song. Although it’s extremely short, it’s a hauntingly beautiful instrumental that only features guitar with Iommi doing his thing. When Sabbath plays “Child Of The Grave” live, “Embryo” is played beforehand. Short and sweet.

Then we get to “Children Of The Grave,” a heavy metal masterpiece. A fan favourite, beloved by virtually anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre. This track is crushingly devastating. How the track begins is marvelous with a slow build with a ultra-heavy galloping riff straight into utter devastation. The riff from Mr. Iommi might be simplistic but the impact hits you like a freight train. The drum work from Bill Ward is earth shattering. It packs a whole lot of power in its punches. Geezer laces the track with with lyrics ahead of its time and Ozzy provides a great melody line for them. No chorus on this track (as was the case with a lot of Sabbath, especially in the early days) but three verses, all followed by a bridge. The boys wander off in some heavy tangents and Iommi blows our minds with a great guitar solo. IT’S SO DAMN HEAVY!

And then there’s “Orchid,” yet another short instrumental piece. But this clocks in around a minute and a half. It’s a little more, I guess for a lack of a better word, happy or upbeat than anything else on this album but it still has a dark, slightly depressing tinge to it. It’s a nice little guitar piece from Iommi, nothing more.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite song on a masterpiece album but “Lord Of This World” very well could be my favourite… or at least on some days I consider it to be. This track is another one of those ‘stoner’ metal tunes. The vibe on this track is contagious. If you’re not totally involved and engaged during the verses of this song then I don’t know what to tell you. The riff just has that groove that is completely infectious. It’s slow to mid-paced and the impact hits you hard like a punch in the face. The crunch of it is sublime. And damn, Ozzy’s flawless vocals over top of everything is just a cherry on top. Another great Iommi solo on this one. Geezer annihilates the rhythm section with his godly bass. Listen to what he’s doing when Iommi unearths his solo. Great stuff here. Play this track loud and guaranteed you’ll be head-banging before the track is finished.

The album’s penultimate track “Solitude” is one that seems to be polarizing among the fan base. Some hate it while others like myself love it. This is without a doubt one of the most darkest, most depressing songs that I have ever heard in my life. Though the music is shrouded in darkness, the lyrics take it to another level and adds to the overall vibe. “My future is shrouded in dark wilderness. Sunshine is far away, clouds linger on/Everything I possessed, now they are gone”. Geezer Butler’s lyrics are second to none. Though the song has a morbid vibe, it’s a slow paced, mellow, laid back track. Ozzy gives a different type of vocal performance. Many thought drummer Bill Ward provided the vocals for this track (as he would later do in Ozzy’s final years in Sabbath) but it is in fact Mr. Osbourne. Incredible work from Ozzy here. Tony Iommi also plays flute and piano here. Mr. Iommi also provides a mighty fine melodic guitar solo. Damn good song here. Criminally underrated.

The album concludes with “Into The Void,” a fan favourite who many claim to be the album’s best song. The album is unrelenting so you couldn’t possibly think that Sabbath wouldn’t give the listener a grand finale, a proper send off. And the proof is in the pudding with this sludgy doom-ridden onslaught of heavy metal godliness. And the track wastes no time in giving you a taste of that. The riff lord Tony Iommi unearths imminent doom with a chaos-embedded riff. But the real killer riff begins around the 1:15 mark. Bow down to Iommi. The king, the creator of the heavy metal riff delivers time and time again. Simplistic? Yes. Down right killer? Absolutely. The way he bends the note at the end of riff has me salivating. So much to love about this track. So much to love about this album. A perfect end to a perfect album.

What’s extremely impressive about “Master Of Reality” is that is was released a mere 10 months after the quintessential “Paranoid,” a masterpiece in its own right. And “Paranoid” was released 7 months after “Black Sabbath,” a masterpiece that spawned heavy metal. In 17 months, Black Sabbath released 3 groundbreaking untouchable albums. And they weren’t done cranking those out either. The influence and impact this album has made on music can’t be overstated or understated. Many claim or consider “Master Of Reality” to have provided/created the foundation for doom, stoner and sludge metal (don’t hold it against them but grunge too).

On this album, Tony Iommi had written some of the greatest heavy metal riffs of all-time. Riffs that were always imitated but never duplicated. Some of the heaviest, doom-soaked riffs that you will ever hear. “Children Of The Grave,” “After Forever,” “Into The Void,” etc., some of the most crushing riffs ever written. Dear God, the sludge! It oozes off the strings. The greatness of this album cannot be denied. It embodies perfection. It is quite possibly my favourite album ever recorded. The album might be extremely short, running approximately 34 minutes long, but it’s 34 minutes of pure greatness. Not an ounce of fat or filler on this album. Just perfection. “Master Of Reality” is a timeless record. It has stood the test of time and will continue to do.

RYM Rating: 5/5   Retrospective Rating: 10/10 (A +)

Recommendation: A musical masterpiece. One of the greatest, if not THE greatest album ever recorded. A MUST listen.

3 Favourite Songs: After Forever, Lord Of This World, Children Of The Grave.

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Megadeth – Dystopia (2016) Review

 

Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Kiko Loureiro
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Chris Adler

“Dystopia” is the fifteenth studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. The album was released by Tradecraft via Universal Records on January 22, 2016. Produced by Dave Mustaine (and co-produced and engineered by Chris Rakestraw), “Dystopia” largely received a positive response from both fans and critics alike, citing the return to a more aggressive and hard hitting sound. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, the band’s highest charting album since 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction” which debuted at #2. “Dystopia” shipped 49,000 copies in its first week of release, the highest amount since 2007’s “United Abominations”.

Following the release of the roundly hated “Super Collider” in 2013, Dave Mustaine and the rest of the band started to discuss a follow-up album, an urgency influenced by the death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman which gave Mustaine a sense of mortality. Several hardships hit the band in 2014. A tour planned for February and March was cancelled after a disagreement with a promoter and bassist David Ellefson lost his brother to cancer in May which led to more cancelled gigs. In October, Mustaine’s mother-in-law who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s went missing and her remains were found in late November. Additionally in late November, longtime drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick announced their departures from the band on the same day. After much speculation that Mustaine and Ellefson were to reunite the infamous “Rust in Peace” lineup, which later came out that the band in fact had discussions with Marty Friedman and Nick Menza, Megadeth hired Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler. All of the hardships the band had suffered through has culminated in Megadeth’s ferocious return to form.

This would be the first Megadeth album to feature Kiko Loureiro on guitar (replacing Chris Broderick) and Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler (replacing longtime member Shawn Drover).

The album opens with a track entitled “The Threat Is Real,” the second single released from the record. The song begins with an eerie, middle eastern tinged intro before a riff so menacing and powerful cuts straight through the speakers.The whole band kicks into chaotic overdrive and new guitarist Kiko Loureiro delivers a middle eastern flavored guitar solo before the opening verse. The verses gallop like the wind. It’s crushingly heavy and surges forward as Mustaine delivers his vocals in a perfectly catchy way. It’s hard not to hum along with Mustaine during the verses (if you haven’t learned the words yet). The choruses aren’t among Megadeth’s catchiest but I like them. The rhythm section is sublime on this track. Absolutely crushing. There are a few things that are apparent on the album’s opening track: i) Mustaine’s snarling vocal style is back ii) the band seems more motivated than they have in quite some time and iii) the chemistry with the new blood is apparent. Blazing opening track! Awesome song.

Then the title track “Dystopia,” the album’s third single. The song begins with yet another eerie intro before the band kicks in. And for the most part, pre-opening verse, it’s pretty mellow and laid back despite the dark and ominous tone/vibe. Then the verse kicks in. And wow, does it blow me away. The guitar riff that is on display here has been best described as something out of the Mega Man video game. And I love that comparison because that’s the kind of vibe I get from the riff. And also, the riff is just killer. I wouldn’t call it thrash but it’s a mid-paced ripper. And to go along with the verses’ killer riff is the absolute flawless vocal performance from Mr. Dave Mustaine. Just so damn catchy. The chorus is pretty basic, lyrically and vocal wise, as the name of the track is repeated over and over accompanied with face altering solos from guitar virtuoso Kiko Loureiro. The final 2 minutes or so features no vocals but showcases the new found chemistry between Mustaine and Loureiro. It might not be thrash but it’s Megadeth at their best again and it’s for sure an album highlight.

The there’s “Fatal Illusion,” the album’s opening single. It is, in all honesty, probably my least favourite of the three singles. And not because I don’t like this track because I do, but I just like the other two more. The track has seen a lot of positive attention but if there’s been any negative criticism, a lot of it has been directed at the track’s intro. I don’t hate the intro but I do see why people aren’t too crazy about it as the intro part last about 57 seconds of a 4 minute and 16 second song. I compare this intro to the intro of “Never Dead” off Megadeth’s “Th1rt3en” album. The intro is a bit too long and a bit pointless for a relatively short song. But after the first 57 seconds, the track is straight fire. Ellefson delivers a pummeling frantic bass line that kicks your head into the next dimension. The drums are bombarding, the guitar work is frenetic and relentless. The track delivers everything you wanted but was absent from “Super Collider”. The first two verses are pretty good but it’s far from the track’s highlights. Then at about the 2:30 mark, all hell breaks loose. Mustaine unleashes a riff, which sounds like it was lifted from “Black Friday” and all chaos ensues. A full blown thrash track is in full swing. Things get even better around the 3:15 mark. It’s fierce, it’s fast, it’s ferocious, the Megadeth of old are back. Structure wise, it’s vintage Mustaine of the PSBWB era with lots of twists and turns. Absolutely incredible.

Then comes “Death From Within,” one of my favourite songs off of the album. Now this song absolutely crushes. It’s ferocious, it’s vicious, it’s furious, it’s the Megadeth myself and other fans have been clamoring for for awhile. The surging charge of the guitars, the snarling vocals from Mustaine, and the crushing bombardment of that rhythm section is simply sublime. The verses chugs along with more of a mid to fast tempo that borderlines on thrash. The bridge/pre-chorus is without a doubt that track’s highlight and in my mind, one of the album’s brightest spots. The combination of the blitzkrieg riff and blazing rhythm section topped off with incredible vocals/lyrics provided by Mustaine makes for a memorable track. The chorus, for me, is a grower. When I first heard the song, I felt the chorus kind of ruined the track for me or at the very least brought it down a bit. But now, I love the chorus but it did take a few listens to get comfortable with it. Also, some nice lead work on this track. In my mind, this is a standout song. Aggressive, venomous, and head rattling.

Then there’s “Bullet To The Brain,”and still to this day, after many many many listens, is a track that I’m not too fond of. In my opinion, this is a song that should have been left off the album. It sounds like a song that would have appeared on Megadeth’s “Th1rt3en” album, it has that kind of vibe. It sounds really generic to me, especially the pre-chorus and chorus. I really like the intro though. A cool little acoustic piece. The verses, I guess you could call them, are actually not bad at all. I really like how Mustaine sings it. It’s when the “He had to KNOW, KNOW, KNOW…” part kicks in when the songs takes a deathly turn off a cliff. And then the chorus buries the corpse. I can’t stand the chorus. I don’t dislike it as much as when I first heard it but I still don’t like it. It’s generic and it’s just not good. But the best part of the track is around the 2:40 mark where a killer guitar lick is unleashed accompanied by a face altering solo. Really dark morbid vibe on this track. Overall, a song that has its moments but its fair share of weaknesses. Least favourite track off the album.

And then there’s “Post American World,” the first of three songs to see a writing contribution from Kiko Loureiro. The intro riff, albeit a simplistic and cool little riff, is very much a recycled Megadeth riff. It’s a riff very similar to that of one in “This Was My Life”. Then there’s the verses. They are absolutely killer. My God, the riffage is explosive, it’s ravenous, it’s rapturous. It’s straight up, a mid-paced sledge hammer to the back of the head. And Mustaine delivers his vocals perfectly to suit the riff. The verses are so good, it leaves you wanting more as there’s only two of them. The pre-chorus is solid as well with Mustaine perhaps foreshadowing the band’s musical direction: “If you don’t like where we’re going / Then you won’t like what’s coming next”. The chorus is simply okay, although it does ratchet up the tempo. But it’s nothing special, it’s a bit lazy. There’s a cool little haunting interlude around the 2:30 mark and if I had to guess, it’s what Loureiro contributed to the track. Overall, it’s a good track with some some good moments but it’s far from the album’s best.

“Poisonous Shadows” is the second track to feature writing contributions from Kiko Loureiro and was the final song to be written for the album. The song kicks off with a dark, ominous guitar lick provided by Kiko Loureiro. It is eventually met with some distortion and Loureiro unleashes a mighty fine guitar solo. Then the opening verse begins and my God, listen to that rhythm section. The galloping  of the guitars and the double kicks from Adler is earth shattering. It’s also pretty catchy too. The chorus is simply fantastic. It’s dark, it’s mystical, it’s melodic, it’s vibrant, it’s catchy, the chorus has it all. This track is the “The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With A Kiss” of “Dystopia,” which I feel is a good comparison. This track is cited by many as one of the album’s best tracks and when you listen to it you will understand. The musicianship is sensational and the track has everything. It’s heavy, also melodic, it has face melting guitar solos and it has a chorus that you can’t help but sing a long to. It’s not my favourite off the album but it’s definitely up there. Great track.

Then comes the instrumental piece “Conquer Or Die!,” the third and final song on the album to feature writing contributions from Brazilian virtuoso Kiko Loureiro. While it’s no “Into the Lungs of Hell,” it’s an incredible piece of work that showcases the talent of Loureiro. Though the writing credits are given to both Mustaine and Loureiro, you could definitely tell this is a Loureiro inspired masterwork and he did most of the writing on this one. The track really showcases the versatility, complexity, and talent of Kiko Loureiro. The overall tone and vibe of this track is really dark. Doomy and gloomy, you get the vibe of imminent doom. The first 1:15 of the track is merely clean guitars with no distortion as well as no bass or drums. All you hear is the brilliance of Loureiro. Then the heavy distortion and drums kick in and pummel the listener for the rest of the song. After hearing this track, there’s no doubt Megadeth got the right guy to fill Chris Broderick’s shoes. Kiko can do exactly what Broderick can do but with more feeling. Awesome instrumental.

And then comes “Lying In State,” without a doubt one of my favourite songs on the album. The track takes no time unleashing chaos. Right from the get go, it’s straight forward, in your face pulverizing thrash. The rumbling, catastrophic riffing is reminiscent of “Blackmail the Universe” off their 2004 TSHF album. Crushing riffs to go along with Chris Adler’s blitzkrieg double bass and a terrific vocal performance from Mustaine make “Lying In State” a standout track. I really dig the verses and choruses as I find them superb but the spoken word (although it’s spoken word sung with a melody so it’s kind of not spoken word) sections really shine. The breakdown section right before the solo is reminiscent of “Holy Wars” and it’s a super killer riff.  All in all, this is just a superb track that has all the elements you want out of a Megadeth track. Cool lyrics, snarling vocals, and a band that is firing on all cylinders. If this track isn’t the best song off the album, it’s certainly in the top three. Simply amazing.

The album’s penultimate track “The Emperor” is the last original Megadeth song on the LP. When I first heard this track, honestly, I was a bit disgusted with it. I found it very poppy and I thought the song sounded like something you would heard on “Super Collider”. It just has that vibe. Though it still has a bit of a dark tone like the rest of the album, this is the only song on “Dystopia” to have an upbeat vibe. But now I must admit, this is just a terrific song. And if I have to be honest, this might be the album’s best track – certainly it’s one of them. The verses are upbeat, the bridge is poppy, and the chorus is so damn catchy and memorable you won’t be able to get them out of your head for weeks. These are the kind of choruses you expect out of Mustaine and he hits a home run with it on this track. And if the chorus doesn’t jump out at you, the solos will. At around the 2:05 mark, Kiko Loureiro starts the soloing frenzy and at around 2:28 Mustaine finishes the madness with a face melting, spine splitting solo that could shatter planets. Very reminiscent of his “Burnt Ice” solo. The tracks ends on a high note with Mustaine singing the super catchy chorus and Loureiro shredding like a maniac. What a track!

The album ends with “Foreign Policy,” a cover of the classic from punk rockers, Fear. It appears it’s not everyone’s favourite but I got to admit that I dig this cover quite a bit. Lyrically, it fits right in with Megadeth and what they’re going for. Musically, obviously it’s very punk rock since it’s a cover from a hardcore punk band. Overall, Megadeth do a commendable job and they’re track record with doing great cover tunes continues. It’s an explosive track. I really like Mustaine’s vocals on this as they fit absolutely perfectly. Good way to end Megadeth’s comeback album.

BONUS TRACKS

“Look Who’s Talking” is one of two bonus tracks that is featured on the iTunes and Best Buy editions of “Dystopia”. To me, it’s very much a bonus track. It’s a good song but I’m not up in arms about this not being on the standard album. I still probably prefer this over “Bullet to the Brain” but again, I’m okay with this not being on the standard album. There’s definitely some bright spots on this number. I really like the riffing that’s going on during the verses. It’s not thrash but it’s mid paced and it’s aggressive. Unfortunately, Mustaine is speaking rather than singing in the verses. However, the second verse and beyond I actually don’t mind it. It’s just during the opening verse Mustaine’s spoken word detracts from the song. But one of the positives with Mustaine’s spoken word verses is that it has some vintage Mustaine bite to it. Another positive this track has is the chorus. I find it really catchy. Sing-along friendly for sure. Overall, it’s a good song with strengths and weaknesses. It’s a grower.

“Last Dying Wish” is the second of two bonus tracks that is featured on the iTunes and Best Buy editions of “Dystopia”. Just like “Look Who’s Talking,” I prefer the track over “Bullet to the Brain” and I’m not upset that it’s not featured on the standard album. This is definitely more of a thrash track. Furious and ferocious riffing with razor sharp execution to go along with face altering solos. And just like “Look Who’s Talking” the verses are done in spoken word. But on this track it sounds like Mustaine is speaking through a PA system. Sometimes I like the use of spoken word, sometimes I don’t. It’s not that I don’t like it here but I was hoping for a little more singing. This could have been a real standout track with the vicious riffing going on during the verses. I like the chorus, once again it’s sing-along friendly. It may have a “Super Collider” feel to it but it’s still catchy. The highlight for sure is (I guess the best word for it is) the interlude. Great riffing going on there. Overall, it’s a good song. It’s also a grower.

“Me Hate You” was released as a bonus track for the Japanese edition of “Dystopia”. Say what you want about the title, this track is straight up fire. Honestly, it’s almost criminal that this was left off the standard album. If it were up to me, I would swap out “Bullet to the Brain” for this track. It ain’t thrash but it’s a mid pace slasher that cuts straight down the middle. Awesome riffage and hooks going on here. Mustaine gives the listener a grade A chorus with the chorus being the highlight of the track as it’s super catchy. Great solo section on this as well. I’m a little disheartened that this didn’t make the cut as it’s a standout track. Awesome song, give it a listen.

The cover of Budgie classic “Melt The Ice Away” is a special bonus track released on Spotify. And Megadeth’s track record of doing amazing covers continues. Honestly, I like this more than the “Foreign Policy” cover that appeared on the standard album. I do understand that “Foreign Policy” is more of a ‘Megadeth’ track than “Melt the Ice Away” but damn is this a killer track. I love every moment of it: the riffs, the solos, the vibe, the vocals. Mustaine does an amazing job vocally on this track. Extremely catchy track. This is a grade A cover tune. Great to see Budgie, a very underrated and under appreciated band, get recognition from a popular metal band not named Metallica. Check this track out if you haven’t heard it yet. Great cover.

As a longtime die hard Megadeth fan I definitely wasn’t alone when I say I was extremely disappointed in “Super Collider”. I will always be excited for new Megadeth but I have to admit I wasn’t chomping at the bit for new Megadeth after that abysmal 2013 release. But that all changed when both Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick departed from the band in November 2014 and rumors of a “Rust In Peace” reunion circulated. I lit up like a Christmas tree and although the reunion didn’t come to fruition, my excitement for a new Megadeth album was bolstered by the suggestion that Megadeth on their new album would return to their roots. Needless to say, I had extremely high expectations for the new album. I wasn’t expecting a “Rust in Peace” 2 but I was expecting something of higher quality than that of their last releases. After the initial first listen of “Dystopia” I admit I was bit let down. Not that it was bad but I was expecting/hoping for something a little better. But after every listen the album got better and better. And now after many many many listens I must say that I love this album. “Dystopia” obliterates Megadeth’s two previous offerings and is indeed not only the perfect comeback album but the perfect statement: Megadeth ain’t going nowhere!

Dave Mustaine, alongside his longtime partner David Ellefson, new sidekick Kiko Loureiro and with the helping hand of Chris Adler has transformed Megadeth into somewhat of a super group resulting in “Dystopia,” Megadeth’s finest hour in several years. The snarl is back, the outrageous riffs are gloriously present, and the poppy metal is absent. When Dave Mustaine is determined and motivated it shows. And it definitely shows on “Dystopia” as Mustaine goes back to Megadeth’s roots which results an unrelenting, unapologetic return to form thrash metal album. Dave Mustaine kept his word at least on this album as he said he would never write a radio song again. And perhaps because of that you can add “Dystopia” to the list of great ‘return to form’ albums for Megadeth. And for me personally, this album is over four years too late. This album is the logical follow up to the critically acclaimed “Endgame” and is everything that both “Th1rt3en” and “Super Collider” was not. “Dystopia” for me is a lot like “The System Has Failed” as both are not Megadeth’s best efforts but still great albums in their own right and have put Megadeth back on the right path. Although “Dystopia” is far from perfect, it’s an album that can get you excited about Megadeth again… something that you couldn’t say about its two predecessors.

RYM Rating: 5/5   Retrospective Rating: 9.5/10 (A +)

Recommendation: If you ever wanted Megadeth to do a thrash album again, this is probably the closest you’ll ever get. Is it a full fledged thrash album? No. But a lot of thrashy moments. A must listen for any Megadeth fan.

3 Favourite Songs: The Emperor, Lying In State, Death From Within.

Megadeth – Super Collider (2013) Review

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Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Chris Broderick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Shawn Drover

“Super Collider” is the fourteenth studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. The album was released by Tradecraft via Universal Records on June 4, 2013. Produced by Johnny K and Dave Mustaine, “Super Collider” received a mixed response from critics. However, ever since its release the album has seen mostly negative reviews from fans and critics alike citing the band’s return to more commercial sounding material, the lyrical content, and Mustaine’s vocal delivery. Despite the lackluster reaction, the album debuted at #6 on the Billboard Charts, shipping 26,000 units in the first week of the album’s release.

“Super Collider” marks the first time since “Cryptic Writings” that the band released more than one album with the same lineup. “Super Collider” keeps the “Th1rt3en” line-up intact as well as employs the same producer in Johnny K. “Super Collider” is an album that came so far out of left field that it completely shocked the Megadeth fan base. In a lot of circles, the album is compared to the band’s most disliked and notorious “Risk” album. “Super Collider” steers away from what Megadeth had been doing for the past decade, instead going the more commercial route. Few far and between is the vicious riffing and the infamous snarling delivery of Mustaine and for the most part, what is present is a laid back slow to mid pace brand of music that could be best described as “pop metal”. An unfortunate misstep that culminated in quite possibly Megadeth’s worst effort to date.

This would be the final album to feature longtime drummer Shawn Drover as well as the last album to feature guitarist Chris Broderick as both departed from the band in November 2014.

The album opens with “Kingmaker,” easily my favourite track on the album. You can say what you want about this album but “Kingmaker” is a ferociously killer track. The song opens with an eerie bass line from David Ellefson before the whole band kicks into overdrive. The main riff during the verses chugs along with an ultra-heavy gallop. The verses are extremely catchy as Mustaine delivers his vocals flawlessly. Same goes for the choruses, although it isn’t the catchiest Megadeth chorus of all time it still is satisfying and keeps the flow of the song moving. It definitely isn’t the most technical Megadeth track you’ll ever hear as for the most part, it’s a pretty simplistic track as far as Megadeth goes. Around the 3:00 mark both Broderick and Mustaine unleash the album’s first guitar solos. I really like the rhythm section with the double kick galloping swagger it has. Easily one of the album’s few highlights. Excellent track, one of my favourites.

Then comes the title track “Super Collider,” the album’s first single. I remember when I first heard this song a few months before the album’s release. Naturally, I was really excited for the next Megadeth album but when I heard this I became a bit worried. This is a song you would find on an album like “Risk”. This track oozes commercial rock. The verses and choruses are as poppy as pop gets. This slow paced rock track is predictable (in structure) and generic as a radio rock track gets. The vocals and lyrics, especially during the choruses, is delivered in a way that makes me wanna shake my head. It’s so poppy and generic, it’s clear they wanted to get a radio hit. Despite this negative review, I do like the song but it’s not what I want to hear from Megadeth. Mustaine admitted that this song was written to prove to the record label that the band could play and write commercially accessible material. You can write and play it Mr. Mustaine but stay away from doing so in the future.

Then comes “Burn!,” a song that I have a love and hate relationship with. The track starts off with super duper heavy guitar lick which leads into a furious shred from Chris Broderick. At this point, it seems like the previous track was just one of those ‘one off’ commercial singles for the record label. But then the verses kick in. Although it’s still heavy, it’s simplistic and a generic riff. On top of it, Mustaine seems to be talking instead of singing. Then there’s the chorus which I have mixed feelings about. Though it happens to be my favourite part of the song and extremely catchy, the lyrics sadden me. “Burn, baby burn… ’cause it feels so good/ Burn, baby burn… like I knew it would” and “Fire, I’ve got the fire/ Fire, burning desire… my desire to burn” is just not good lyricism. A six year old could have written that. Very bland and generic lyricism from a great lyricist. There is a really cool part in this song when Mustaine is ripping a solo and he sings “It burns; yeah, it burns, hotter than hell”. It sounds evil and ominous and for a second I thought I was listening to another song. Overall, it’s a decent song with below par lyricism.

Then there’s “Built For War,” the only song on this album that even comes close to being called a thrash song. I like the vibe on this track and it even has a bit of that venomous Mustaine exchange with his vocals. “Built for war, what do you think your fists are for?” may be cheesy lyrics but I can get behind them. I kind of like them to be honest. I don’t know what it is but the verses just rub me the wrong way. It’s aggressive and bone crunching heavy but it just sounds generic to me. It’s good but it’s not killer. If this song had any momentum, it all went down the tubes around the 2:00 mark with a boring and overlong interlude that lasts for about a minute. The interlude is bland and a bit pointless. The final minute of the track consists of another verse and chorus. Overall it’s not a bad track, it’s decent enough just not one of my favourites. A bit frustrating since the song had potential but was squandered.

Then there’s “Off the Edge,” a track that hurts my heart. This track can appropriately be described as pop metal. Sure, it’s heavy and the chorus is kind of catchy but it’s just so generic. I hate to keep describing songs on this album as generic but unfortunately that’s what a lot of the songs on this album are. This song is just poppy, I don’t know what they were thinking with this one. And the lyrics? “Crazy, I’m going crazy, the world’s gone crazy” drops my jaw. I think Mustaine took some lessons in how to write generic songs from Johnny K. There is a bright spot in the song around the 2:20 mark, a solo section where Mustaine and Chris Broderick get to unleash some of their magic. It actually has a pretty dark vibe. It’s an okay song but it just doesn’t meet my standards of what I would like out of Megadeth. It just doesn’t cut it. Megadeth is better than this plain and simple. I know it, you know it, and Megadeth even knows it.

It is followed by “Dance in the Rain,” another song I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, this is just an incredible song and without a doubt one of the album’s few highlights. On the other hand, the song features Disturbed front man David Draiman. Thanks for that Johnny K! Now if you’re a fan of Disturbed that’s cool but I am not. I can’t stand Disturbed. Fortunately, Draiman doesn’t ruin the song at all as he only sings two verses at the end. The track begins with an eerily dark guitar lick which if I could say so myself is absolutely killer. The opening two verses Mustaine delivers his vocals in spoken word which is okay by me. Mustaine begins to actually sing during the third verse before the chorus. I love the chorus, I find it really catchy. My favourite lyric off the album is featured in this one: ” ‘You have the right to remain silent,’ so shut your mouth”. A bit cheesy but I love it. An absolutely beautifully face altering guitar solo is unleashed by Chris Broderick on this track around the 2:53 mark. Extremely dark, heavy duty track. Great song.

And then “Beginning of Sorrow,” the only original track on the album that the lyrics weren’t completely written by Dave Mustaine as bassist David Ellefson contributed to them. The track begins with a mighty crunchy bass line from Ellefson before the whole band kicks into gear. The chorus is sung before the opening verse. I absolutely dig the hell out of the verses. It has a great headbanging vibe and it’s super catchy. Love the riff but what I love even more is the rhythm section. Shawn Drover actually does a commendable job on this track  (and album) even though he doesn’t get enough credit for a job well done. This is also a standout track for “Junior” as Ellefson’s pummeling bass adds a phenomenal layer to the song. Unfortunately, the chorus practically ruins the track as it disrupts the flow and the awesome vibe the song had going. The chorus, like a lot of stuff on the album, just sounds too poppy and generic for my liking. If not for the chorus, this would have been a standout track. Decent song.

It’s followed by “The Blackest Crow,” an utterly dark ingrained song about loss and depression. I’ve got to admit when I first heard this song I wasn’t a huge fan of it. But I have actually come to really enjoy it. It has grown on me. The first forty seconds of this song has a southern vibe but also an ominous dark tinge to it. The verses are bad ass. I find them extremely catchy and I love how Mustaine delivers his vocals. For the most part, there are no drums during the verses. The reason why I probably didn’t like this track when I first heard it was because of the chorus. And though it kind of has a generic chorus in terms of delivery, I very much dig it now. The track also features the use of slide guitars played by Dave Mustaine. Despite some flaws, overall it’s a pretty good song. It isn’t great or mind blowing or anything like that but it’s a good song on a lackluster album. This truly is a haunting track and it’s one of a very few on this album that has a pulse, a heart, and a soul.

“Forget to Remember” in terms of structure and vibe is a lot like a lot of the songs on this album. It’s predictable, it’s pretty generic, and it could best be described as pop metal. But the difference between this track and the others is that I really like this track a lot. It’s weird isn’t it? I can rag on the other tracks for being generic and poppy but this track I praise. Whether it’s simplistic and generic or not, this is just a great song. The reason why I love this track is probably because of the verses. That vibe is sublime, it’s super catchy and Mustaine delivers his vocals flawlessly in my opinion. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus as it’s pretty dull and bland but I love the verses so much it more than makes up for it. The solos after the choruses are awesome as well as it fits the song’s tone and vibe perfectly. Mustaine and Broderick get a thumbs up for that. And around the 3:22 mark, a great moment in the track with the “They made the lock and broke the key, the culprit was mercury” line. Extremely catchy. Some may disagree but this is one of the album’s highlights. Love this track.

It is followed by “Don’t Turn Your Back…,” the album’s penultimate track. I applaud the effort in trying to give the fans a vicious, pummeling metal track but this is just not a good song. A swing and a big time miss. The song starts off with a killer bluesy intro done by Mr. Chris Broderick. Then at around the 0:40 second mark it gets ferociously heavy as a skull stomping riff is hurled through the speakers. It only seems to get better when the drums kick in as it’s thrashing and bone bruising heavy. Unfortunately, everything goes down hill when Mustaine’s vocals come into play. I’m the biggest fan of Mustaine’s vocals in the world but on this track it really didn’t do the song any favors. Mustaine does more speaking than singing on the verses. The vocals just really make me think that although the guitars are super heavy, the riffs are also generic and super bland. The chorus doesn’t make the song any better nor worse but it adds to the overall blandness. Best part of the song is the closing guitar solo provided by Chris Broderick. The ending of the song is actually pretty good. Overall, it’s one of my least favourite songs on the album. I don’t hate it but I’m not a huge fan either.

And the album closes with “Cold Sweat,” a cover of the Thin Lizzy classic. This is just a great song no matter what. Mustaine and the boys did a great job with it. On one hand, this is one of the album’s highlights. On the other hand unfortunately, the fact that a cover song is one of the album’s best isn’t a great sign. The fact that this smokes over 90 percent of Megadeth’s original material really goes to show that this isn’t a strong album. Great song, good choice to cover this track and a great way to end a disappointing album.

Ever since Megadeth’s 2004 return with “The System Has Failed” the band, in my opinion, have released better albums with every release. From 2004 to 2009, Megadeth released three phenomenal albums with TSHF, “United Abominations” and “Endgame”. Unfortunately, that trend didn’t continue with 2011’s “Th1rt3en”. It wasn’t a bad album but very much disappointing especially coming off the critically acclaimed “Endgame”. I don’t want to place blame on just one person but my personal opinion on why “Th1rt3en” and “Super Collider” have been so lackluster is because of producer Johnny K. Johnny K is best known for producing such acts as Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, and Staind. Why was he producing a Megadeth record? Johnny K seamlessly turned Megadeth into a generic metal band. Megadeth have always been unique but there’s been material on the last two albums that could have been written by anyone. Though Johnny K co-wrote six songs on “Th1rt3en” and nothing on “Super Collider” I feel his direction misguided the band. Like I said I can’t say these albums are all of Johnny K’s fault, Dave Mustaine surely had his hand on every track but (and this is a bold statement) Johnny K is to Megadeth as what Bob Rock was to Metallica. Thankfully, this would be the last Megadeth album Johnny K would produce.

When I first sat down and listened to “Super Collider” I was in disbelief. My initial reaction to the album was that it was ‘generic’ and ‘uninspired’ and a band that went on autopilot during the writing and recording of the record. Mustaine’s lyricism hits rock bottom here as it is easily the weakest lyrics he has ever written. Vocally, there’s a lot more speaking then there is singing. But here is the thing about “Super Collider” from my perspective. Though I do agree that the negative attention that the album has got is warranted, I don’t feel the album has gotten a fair shake either. Yes, it’s not a great album and probably their worst effort to date but it is an album that gets better after every listen once you get comfortable with it. Sure, we all know this ain’t a thrash album or what you expect out of a Megadeth record but if you can approach this album with a positive mindset you might come to see that “Super Collider” isn’t as atrocious as most people will lead you to believe.

RYM Rating: 4/5   Retrospective Rating: 8.5/10 (A)

Recommendation: For the true die hard fans. One of the last Megadeth albums you should check out. Unfortunately great memorable tracks are few far in between.

3 Favourite Songs: Kingmaker, Dance in the Rain, Forget to Remember.

Megadeth – Risk (1999) Review

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Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Marty Friedman
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Jimmy DeGrasso

“Risk” is the eighth studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. The album was released by Capitol Records on August 31, 1999. Produced by Dann Huff and Dave Mustaine, “Risk” received a mixed response from critics. However, it alienated hardcore fans and the album received backlash due to the band’s departure from their heavy thrash metal roots to a more commercial, pop rock sound. The album debuted at #16 on the Billboard Charts and was later certified gold in 1999 for selling half a million copies.

After the critical and commercial success of Megadeth’s previous release “Cryptic Writings” that featured a perfect mix of heavy metal and commercial hard rock, Dave and the boys decided to go more down that road and try their luck at radio. Mustaine felt if the sound/songs on “Cryptic Writings” worked, even more of that would work on “Risk”. The band’s manager, Bud Prager, who received several song writing credits on “Risk” wanted Megadeth to do an album that made other bands think, “why didn’t we think of that?”. Absent on the album is the vicious riffing and snarling vocals of the past and present is the melodic, pop rock sound. The title of the album stems from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich who criticized Dave Mustaine in the press for not taking enough ‘risks’ in his music.

This is the first album to feature Jimmy DeGrasso on drums, replacing long time Megadeth drummer Nick Menza. It is also the last album to feature legendary guitarist Marty Friedman as he departed in early 2000.

The notorious “Risk” album opens with a track entitled “Insomnia,” a song bursting at the seams, oozing in radio friendly hard rock. It ain’t a far stretch to say that this song could have appeared on their previous album “Cryptic Writings” but it seems this song is more commercial, the sound even more “poppy-er” than ever before. However, it’s still heavy duty hard rock with shades of tinted darkness. The verses aren’t bad, decently heavy and satisfying enough. When you listen to the choruses, it’s very radio friendly and it’s clear Megadeth are trying to go down that path. Some parts of the song (the pre-chorus for example) I’m not the biggest fan of the production, for better or worse, it has a techno or ‘electronic’ tinge to it. There is a heavy duty bridge/breakdown about halfway through the song where Mustaine lets loose a solo over. The “weird notes” at the beginning were the last notes Marty Friedman ever recorded as a member of Megadeth.

What follows is one of my favourite Megadeth tracks “Prince of Darkness,” a song that doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. I don’t know if it’s because it is on Megadeth’s most hated and disrespectful album or not, but this song always gets overlooked. This is a killer track. The song begins with a monstrous bass line from David Ellefson and Mustaine talking about the evilness of the devil. Around the 1:20 mark, the guitars kick in right before the fury is unleashed. The first verse is just incredible with a heavy duty riff and Mustaine delivering excellent pinpoint vocals. Mustaine belting out “More evil than violence!” certainly gets my attention. The verses are great as well as the choruses but one of the bright spots is the post-chorus with the furious breakdown from the fiery pits of hell. Mustaine’s vocals have his signature bite to ’em on this banger. It’s catchy, it’s heavy, it’s relentless, it’s a mammoth of a track. Who said “Risk” is just commercial, radio friendly pop rock? Well, this track spits in the face of that claim.

“Enter the Arena” is a short 44 second intro to “Crush ‘Em” where Mustaine chants “Crush! Crush! Crush! Crush ‘Em” for the entire duration over a slow and simplistic heavy metal riff.

Then there’s the notorious “Crush ‘Em,” the album’s lead single. Where do we start? Well, when hearing the albums “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?” or “Rust In Peace” did you ever think there would come a time where Megadeth would do a disco song? No? Unfortunately, that is precisely what they did with this song. And thanks to Megadeth’s then-manager Bud Prager who suggested Megadeth do such a track (he also received a song writing credit). Do I hate this song? No, I don’t. Ellefson’s has a thumping bass line throughout which is a positive and the chorus is actually pretty damn catchy. The production just oozes techno, disco, radio pop rock which ain’t a good thing. The production falls flat due to disagreements between members, producers, and management on the way the song should sound. The track is way too complicated to be what it’s trying to be, merely a sport’s anthem. Too many cooks in the kitchen was the track’s down fall. I don’t find this track as atrocious as most people and on some days I can really get into this track. But obviously, this is far from Megadeth at their best.

It is followed by “Breadline” and I am 100 percent truthful when I say this, it’s not only my favourite track off of this album but one of my all time favourite Megadeth songs. To me, when people think of Megadeth’s “Risk” this is one of the tracks they think of first. There isn’t a trace of the outrageous riffs and venomous vocals of the old days. Instead, it’s a straight up soft, radio pop rock track. So, if it’s a soft radio rock song, why do I love this song so much? It’s just a beautiful sounding song. I don’t care if you hate the album and sure this isn’t what you typically want to hear out of a Megadeth song but take it for what it is: a beautiful rock song. I love the verses but I absolutely dig the hell out of the choruses. It just makes me happy and puts me in a good mood whenever I listen to this track. Awesome solo by Mustaine on this track that fits the overall tone of the song perfectly as well as great solo fills done by Marty Friedman. This song is misunderstood in my opinion. This is an awesome, awesome track. Try to look past the fact this ain’t 80’s Megadeth.

“The Doctor is Calling” is one of those songs that frustrates me because it’s a song that doesn’t live up to its full potential. It just has so much promise but ultimately falls flat. The intro is killer with a super heavy as hell riff that is equal parts dark and eerie and it bleeds right into the phenomenal opening verse. At this point I’m thinking this is probably the album’s best track. Everything is going great as the verse is heavy with Mustaine providing a perfect vocal melody. Then everything goes awry when the chorus begins. It’s a let down and the perfect flow the song has goes straight out the window. One of the coolest parts of the song is after the 2nd verse/chorus where there’s this cool spoken word section followed by a ripping good solo by Marty Friedman as he shreds the face off the planet. Then the chorus is repeated and the track is ended in a very lackluster way. Overall, it’s a great song with a lackluster chorus that almost ruins it for me.

Then there’s “I’ll Be There,” a track Mustaine called the song of the people of Buenos Aires, Argentina on the “That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires” CD/DVD. This is a nice little rock song. Incredible vocals performed by Mustaine here as he’s signing his heart out. A lot of guitar textures done on this one. It’s not the heaviest song nor is it the softest track on the album as it lands somewhere in the middle. The verses are nice and choruses are kind of catchy but I really dig the bridge/pre-chorus, it’s just sung so beautifully. Around the 3:20 mark, the “ohhhhhh oh ohhhhh oh oh” part is especially pretty cool and gets the listener to kind of chant or hum along with the track. It’s an upbeat track for sure. Respectable song but I’m sure it doesn’t win over any of the thrash heads.

It is followed by a track entitled “Wanderlust,” one of the more under appreciated tracks that are featured on this album. The track begins with an eerily dark sounding guitar lick accompanied by a stomping bass drum provided by DeGrasso as Mustaine grimly delivers his vocals. It slowly builds to an extremely catchy chorus with the pace, tempo, and heaviness ratcheted up. The chorus most certainly is the highlight of the track, a truly underrated and under appreciated chorus. The breakdown around the 2:50 is also phenomenal as Ellefson delivers a super slick bass line and then before you know it, the band is really starting to fly. Some great solo fills done by Marty Friedman here. It may be radio friendly but damn is this a great track.

Then there’s “Ecstasy,” a super poppy, soft rock, water downed, radio-friendly track. This track along with “Breadline” and “Crush ‘Em” are probably the songs people think of when they think of “Risk”. But I’ll be 100% honest, I absolutely love this track. Sure, the heavy distortion, furious picking, and snarling vocals that the fans love can’t be found whatsoever on this track. Instead, we have an ultra-soft, lighthearted track. Awesome drumming from DeGrasso on this one, great drummer. You may love it or hate it but damn does Dave Mustaine provide some tremendous vocals on this. He’s really singing his heart out here. And for me, what takes this track over the top is the phenomenal, catchy as hell chorus. Believe it or not, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It might not be a bone crushing, thrasher’s delight but this is a beautiful song with a lot of heart. Awesome track.

“Seven” was originally entitled “Anti-Hero,” then “Hornet Fuck” before the title “Seven” was settled on. This is one of the heaviest songs on the album. It is also probably the purest as this is how Megadeth sounded like without all the sound effects and samples thrown in. The drumming is outstanding on this track. Jimmy DeGrasso doesn’t nearly get enough respect for the work he put in during his time with Megadeth as he should which is a shame. It still may have a commercial vibe to it but nonetheless it’s dark and heavy. Parts of the track also have a real rock ‘n roll vibe as well which is cool. Catchy as hell choruses, kind of has an ominous feel to them. Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine trade off splitting lead solos right before the song’s breakdown where Mustaine spits out the seven deadly sins. During that time, a monstrous funky bass line is unleashed by David Ellefson. The track ends with the band jamming its way to a glorious conclusion.

“Time” was a concept split into two songs, first being “Time: The Beginning” and the second “Time: The End” as the music were very closely related however they couldn’t possibly be further apart, according to Dave Mustaine. “Time: The Beginning” is more of a classy ballad that still has the eerie Megadeth quality to it. The track has a dark tinge to it and overall it’s a really depressing track. The vocal melody is phenomenal and once again Dave Mustaine is lacing the track with more incredible vocals. Mustaine really showed his potential as a vocalist on this album but never got the respect and attention it should have garnered. Once again, awesome solo fills done by Marty Friedman. It’s a delicate, depressing yet soothing track that is a real standout. Awesome track.

And Finally, “Time: The End” closes the notorious “Risk” album. Now this song has some vintage Megadeth bite to it. The track starts off with a super heavy, ultra-crunchy guitar riff that bleeds into the opening riff where Mustaine spits out some vicious vocals. Around the 50 second mark, the song hits a bit of a lull before the world is destroyed by an earth shattering guitar solo by Mustaine followed by a just as genius solo by Marty Friedman as the song and album fades into the sunset.

Some people, Dave Mustaine included, believe that if “Risk” was released under a Dave Mustaine solo project or anything not called Megadeth that the majority of people would have liked the album. Some believe that others just can’t get pass the idea of Megadeth doing a radio friendly, commercial rock album and that because that’s what “Risk” precisely is, most people hate the album. I can’t say I disagree with that sentiment because realistically most people hate this album because they see it as “selling out” and Megadeth abandoning their thrash metal heritage. If those people could just get by the fact that this ain’t suppose to be a “Rust In Peace 2” and just listen to the album for what it is, they would be pleasantly surprised by the quality of good material that inherent the album.

Megadeth’s  artistic approach on “Risk” was greatly influenced by management and people around them, whispering in their ear as “Risk” is the most experimental album in the Megadeth discography and is the furthest departure from their thrash metal roots than any record they have ever done, before or after. On this album, Megadeth try to prove that they’re more than just a (thrash) metal band as they expand their horizons and explore new and unfamiliar avenues. It’s an extremely unique album, especially in the Megadeth catalog, and as for myself would like to commend Dave Mustaine and Megadeth on trying something different and experimenting with their sound. I think it took a lot balls as it was certainly a huge “risk” for them to release such an album that could potentially (which it eventually did) cause a fan backlash. The major downfall of “Risk” is that there were too many cooks in the kitchen. However, I absolutely love this album. I always have and always will stand up for “Risk”.

RYM Rating: 4.5/5   Retrospective Rating: 9.25/10 (A +)

Recommendation: For the true and diehard Megadeth fans. Don’t expect another “Rust In Peace,” take it for what it is: a radio friendly rock album.

3 Favourite Songs: Breadline, Prince Of Darkness, Ecstasy.

Megadeth – The World Needs A Hero (2001) Review

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Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Al Pitrelli
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Jimmy DeGrasso

“The World Needs A Hero” is the ninth studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. The album was released by Sanctuary Records on May 12, 2001. Produced by Bill Kennedy and Dave Mustaine, “The World Needs A Hero” was regarded as a return to roots record, although it received generally mediocre reviews from critics. The album entered the Billboard Top 200 Chart at #16, selling 61,000 copies in its first week of release.

The 1990’s ended with Megadeth releasing the notorious and roundly hated “Risk” which alienated hardcore fans and critics alike and the aftermath saw Marty Friedman, who had been Megadeth’s lead axeman for a decade, exit the band. After the critical and fan backlash of “Risk” it urged the band to get away from radio friendly rock songs and to explore their hard hitting roots again. It culminated in “The World Needs A Hero” and though it still has a commercial feel, it’s Megadeth getting back on the right track and finding their darker, heavy side that had been largely absent in its predecessor. The band had touted this album as the antidote to “Risk” and bassist David Ellefson claimed their goal for this album was “to make a full on, slamming metal record.” Though critically it wasn’t met with the greatest of praise, it was Megadeth’s first step in their return to form.

The is the first and only album to feature Al Pitrelli on guitar, replacing longtime guitarist Marty Friedman. It is the second and final album to feature Jimmy DeGrasso on drums and bassist David Ellefson’s final Megadeth album until his return in 2010 and the subsequent “Th1rt3en”.

The album begins with one of my personal favourite Megadeth tunes, “Disconnect,” a disgustingly underrated and overlooked track in the Megadeth catalog. After the critical and commercial disaster of their previous album, Megadeth waste no time in letting the listener know that they’re bringing crushing heaviness back into the fold. From a technical standpoint, the music is downright simplistic. But just because it’s simplistic, doesn’t mean it’s not killer. It’s dark and ominously heavy and though it isn’t thrash, it puts Megadeth back on the right track with this satisfyingly heavy opening track. Great vocals from Mr. Mustaine and damn is this song ever catchy. Also, it’s the first time you get to hear the infusion of new blood Al Pitrelli as he gets to let loose some fury. Around the 2:20 mark, a pretty cool bassline is unleashed from Mr. David Ellefson. Awesome track.

Then comes the title track “The World Needs A Hero,” and if I could say so myself, it’s a weird track. The track starts with heavy palm-muted riffage and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso thumping away on his kit. It is met by a decent bassline from Mr. Ellefson as it leaks into the opening verse. Rather than being sung, the verse is done in spoken word. In the pre-chorus a woman’s voice is heard over a intercom or telephone of some sort, followed by a Mustaine response. The chorus is catchy, well-sung by Mustaine. Around the 2 minute mark, a damn fine killer riff is unleashed followed by chaos as Mustaine and new axe-man Pitrelli trade blistering solos. As the song hits its conclusion, it has built up a mighty fine pace. Overall, it ain’t the best song and although it’s a bit strange, it has its moments and it’s a decent enough track.

The album’s lead single “Moto Psycho,” is a song that I have sort of mixed feelings about. The song starts off with a galloping heavy riff before it’s met with thunderous drums from Mr. Jimmy DeGrasso. The verses are decent enough, gun metal grey for sure. The pre-chorus and chorus of the song is where the song loses it in my opinion. In my honest assessment, it could be best described as pop metal. But at the same time, it’s still damn heavy and Megadeth are firing at all cylinders here or at least they’re trying to. Lots of great solo fills done by Al Pitrelli on this track. Overall, it has some nice parts here and there and it’s a decent track. Though it’s not my favourite Megadeth track, I’ll take this over a lot of other bands’ material.

It is followed by one of the album’s best tracks if not the album’s best track, “1000 Times Goodbye,” a song running over 6 minutes in length. The song has a slow build up before it eventually kicks into the verses about a minute in. The intro guitar riff had been around for quite some time as the riff had been part of the “Millennium of the Blind” demo on the “Youthanasia” album. This song is a mid pace wrecker, slashing necks, counting bodies, and taking names. The riff in the verses is vintage Dave Mustaine. A woman’s voice from an answering machine is heard throughout the song. I’m usually not a fan of such a thing but in this case it doesn’t hurt or ruin the song in anyway so I’m okay with it. The track is all around heavy with excellent riffs and catchy melodies. Around the 4 minute mark is an awesome solo break as Mustaine lets loose an impressive face-altering blistering guitar solo over galloping heavy riffage. And that leads into the final climax of the track which is probably the best part of the song. The woman’s voice and Mustaine are going back and forth with the voice ending a relationship and Mustaine belting out “Goodbye! 1000 Times”. Awesome, awesome track.

Then comes “Burning Bridges,” a song that was played at most shows during the tour support for this album. The song starts off with a dark eerie intro before it’s met with crushing metal guitar as it launches into the opening verse. The verses are ultra-heavy and the drums are murderous. The bridge/pre-chorus ratchets up the pace a bit but the whole track is kept at a slow to mid tempo throughout. The choruses are more melodic and kind of catchy. Around the 3:30 mark chaos ensues as Mustaine and Pitrelli trade off lead solos, not the album’s best solo work but still good nonetheless. I really like the sound of Mustaine’s vocals on this one. It’s a bone-bruising metal track and although it’s not the most memorable Megadeth song, it’s a very nice addition to this album.

Then it’s “Promises,” one of my all time favourite Megadeth tracks and the only Megadeth song to feature writing contributions from Al Pitrelli. Some people think this would be a song that could/should have been on 1999’s “Risk” but to me this is just the ballad song that happened to appear on this album. This is a beautifully, depressing written song. The soft and melodic intro with the beautifully delicate vocals delivered by Mustaine is just phenomenal. The pre-chorus and chorus get a bit heavier and in my honest opinion it is some of the most catchy and beautiful moments from any Megadeth song, ever. The pre-chorus/chorus simply are divine and godly. To each their own but if you call yourself a Megadeth fan and you don’t like this song, shame on you. Absolutely incredible track and my favourite off of the album.

It is followed by “Recipe For Hate… Warhorse,” a song which could be best described as ‘filler’ as it’s a very unmemorable track. It also seems to be a forgotten track and not just in the terms of this album but Megadeth’s catalog, period. The song is split into two sections, the “Recipe For Hate” section and then of course the “Warhorse” section. “Recipe For Hate” is ominously dark with a slower pace and is sung in spoken word. It also has a few beautiful ‘classical’ guitar leads done by Al Pitrelli which adds to the overall dark vibe. A Pitrelli solo leads nicely into the “Warhorse” section around the 2:20 mark. The guitars are heavier and distorted and the tempo and pace is upped. Around the 3:25 mark, Mustaine unleashes a killer riff that results in heavy metal Armageddon as Mustaine and Pitrelli go back and forth trading off blistering solos, charging it’s way to a chaotic conclusion.  “Warhorse” definitely ain’t Megadeth’s finest hour but it’s kind of thrashy and it sees Megadeth going down the right path. Not a bad song, not their best either but it sure has its moments.

“Losing My Senses” is a song that gets lumped in with others that people consider ‘filler’. For me, I disagree. Sure, this isn’t one of Megadeth’s best song but it’s heavy, catchy, and overall it’s a neat song. The track begins with Mustaine singing over a pretty cool guitar lick. It takes about a whole minute before the whole band comes into the airwaves, just before the chorus. I absolutely love the vocal performance from Mustaine as he does a commendable job. What I like about this track is that even though it kind of has a dark feeling to it, it also has an upbeat vibe going on as well. Around the 3:10 mark, Pitrelli infuses the track with his own flavor as he lets loose a fine solo although it’s not anything earth shattering. Like I said above, it ain’t Megadeth’s best but it’s a damn good song.

And then comes one of the album’s most famous and memorable tracks “Dread And The Fugitive Mind,” a song that was first originally heard on the compilation “Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years” released in October 2000. The track is similar in vain to their classic track “Sweating Bullets” as during the verses, the band plays the riff and stops briefly. During that brief silence, Mustaine performs his vocals and when his vocals stops, the music kicks back in which is repeated throughout both verses. One of the bright spots on this smoker of a track is the lyricism. Absolutely spot on, vintage Dave Mustaine lyrics. Around the 2 minute mark, a heavy as hell monstrous breakdown is unleashed and one thing is for sure, necks have been snapped over the bombardment of heaviness that has taken place. Mustaine and Pitrelli trade solos as the track charges its way to its rapturous, apocalyptic conclusion.

“Silent Scorn” is short instrumental piece, clocking in under 2 minutes. This track has been used a lot in Megadeth’s live performances after the encore when the band says goodnight to the crowd. For example, “Silent Scorn” can be heard on the “That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires” CD/DVD as the band is saying goodnight. It’s a cool instrumental with darkness woven into the song’s fabric. This would be something you would hear right before the apocalypse begins. This would for sure be on the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Great little piece and it also features the use of trumpets.

Then comes “Return To Hangar” the sequel or part two to the Megadeth classic “Hangar 18”. Obviously, you can’t replicate the legendary first track but here is Megadeth returning to the well and drawing fresh water. The lyrics to the bridge/chorus in “Hangar 18” is present in this track, which is a cool throwback to the mighty original. The big difference between this and “Hangar 18” besides completely different music of course is that “Return to Hangar” is far more simplistic in terms of writing compared to the intricate complexity that was showcased in “Hangar 18”. The structure is similar though: verse/bridge/verse/bridge/shred til the song’s conclusion. It’s an ultra-heavy, manic destroyer that helps the fans forget the “Risk” experiment and remember the good ‘ole “Rust In Peace” days. Awesome track.

The grand finale is a track entitled “When,” the longest song in Megadeth’s history, running over 9 minutes in length. The guitar lick used in the beginning is eerily similar (actually the same) to a lick used near the beginning of Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu” which Dave Mustaine co-wrote. Clean guitar is heard throughout the opening couple minutes and is accompanied by heavy distortion. Eventually the heavy distortion takes over as the clean guitar disappears. The opening couple of minutes is extremely dark and Mustaine’s vocals have his signature bite to them. Around the 3 minute mark the clean guitar is gone and there is pounding, sledgehammer heavy guitar and thunderous drums as it interludes into the final 5 and half minutes of the track. What ensues is a homage to Diamond Head’s classic “Am I Evil?” track, according to Dave Mustaine. It’s an absolute killer riff and could be the heaviest section on the entire album. And my God does Mustaine kill it on the vocals. The final 3 minute is just galloping hell fire heavy metal and Mustaine showcasing his solo skills. The guitar lick from the beginning comes back accompanied with some heavy distortion as the album reaches its conclusion. Awesome track.

“The World Needs A Hero” is an album, that in my opinion, gets a little too much hate and in turn, a lot of incredible tracks get overlooked. When this album gets talked about by either fans or critics, the word “filler” gets used. That’s a bit unfair. Sure, there are songs that can be considered “filler” but that takes away from the incredible tracks that make up this album. It might not be Megadeth’s best album and yes it might be one of their worst albums but that doesn’t mean “The World Needs A Hero” isn’t capable of delivering great tracks and memorable moments. The album is littered with vintage Megadeth moments featuring razor sharp heavy metal riffage, blistering solos, snarling vocals with bite, and fierce lyricism oozing venom and spitting skepticism.

“This record was written in spite of all the people who tried to turn us into an alternative pop machine,” according to Dave Mustaine. And although “The World Needs A Hero” may not be the comeback record that everyone wanted from the mighty Megadeth, it’s an album that got them back on the right path so they could unleash their true comeback record, 2004’s “The System Has Failed”. This album was the stepping stone in order to accomplish that. There may be some lackluster moments here and there but most of the time Dave and the boys are giving the fans what they so desperately wanted on their previous album(s): buzz saw hell fire heavy metal.  This is an extremely under appreciated album.

RYM Rating: 4.5/5   Retrospective Rating: 9.25/10 (A +)

Recommendation: It’s definitely not the first Megadeth album you should check out but you should check it out though. It’s not nearly as bad as people think it is. Sure, it has some “filler” but it also has a lot of great, underrated tracks.

3 Favourite Songs: Promises, 1000 Times Goodbye, Disconnect.

Megadeth – Th1rt3en (2011) Review

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Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Chris Broderick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Shawn Drover

“Th1rt3en” is the thirteenth studio album by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. The album was released by Roadrunner Records on November 1, 2011. Produced by Johnny K and Dave Mustaine, “Th1rt3en” received generally positive reviews from critics upon its release. However, retrospective reviews since its release are generally negative to mixed. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 42,000 copies in its first week of release.

“Th1rt3en” is the first album since 2001’s “The World Needs A Hero” to feature founding bassist David Ellefson. It follows the critically successful “Endgame” that was released two years prior. In addition to new material that was written for the album, “Th1rt3en” sees the band re-work several older songs, some of which were previously released as demos or bonus material on other albums. Also, the album features songs that were intended to appear on video game soundtracks. The album features three Grammy nominated tracks with “Sudden Death,” “Public Enemy No. 1,” and “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” being nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively. The album keeps in line with previous Megadeth releases of the 21st century by abandoning radio pop rock and replacing it with hard hitting heavy metal.

This is the third album to feature Shawn Drover on drums, the second to feature Chris Broderick on guitar, and the first album in ten years to feature founding Megadeth bassist David Ellefson who returned to the band in February 2010.

The album begins with “Sudden Death,” a song which was first heard in the “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock” video game. The furiously dark, chaos ridden opener is laced with shredding lead guitar solos from beginning to end. The track is ferocious, an epic bombardment of thrashing heavy metal. The rhythm section is crushing, the leads are out of this world and there’s a speed frenzied, frenetic atmosphere and pace to the album’s opening track. A good title for this song as it has an unpredictable energy. A powerfully heavy track that surges to a conclusion the same way it began, with a blistering solo over heavy distorted guitars. An awesome way to open the album.

The album’s lead single “Public Enemy No. 1,” one of my favourites off of the record. I first heard this song well before the album’s release on Youtube, a fan recorded video of Megadeth performing this song live. It wasn’t great quality but when I heard the chorus, the first thing I said was, “This will be nominated for a Grammy”. And I was right because in 2012 it was nominated for a Grammy. Now this is a great song. The track has drawn comparison to “Tears In A Vial” in terms of the vibe and the chuggy galloping riffs. For me, this might be the album’s best track and it’s mainly due to the song’s chorus. The chorus is so damn catchy, up there with Megadeth’s all time catchy choruses. How Mustaine sings it is killer. The track also gets laced by some blistering solos from Mr. Chris Broderick. Just an all around phenomenal song.

It is followed by another single “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” which also happens to be another Grammy nominated song. This is a pretty cool song. It has a real punk rock vibe to it. Shawn Drover bombards his drum kit and Mustaine venomously spits out his vocals on this heavy, mid paced banger. A lot to like about this but for me the choruses really shine through on this one as you get some vintage Dave Mustaine vocals. It’s not my favourite from the album but it’s far from the worst. It’s got the aggression, it’s got the ear piecing guitar solos, it’s got the snarling vocals, it’s an all around fun song with some great moments.

Then comes one of my top three favourites off of the album “We the People,” an extraordinary, political fueled mayhem of a track. The intro/song has an imminent doom vibe to it. It’s a track that would be featured on the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Extremely aggressive track that has the signature Mustaine bite to it. Not what you would call thrash but it has excellent palm muted heavy as hell mid pace riffs. Pretty cool lyrics and it’s vintage 90’s Megadeth. Absolutely love the chorus – Mustaine is a God at writing/singing catchy choruses and this one is no different. Phenomenal song and one of the album’s highlights.

Then there’s the track entitled “Guns, Drugs, & Money,” a song that I have grown to dig. When I first heard the song I thought it was simplistic, generic, and a bit lazy. But now I have got to admit, it’s a pretty rocking tune. The verses are cool and I don’t want to say it’s rock ‘n roll but it kind of gives off that vibe; you just can’t help but bob your head along with it. The bridge is ultra-heavy that delivers a frenetic pace. The chorus isn’t bad but it’s not exactly great either. It’s definitely not the typical catchy chorus that Dave Mustaine usually writes. It’s a heavy hard hitting tune and overall it’s a pretty decent song. Thumbs up.

Whats follows is the balls to the walls thrasher “Never Dead,” the main soundtrack to the video game “NeverDead”. For me, the one thing that I don’t like about this song is the pointless almost one minute intro, that ran about thirty seconds too long. But when the song finally gets going, it’s worth it. This is a thrash song, no question about it. The riffing is furious, going a million miles an hour. The rhythm section crushes with Shawn Drover annihilating his kit and going to work with his double bass. You got to love Mustaine’s vocals on this, so ominous and angry. The chorus is satisfying enough but the verses really shine the brightest with the ferocious riffing and vocals taking it above and beyond. When you get a track like this from Megadeth in the 21st century you have to be happy… I sure am.

“New World Order” is one of the reasons why I think a lot of people aren’t to fond of this album. And it’s not because the song sucks, it’s because this song has been around for a long time already. It was released on the Japanese release of “Hidden Treasures,” the “A Tout Le Monde” single, and the remixed and remastered version of “Youthanasia” Recorded in the “Countdown to Extinction” era,  it was also originally given to Chicago thrash band Zoetrope for their 1993 album “Mind Over Splatter”. So, this song has been around for awhile. But to the song though, it’s an amazing song. I always wondered why this was never on an actual studio album and I guess Mustaine and the boys thought so too. Besides a fresh production and of course a re-recording of all the parts, the song didn’t get re-worked. The song definitely isn’t any better than it was before. The song has great lyrics, phenomenal riffs, thrashy in parts, and catchier than hell itself. Always loved and appreciated this banger of a track.

Then comes one of my least favourites off of the album “Fast Lane,” a song that has its moments but overall falls a bit short for me. The first word that comes to mind when describing this track is ‘generic’ – both musically and lyrically. The song isn’t bad because it definitely has its moments but it kind of comes off as uninspired. The track is heavy, no doubt it, and even has some punk rock vibe to it especially during the opening moments. The track’s highlight is Mustaine’s vocals. Love how he spits out those vocals venomously, specifically during the verses though he does a fine job on the choruses as well. The last thirty seconds is also a highlight when it kicks into speed frenzy mode as the track races to its conclusion. Overall, it’s not a bad song but far from the album’s best. It’s a pretty forgettable track.

Then there’s “Black Swan,” a track that was released four years prior as a bonus track for 2007’s “United Abominations” album. I think this is a great song and I like the version on UA a lot better than this one. It was perfect as far as I’m concerned. And since it was released just a short time before, I find the decision to put this song on “Th1rt3en” a bit confusing. Although, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t get to hear the original and since it’s such a great song, I guess the decision to put it on an actual studio album for everyone to hear was probably the right decision. But for a hardcore Megadeth fan like I am, I’ve heard the track many times before and I loved it as is, so to have this on an album instead of new material, I wasn’t crazy about it. It has some differences than the original like the blistering solo in the intro for one. It’s a heavy, even melodic, extremely dark mid-paced slasher of a track. Great choruses on this one, catchy and memorable. A deeply haunting song sung beautifully.

And then “Wrecker,” a song I would consider one of my least favourites off of the album. I put this song in the same category as “Fast Lane” as both songs are pretty generic metal songs especially by Megadeth standards. When I first saw the title I had high hopes for this track but it didn’t quite live up to the hype. The main issue I have with this song is the dime a dozen lyrics. Mustaine is better than this. Musically, it’s a pretty cool song. It’s kind of thrashy, a good mid to fast tempo and it’s bone snapping heavy. Mustaine still delivers his vocals with the anger and vitriol that made them legendary. I dig the chorus quite a bit, it’s energetic and kind of catchy. Not bad but there’s better tracks on the album.

If you aren’t aware “Millennium of the Blind” started off as a short two minute demo idea that was featured on the remix and remastered version of “Youthanasia”. But, this is basically a new song. Around the 2:48 mark of the song is the part that Megadeth demoed back in the day. I like this song quite a bit and I’m glad they turned the idea into a full-fledged song. The track starts off with Chris Broderick shredding his fretboard followed by Mustaine signing over clean guitar. It’s far from thrash but it’s super duper dark. A lot of clean guitar here, specifically during the verses. Excellent lead work and some mighty fine vocals from Mr. Mustaine. All and all, great track.

And then comes one of my favourites off of the album “Deadly Nightshade,” a real underrated track. There’s just so much to love about this track. The riffing, though simplistic, is gun metal grey and hellfire heavy. The intro riff, which also is the riff in the chorus, is just so bad ass and killer. The riff in the verses gallop heavily in ultra aggression. The bridge slows down in tempo but not in heaviness and aggression with vitriol oozing out of Mustaine’s vocals. The chorus is just unmistakably remarkable. In its simplest terms, the chorus is just catchy as hell. The combination of that amazing riff and the way Mustaine delivers his vocals make for a volatile combination. This hauntingly dark and sinister track is a standout and one of the album’s highlights.

And the album’ grand finale “13,” the title track and album’s longest song, clocking in at almost six minute running time. This is just a well written and well arranged song. It has a great mixture of clean guitar (as the track features acoustic guitar) as well as heavier, distorted guitar. The track has an ominous vibe to it with darkness ingrained in its fabric. I absolutely love the opening verse and the way Mustaine delivers his vocals, “… Like a severed arm washed up on the shore / I just don’t think I can give anymore” as it goes straight into the chorus. Although it’s not the heaviest or thrashiest song on the album, the track features great lyrics and musicianship and is a great way to close out the record.

“Th1rt3en” is an album that a lot of people have dumped on since its release. For me, I think this is a great album. But I will admit when I first heard it I was disappointed in it. I absolutely loved “United Abominations” to death (deth, I should say) and I think “Endgame” was Megadeth’s best release in 15 years so I guess I had high expectations for this album. And unfortunately, it didn’t meet my expectations and at the time was Megadeth’s worst album since reforming. From “The System Has Failed” and on, Megadeth kept on upping the ante and making better albums but this album just fell short. And I personally think the reason for this is Johnny K, the album’s producer. Johnny K is known for producing albums for Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, and Finger Eleven, amongst others and though this album’s production is crisp, he shouldn’t have been producing a Megadeth record. And the result, some pretty generic material. Megadeth should have kept Andy Sneap, who produced/engineered Megadeth’s previous albums “United Abominations” and “Endgame”.

Dave Mustaine has said about the album that “This record is the culmination of my work over the 13 records I recorded,” which is essentially true because “Th1rt3en” is an extremely dark and an aggressively heavy metal album that walks a line between vintage thrashers, mid-paced metal, and radio/pop metal. Though Mustaine’s voice might not be as strong as it once was, he still possesses a great voice for the music Megadeth puts out. This album features scorching guitar work and Mustaine’s signature ferocious snarling vocals. It might not be as strong as the previous albums Megadeth has put out but “Th1rt3en” is a satisfyingly crushing metal album that features a lot of memorable material. Very good album.

RYM Rating: 4.5/5   Retrospective Rating: 9.25/10 (A +)

Recommendation: Definitely not the first Megadeth album I would recommend to check out but there’s some great dark, heavy material on this with crisp organic production. Not the best but there’s a lot to like here. Check out Megadeth’s three previous albums prior to this release.

3 Favourite Songs: We The People, Deadly Nightshade, Public Enemy No. 1

Megadeth – Hidden Treasures (1995) Review

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Guitar, Vocals: Dave Mustaine
Guitar: Marty Friedman
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Nick Menza

“Hidden Treasures” is an EP by American thrash metal band, Megadeth. While initially released in Europe as a bonus disk for a special edition of “Youthanasia,” “Hidden Treasures” was released as a stand alone EP by Capitol Records on July 18, 1995. Produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman with additional production by Desmond Child, “Hidden Treasures” received mediocre reviews from critics upon its release. It managed to crack the top 100 on the Billboard 200 charts, debuting at #90 and selling 13,000 copies in its first week.

“Hidden Treasures” is a compilation that features songs that first appeared on movie soundtracks or tribute albums. Three songs on the album received Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance with “Angry Again,” “99 Ways to Die,” and “Paranoid” being nominated in 1994, 1995, and 1996 respectively. Despite garnering mediocre reviews, a lot of the material on “Hidden Treasures” has been credited with helping Megadeth expand their MTV audience in the early to mid 90’s.

The album features the infamous “Rust In Peace” lineup with Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, and Nick Menza.

The first song on the album is a cover of the Alice Cooper classic “No More Mr. Nice Guy” which was recorded for the soundtrack of the Wes Craven film “Shocker” released in 1989. It was recorded after the SFSGSW lineup of Jeff Young and Chuck Behler were ejected from the band and before the release of “Rust In Peace” in 1990. It is the only song Megadeth has recorded as a three-piece and is Nick Menza’s Megadeth debut; Marty Friedman had yet to join the band. Certainly at the time of the song’s release, it was Megadeth’s most poppiest song. But overall, it’s a fine cover and it’s well done. Good solos and Mustaine kills it on the catchy as hell choruses.

Released in 1993, “Breakpoint” was featured on the “Super Mario Bros.” movie soundtrack. Far from my favourite off of the album, but there’s a lot to like about this track. It’s sledge hammer heavy, even thrashy and you get Mustaine’s snooty snarl on the vocals. It might not jump out as an overly brilliant or super impressive track but it’s ultra-aggressive and the riffing has a bone crushing impact. The last forty-five seconds of the song during the “… straight jacket the son of a bitch” is probably my favourite part of the song. The song chugs its way to a conclusion with Mustaine belting out the chorus. It’s a decent enough song, not mind-blowing but still good nonetheless.

Then comes one of my all time favourite Megadeth tunes”Go to Hell,” featured on the “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” movie soundtrack in 1991. If you’re a Megadeth fan, what’s not to love about this furious, ultra-aggressive face stomping assault? Dave Mustaine’s vocals and lyrics are just on point. His voice oozes vitriol and ferociousness and just has that signature Dave Mustaine bite to them. The vocals just make the lyrics even more bad ass. The “My only friend’s the goal, with 666 between his horns!” line is my favourite lyric in the song. The riffing is straight forward and violently heavy. The great Marty Friedman laces the track with immaculate guitar solo. An overall satisfyingly crushing metal track.

It is followed by the fan favourite “Angry Again,” which was featured on the “Last Action Hero” movie soundtrack in 1993. This is another one of my favourites from Megadeth. This track just oozes vintage 90’s Megadeth. It was recorded during the “Countdown to Extinction” tour and it was written during a time when Mustaine was pissed off with his band, management, and promoters as well was having problems with drugs again. And this track just captures that anger. The production is tight, the riffing is heavy and straight forward, and Mustaine’s vocals are venomous. Marty Friedman also happens to unleash a mighty guitar solo too. Megaceth deliver a powerful heavy metal barn burner that is equal parts catchy and hang-banging friendly.

“99 Ways to Die” was featured on the “Beavis and Butt-head Experience” soundtrack, released in 1993. Just another killer track that is aggressively bone bruising and is sure to snap some neck. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a thrash track but it definitely has some thrash elements. The extremely heavy track as a good mid-pace tempo. What really stands out to me on this track is Mustaine’s vocals. Definitely a bit different than his typical vocals but you can’t deny its impact. His vocals make the song stand out and makes it better. The chorus absolutely destroys, not that the verses don’t, but damn is the chorus skull stomping heavy. Excellent lyrics as well and an all around a stand out track.

Then comes a cover of Black Sabbath’s metal classic “Paranoid,” which was released on the Black Sabbath tribute album “Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath” in 1994. My brother owns the tribute album and I remember hearing this cover as a kid and absolutely despising it. I remember just being disgusted by Mustaine’s vocals. But that was way before I became a Megadeth diehard. And now, well it’s a decent cover. Obviously it’s not as good as the original but it still’s a pretty damn good cover. The tempo is bumped up considerably and Mustaine unleashes a blistering solo of his own that is nothing like Tony Iommi’s on the original. You can’t redo Sabbath and make it better than the original but Megadeth do a good job of it. The track classically ends with Mustaine yelling at drummer Nick Menza after he continues jamming, belting out “Nick! Nick! NICK!” with Menza responding “Fuck.. me.. running!”

“Diadems” was originally featured on the movie soundtrack for “Demon Knight,” released in 1995. Recorded during the “Youthanasia” sessions,  this is a very underrated song. I don’t know if it’s because it’s not featured on an actual studio or what but it’s hardly talked about. The track is shrouded in darkness and has a imminent doom vibe to it. Very dark. The opening guitar riff is so killer, immensely heavy as it is dark. Around the 1:55 mark, the heaviness amps up and provides one of the track’s best moments of the song with the “One man rules the earth and rides the seven-headed beast/ten diadems to crown them all, world religion at its feet…” line. Hell-heavy and catchy in parts, “Diadems” is sure to satisfy.

The final track on the album is “Problems,” a cover of the Sex Pistols’ track and it was originally included on “A Tout Le Monde” single released in February 1995. For me, this is my least favourite off of the album and also one of my least favourite tracks that Megadeth has ever done. I’m not a big fan whatsoever of the Sex Pistols and that might be one of the main reasons I’m not a big fan of this, although I do dig Megadeth’s cover of Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK”. Obviously, it has that punk rock vibe and the typical angst that goes along with the territory. Definitely do not care much for the chorus. Overall, it’s an okay cover, it has its moments but it’s far from my favourite.

“Hidden Treasures” is surprisingly not an album full of songs too poor to be on actual studio albums. In actuality, this album or EP really is a genius move by Megadeth. Instead of just giving away their songs to different movie soundtracks and having to get their fans to go out and buy those soundtracks, they decide to put all of those songs together on one release. And fans should be pleased by that because there a lot of genius material on this release that should be heard not left behind or forgotten.

“Hidden Treasures” is filled with material that bleeds vintage early 90’s Megadeth, the band’s commercial peak. Five of the album’s eight songs are originals, the other three being covers. Though not exactly thrash, the tracks are hard hitting, aggressively heavy and it also features classic Dave Mustaine vocals. Being recorded during periods where Mustaine was on and off drugs sporadically, a lot of the tracks capture that energy and displays it in a crushingly heavy way. These tracks aren’t throw-aways, just give “Angry Again,” “Go to Hell,” and “99 Ways to Die” a listen. An excellent collection of Megadeth.

RYM Rating: 5/5   Retrospective Rating: 9.5/10 (A +)

Recommendation: Just because it wasn’t released on an actual studio album doesn’t mean the material isn’t good. Some of Megadeth’s very best material is featured on this album.

3 Favourite Songs: Go to Hell, Angry Again, 99 Ways To Die.