A Review of Megadeth's TH1RT3EN
Album by: Megadeth
Released: November 1, 2011
Recorded: May - June 2011
Genre: Heavy metal, thrash metal
Producer: Dave Mustaine, Johnny K
This is the last ever Megadeth album that will come out of Roadrunner Records. The albums while on this label have been hit and miss. But Mustaine has been having a hard time with Roadrunner lately and he obviously wants to jump ship and take his business elsewhere, despite the lure of new deals.
But at the same time, Mustaine has even allowed David Ellefson, a former band mate and co-founder of the band back in to Megadeth. So while it may appear he’s still having difficulties with some individuals, he’s mending fences with those in the past. Time for some new grudges, perhaps.
TH1RT3EN is a mixed bag. I wouldn’t say it’s their best by any means, probably not even as good as their last effort, Endgame. It’s an album with some very good songs, that are complemented with some old classics that have been re-recorded to appear specially on TH1RT3EN. Some might like this, but it does seem a bit cheap – intentionally padding out a somewhat lacklustre album. This and the eponymous track even has borrowed elements from older songs which will be instantly recognisable to fans. The first half of the album has the best songs, while the last half slacks off a bit. It feels a tad rushed, with recycled stuff from the past which I didn’t think Megadeth would ever stoop to doing.
Megadeth has spent the last decade trying to return to their roots with hit and miss albums. TH1RT3EN literally has bits from the 80’s and 90’s. The only trouble is that the two strongest influences from these periods seem to be So Far, So Good… So What? and Youthansia respectively. While not terrible, they aren’t the most critically acclaimed albums out of their discography, and not the best periods of Megadeth’s career either (late 80’s and mid 90’s). TH1RT3EN has the same sort of immature feel to it as these two, particularly the former, especially evident with songs like “Whose Life (Is It Anyway?)”. But then we know that chances are slim that they could ever really pull off another Peace Sells or Rust in Peace anyway. And I'm not hating on Megadeth by saying that. Let's just face facts here.
Let’s hope that in another two or three years (at least 'Deth is consistent), with a new record label and less stuff going on, their next album will be better. They might even release it independently if Mustaine's comments are to be believed.
Public Enemy No.1
Whose Life (Is it anyway?)
We The People
Guns, Drugs & Money
New World Order
Millennium Of The Blind
Now I’ll go through a track by track review:
This is a single that was recorded to appear on Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock, and its position as the first song on the album is justifiable. It’s one of the best on the album, and was even nominated for a Grammy award for best metal performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards. A great opener with some awesome guitar solos and deafening drum work that might actually make you reach for the volume in order to turn it down a few decibels so you keep your hearing.
Did you know?
All the songs durations totalled up equal 3456 seconds.
“Public Enemy No.1”
This is an ode to Al Capone, the late notorious gangster. The song isn’t bad by any means, but a bit of cheese does manage to seep in. It’s a bit repetitive, this song, to be honest. Hearing the song title over and over again. Somehow I want something a little more subtle. Despite this, the song was well received enough to garner a nomination for best hard rock/metal performance at the 54th Grammy Awards.
“Whose Life (Is it anyway?)”
This song is reminiscent of the older days of Megadeth, such as Peace Sells or So Far, So Good… So What. It has a bit of the same immature feel to it, but you might crank it up just to relive those old days of being a teenager and rebelling against your parents, teachers... practically anyone and everyone. Some good lyrics from Dave here, actually.
“We The People”
What would a Megadeth album be like without a politically motivated track such as this – something that has been more and more common in recent albums like The System Has Failed, United Abominations and Endgame? I have absolutely no problem with this sort of track, and I find it to be rather good, and poignant, too. It has that Mustaine venom and anger that I expect in a Deth song. And it probably has the best outro of almost any Megadeth song I've heard, which oddly reminds me a bit of one of the riffs from Die Dead Enough (The System Has Failed).
“Guns, Drugs & Money”
This track shouldn’t have appeared on this album, or any album. It’s lazy. It could have spent some more time being worked on, with better lyrics. I’m sure I’ve heard better songs with this theme from this band. If you thought Public Enemy No. 1 was repetitive, then this outdoes that by leaps and bounds.
Another single that was recorded for yet another video game, namely Never Dead. While the game itself might have been average at best, with some labelling it as awful, this song is fantastic. It’s the one memorable thing about the game. It does remind me a bit of some select songs from Endgame, such as “This Day We Fight” or “How The Story Ends”. It has the same sort of climactic and yet kind of cheesy feel that would fit something like Highlander (something Dave watches, coincidentally) perfectly. Don’t get me wrong though – I adore it, with a great chorus, cool lyrics, and ass-kicking guitar work. Can I say it has the same sort of intensity as Metallica’s song “All Nightmare Long” while being shorter and more to the point? No? Would that be wrong? Tough. I went there.
“New World Order”
This is a song that has been around for the better part of the last two decades. Conceived in the early 90’s, Mustaine didn't ever really feel it was “complete enough” to put on a studio album – until now. It first appeared on the album Hidden Treasures in 1995 (the Japanese version), followed by Duke Nukem: Music to Score By, which was released a few years later, in 1999, back when Duke Nukem Forever was yet to come out... when it was done. The original demo of the song also made it on to the remastered version of Youthanasia in 2004. New World Order was also one of the first Megadeth songs I ever listened to. So it has a special sort of meaning to me. This was re-recorded to appear on TH1RT3EN, and it’s lacking somehow. The pace is slower, and Mustaine can’t hit those high notes anymore, as we all know, so it’s let down. Ironic – that the demo and earlier versions that he felt weren't good enough were actually better in some ways than this. Rather go and listen to one of the older versions of the song if you can get them.
Another car-themed song that might remind you of “1320” from Endgame, but especially “502”, going all the way back to 1988’s So Far, So Good… So What? Not a bad effort, with some catchy riffs and chorus. Car songs do make an appearance in Megadeth’s discography rarely, and this isn’t the worst. That award goes to “Motopsycho” from 2001’s The World Needs A Hero.
This is another re-recorded song. It first appeared as a bonus track for United Abominations years back, for fans who pre-ordered the album. Surprisingly, this version isn’t bad. The guitar work, particularly in the intro, is spine-tingling. And Mustaine didn’t do a bad job of getting the lyrics right, either – minus a slip up or two. It sounds about the same as the version that was on UA, if not better. Good stuff.
This is something more akin to the classic “Wake Up Dead”, at least in theme, but beyond that, there’s no comparison. It’s another sort of average track in my opinion. Not one of my favourites.
“Millennium Of The Blind”
The third and final re-recorded song on the album. You may remember this as a demo that also appeared on the remastered version of Youthanasia. The song structure has been changed here. What appears here as the build up riff to the chorus was originally the intro to the song. The pieces seem to fit perfectly here. What started its life as a rather random collection of riffs ends up being rather enjoyable. The acoustic guitar work is particularly beautiful. I would say probably the most impressive “oldie” out of all that appeared, simply because a lot more work was done on this one to make it complete.
This must be one of the more unusual tracks on the album, and I would compare it to something like “Lucretia” from Rust In Peace. Down right frightening, unsettling lyrics, topped off with not awful riffs. It’s certainly not a bad song though. It did put an evil smile on my face towards the end, and that counts for something. And Ellefson says that the main riff for this song has been around for years too. More old stuff out of the Megadeth closet. But it's a completely unheard track so it's no problem, really.
This isn’t a re-recording, but fans of Megadeth will instantly see that it contains recycled bits from the classic “In My Darkest Hour” among other songs, right from the get go. It’s a song in the same vein as “Victory” from Youthanasia, and has some pretty obvious references to Megadeth, Mustaine and his career. It’s let down though by the aforementioned self-plagiarism, which is kind of hard to let go of, and has that same sort of exaggerated dramatic approach which might make some turn their noses up. Who knows? Maybe it was all intentional. It seems to be that way, seeing as in an interview with Ellefson, he openly admits it.
Overall album rating: $$$
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© 2012 ANDR01D
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